Why take Music Lessons.
The most important thing a parent wants for their child is that he or she will reach their full potential in life. Any type of music lessons are one of the most wonderful gifts a parent can give to the future development of their child. A lifelong gift that helps to achieve that goal and follows many of my students into adulthood. There’s convincing research that indicates a musical education at an early age has a positive effect on our brains. It exercises them and Canadian researchers found that students IQs rose after they’ve taken music lessons. It also helps in language development. Just as there is a linguistic window (before age 7) where a child can learn a second language and speak it without an accent, I believe the earlier lessons are started the better the chance that music will become similar to an actual second language in that child’s mind. I’ve developed a teaching technique that gives results that will amaze you.
Why choose Guitar.
If your child asked to take lessons a passion for the guitar has already been ignited and the answer to this question is easy for you. Guitar is arguably the most popular instrument in providing a creative outlet for musical expression and probably the most practical musical instrument to play. It’s fun, portable, can easily accompany a voice, and once learned it can be played and enjoyed throughout life.
Aside from the lure of becoming a rich and famous rock star, lessons on an instrument that your child enjoys will have other benefits, such as teaching the importance of having a routine and the rewards of perseverance, patience and discipline. More and more research indicates the vast array of other benefits that accompany a musical education. A set practice routine will constructively occupy time, build up physical skills and strengthen your child’s focus. Academically this will help in doing homework, fighting Attention Deficit Disorder and boosting self-esteem & confidence. Many children eventually choose to perform live and this helps them to develop socially and ease performance anxiety. A child that chooses to pursue a musical education on the guitar will have the course of their life altered and enriched, forever.
Parents worry that forcing their child to practice will make them hate music. If lessons are started on an instrument without taking into account the child’s preference, this can happen. Frequently we hear of children who are unhappy with music lessons on classical instruments such as piano or violin. This doesn’t happen a lot with guitar because many times it’s the child that asks to take lessons. Most of my students love playing. The main problem arises if they have an inability to fit practice into their busy routines. Piano is an excellent instrument for understanding music but if you want your child to stick with music, guitar may be a much better choice. I have had many students who started out with piano and now play guitar.
At what age should lessons be started.
Basically anyone can play the guitar and I offer personalized lessons geared to bringing out the innate talent we all possess. I’ve taught students from four years old to senior citizens. The challenge for me comes with a very young or a very old student. Young children have difficulties playing because they don’t have enough finger strength to press the strings down (practicing, repetition and growth will remedy this). Older students frequently have problems moving their fingers and the only way to help this is again, practice. It’s important to note the earlier lessons are started the better the chance the student will become a very good guitarist.
Girls and boys learn differently.
Most boys want to learn classic rock songs and they do a lot of playing accompanied with very little singing. Most girls do nothing but singing & strumming as they try to emulate whoever the most popular female artist at a given moment is. Today that female artist is Taylor Swift. Whatever they like doing I make their lessons as much fun as possible.
Why take lessons in your own home rather than at a music store.
I give lessons in your own home. This is not only convenient for parents but helps your child feel comfortable during the lesson. We don’t have the same distractions as a music store, such as noise and customers walking in and out. Another positive aspect of in-home lessons is that you’re there and can easily listen in on your child’s progress. Many of my student’s parents are present during the lesson.
Why choose a private teacher.
My biggest competitors are music stores. A storefront is hard to compete with because people have the misconception that they’ll find the most qualified teachers there. In reality the owner may not be your child’s teacher. You could find:
- Young, under-paid, inexperienced instructors who conduct rap sessions with their students and might be replaced several times a year by similar instructors.
- Jazzbos* who’s boring, highly theoretical lessons do not motivate children.
- “ Jack of All Trades” type teachers who know only the basics of several different instruments and are out of touch with the popular guitar styles that keep young students interested.
*Jazzbo – a jazz instructor who looks down on and tries to talk students out of playing the kind of music that they enjoy
(Usually Popular or Rock “n” Roll)
I specialize in only one instrument, guitar. I’ve played since 1968 but still can easily relate to younger students. I can teach the styles of music that will keep them having fun and playing guitar into adulthood. You will get a return on your investment.
Why choose a full-time teacher.
Many of the teachers you’ll find in a Google search are young, inexperienced part timers. You may not realize it when you look at their websites but this type of teacher is ill-equipped as a student advances. They may play, write and talk a lot during the lesson as the student just sits there watching. Through the years I’ve had many parents tell me how, without any warning, their previous guitar teacher just disappeared and stopped coming to their house. This is how inexperienced teachers react when they’ve hit the brick wall of not having anything left to teach. With me, your child will be playing during most of their lesson.
Why choose a real teacher over Internet lessons.
Recently I’ve had to compete with YouTube and free online guitar lessons. In tough times it’s hard for a parent not to be lured in by such offers. But the reality is when a question pops up, there’s no one to ask and if your child does something wrong and there’s no one watching to correct them. This way of learning is okay in the beginning but when inevitable obstacles are encountered, without a full-time teacher who specializes in guitar, there’ll be no way around them. Your child may stop progressing or just stop playing altogether.
What are the qualities of a successful student.
Here are the four main attributes you must have to play guitar well;
Mental quickness – The faster a person thinks the quicker they can understand and play music. In turn learning to read music and play an instrument will build and sharpen a student’s mental agility.
Physical Dexterity – Fast fingers are best, but slow movement will be overcome with practice.
Desire – This is instilled in a young child by seeing someone they love playing or singing along with a guitar. Having a toy guitar around will also peak curiosity and desire. Seeing and emulating famous musicians and bands inspire older children.
Practice time – All students must spend time playing their guitar. Sometimes priorities have to be rearranged. I always suggest half an hour, at least four times a week. This will give your child around two hours a week added to their regular half hour lesson. If your child practices more than this they will achieve a worthwhile goal and excel at playing guitar.
How I teach guitar.
I tailor my lessons to the desires and goals of each student as well as their parents. All are treated individually. Beginners are started off with a combination of traditional note reading and recognizable popular songs with the emphasis on 3 things; making playing fun, learning fundamentals and getting results. The popular instruction books I use (Dick Bennett & Mel Bay) reflect the level of note reading I believe a child can handle. In conjunction I’ve written my own unique instruction method to go along with the conventional instruction courses. My workbook is composed of individual sheets that span a range from beginner to expert. When a student completes a sheet it comes out of their binder and a new one takes its place. After graduating from beginner each student has a different set of sheets that reflect the direction they wish to pursue with their instrument. I have a sheet for just about any theoretical avenue they wish to pursue from basic blues rock pentatonic’s to altered scales. From modal improvisation, sweep arpeggios, hybrid and finger style picking to advanced chord progression key of the moment songwriting using altered tunings. A junior high trombone teacher moonlighting on guitar can’t do this.
Many students play another instrument and already know how to read music. For them guitar is, as well as most other second instruments, always much easier as note reading is not a problem. For students who enjoy note reading I use a more difficult instruction method. But some parents specifically request that their children not follow traditional teaching styles. Many want lessons to be as enjoyable as possible for their over stressed and overworked children. For them I teach popular (guitar-based Classic Rock) songs according to the child’s ability level. As a student’s technical proficiency increases harder songs and solos are introduced. Usable music theory and improvisation are taught using jam CDs recorded especially for this purpose. Eventually students are encouraged to pick some of the popular Rock’n’Roll songs they wish to learn. My years as a professional transcriber help me in writing these songs out during the lesson. I’m very good at picking out guitar music by ear.
Each student learns at a different level. In over forty years of experience, I’ve developed a very patient teaching style. I’m tough on students who don’t practice but I never belittle or discourage a slower student or someone who is time challenged. Neither fast nor slower learning speeds pose any problem for me and I regularly take on non-beginners & dissatisfied students from other teachers.
Parents often ask me to give their children longer lessons. Unless a student is learning at a tremendous pace I can easily fit everything in one half hour because I’ve taken the time to compose my own lesson syllabus workbook that I just spoke about. Some 45 minute to one hour teachers waste valuable playing time by spending much of the lesson physically writing out the same basic materials for each student. I don’t have to write anything out and my students are playing during their lessons (unless they wish to learn a song I don’t know, and I write that out for them during the lesson).
As beginners outgrow their acoustic guitars, I’ll suggest getting a nice electric guitar and amp. At this time an appreciation for song writing and performance in a band are encouraged. Bands regularly record at my studio and my rehearsal room is available for rent. For more advanced players I try to open up the different guitar styles that younger students might not be initially interested in such as Blues, Jazz, or Classical.
What are parent’s responsibilities.
Many students play their guitar each day without being reminded. But others don’t. Beginner students are given about 15 minutes of material to practice each week. In order to gain momentum I ask them to repeat everything twice which will add up to half an hour each practice session. And again my suggestion is they practice four times a week (students under 7 can do less). If a student excels and does more than two hours per week it’s better and they’ll be given more work to do, but less practice is unacceptable. Parents must be involved in listening in and making sure their child is playing regularly. Having a set practice time each day works best. For very young students I’ll show the parents how to help them when they practice.
What can you expect from lessons.
It’s impossible to predict how successful a student will be. I try my best to keep each one interested and moving forward, but some students just don’t like to practice or simply don’t have the time. But even 5 minutes a day is better than nothing.
For a child with potential, the earlier lessons are started, the better. I encourage songwriting & performance and if they play well enough by high school, this is the best time to experience performing in a band. If your child practices you’ll be amazed with the results. Most students love their lessons and many of my younger students jump up-and-down when I ring the doorbell.
What type of students do I get.
There are four types of students that I come across.
- Occasionally I’ll get a child who’s forced to take lessons. They usually have no interest and either refuse to, or practice very little.
- Faddists who try to imitate the latest ‘cool’ bands but lose interest when they find out that it takes more than four weeks to learn how to be good at guitar.
- Recreational students who practice moderately, have fun, but don’t try to excel in music.
- Students with a true musical calling who learn at a steady rate, love to play, and are a pleasure to teach.
When you’re child takes lessons they’ll fall somewhere in these four categories. Each student takes a slightly different journey with their guitar.
Lefties or righties.
Before I give the first lesson parents don’t usually think of telling me if their child is left-handed. Even though, I rarely get a true lefty guitar student. If your child is left-handed it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll play guitar left-handed (like Paul McCartney). When first handed a guitar a student will pick it up in the direction that feels comfortable for them. Looking at them, a right-handed guitarist will have the neck pointing to your right and a left-handed guitarist will have the neck pointing to your left. As most starter guitars are made for right-handed people most left-handed students end up being taught how to play right-handed. In the first few months of lessons a child can be taught to play either way and only if they have confusion after the first month should the strings on a right-handed guitar be switched around (or a left-handed guitar be purchased). People can play the guitar either way and it’s interesting that most guitarists play right-handed but, if you stop and think about it, there are hardly any Beatle cover bands with a right-handed Paul McCartney. They all play lefty.
Should you buy or rent an instrument.
Most beginners have access to a guitar before they start lessons. For those who don’t I suggest renting first. This way you’re not stuck with an expensive instrument if your child looses interest. On average 50% of the children that start lessons with me will be students a year or less and the other 50% will continue longer. If you wish I have guitars and amps available for rent at a price of $10.00 each per month.
How are payments arranged.
Each lesson is one half hour long. You’re charged a flat monthly rate and payment is due at the end of the month after the lessons are given. You will not be charged if a lesson is missed, but I do ask that all cancellations be made up. I have convenient openings. Please call me at (914) 741-6321 and we’ll set up a time to meet. I have excellent references, if you like, and look forward to hearing from you… Thanks
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