Monday, June 24, 2019

Teaching Young Children, Pt. VIII – Rhythms

In the previous month’s post I discussed having young students play using the open strings G and D. Additionally, students were then introduced to reading these strings on the music staff with notation. This month we’ll move further into reading music by introducing quarter and eighth note rhythms.

One of the best ways to introduce students to reading music is through identifying first have them be able to identify/count quarter and eighth note rhythms. The teacher can have students play various rhythmic combinations using quarter and eighth note rhythms on a single string. However, there is no need to yet introduce reading notes on the staff; students should play single string rhythms. Moreover, the teacher should create their own patterns for students to practice with.

When introducing rhythms the teacher should help young students become acquainted with the concept of counting (ex. one and two and); it is important to note that at this point students be only counting in 2/4 time. Moreover, students should be specifically reading eighth notes in groups of four (the reason why will be apparent in future posts).

Monday, May 27, 2019

Teaching Young Children, Pt. VII - Open Strings

The last several posts have been building to where young students will begin playing music. Keep in mind that for this series of posts “young children” are defined as ages 5 through 8; that being the case the job of the teacher is to present material which children can be successful with, master in short order and feel a sense of accomplishment playing.

In last month’s post students where working on a simple open string exercise to develop the coordination in their thumb required when plucking and moving from string to string. Students did not need to know the letter names of strings (E,A,D,G,B,E) – they only need to know strings by numbers (1,2,3, etc…). This month students will work with only two open strings “G” and “D”. In order to work with these two strings students will be introduced to the concept of sight reading. If the teacher is unable to read music, it will be greatly beneficial for the instructor to learn to read music even on a basic level to in order to accompany their student in future lessons.

The music staff should be introduced with its five lines and four spaces. It should be made clear that the lines are not the strings of the guitar; as the guitar has six strings and the music staff has only five lines – they are not the same. 

Next the teacher will introduce the open strings "G"and "D" - discuss how the music note “G” will be found on the second line of the music staff and that the note “D” is written below the staff. The teacher may develop their own written exercises for the student to practice reading/playing whether the note “G” or “D”. To ease the transition into reading music the teacher should allow the student to write the letter name above/below the music note.

Next month we’ll dig a little deeper into reading music with our young students.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Teaching Young Children, Pt. VI - The Thumb

In last month’s post I was discussing having young students use their thumb rather than a guitar pick. The reason for this is that young beginners are still developing their fine motor skills (the small muscles in their hands, fingers and wrists) and the thumb is easier for them to manipulate.

This month teachers can use these simple open string exercises with their young students to help facilitate the use of their thumb. Although the exercises are simple the development of the right hand position is the key. Keep in mind that:

• Fingers should remain on the first string

• The right hand wrist should remain straight

• Movement of the thumb should be from the large joint

• The hand should not move only the thumb

Teachers will only need to show the exercise to students and explain to parents what the child is doing so that they may help them at home. The exercises are written in tablature and there is no need at this stage to explain “tab” to them at this time.