Children Learning Music – Advice For Parents

*Parents are the key to success – Parents are without a doubt the greatest teachers of all. As any teacher well knows without parents even our best efforts have very little impact. Because we understand this so well we have created this page to help you as a parent understand what your children should be doing to ultimately achieve success on the guitar.

*Practice as a habit – By giving your children (especially young children) the choice of practicing or not, they will usually opt for not. Genuine practice in most cases is a tedious and boring chore but a necessity. Think of learning music like learning to read. The early stages require concentration and are not particularly enjoyable. If young children were given a choice they probably would rather watch TV and never learn to read. But later in life they would regret it. Fact is most parents work hard with their children teaching them to read and write. Music is no different. If you are serious about your child learning music we highly recommend you get involved. The first year is when they need you the most. Children do not have the wisdom of adults and leaving the choice of what, when and how to practice to them will mostly result in them giving up. Overtime children will make practice a habit. In almost every case where a child excels at guitar there is a very supportive parent behind the scenes.

*So what do they need? – Junior students will mostly be working from two sources;

Progressive Guitar Method Book 1

The G4GUITARMETHOD Student Folder

These items are included in the starter kit. Additional handouts will be given as require.

*As a parent what do I need to know about the G4GUITARMETHOD? – In the front of their folder is a Checklist. (open their folder and it should be the first page you see). This checklist will have a list of all the requirements for the current level. As a student progresses boxes will be ticked to show they have successfully executed a particular skill or song. Basically the focus of their practice needs to be where a box is un tick. The teacher at times will write comments in the section below. Parents should check this each week. Once all the boxes are tick they will receive a certificate and move up to the next level.

*So how can I help with their practice? – Take a little time each week to see what they are learning. Ask your child exactly what they are working on. The best time to ask is straight after their lesson. If you ask them on a regular basis they will often pay more attention in class knowing the questions are coming. Try to understand it yourself. Even better try learning the guitar yourself. We also have adult classes so feel free to sign up.

* Performance – Set specific dates for your child to perform their latest piece for family or friends. Once a term (4 times a year) would be good. That way that have something to work towards. Make sure you reward them in some way.

*Incentives – Its important to understand the difference between an incentive and blackmail. Blackmail is forcing someone to do something that only serves you. An incentive is a positive way to encourages the individual in question to reach their potential. Using incentives with children helps them to eventually discover that practice has its own rewards. Instead of just taking your children to see a movie or buying them a PlayStation game use them as incentives.

*Starting at a young age 5 -7 years- The focus for young children is more on fun so as to build up positive associations with the guitar. Learning guitar requires the development of fine motor skills, aural awareness (listening) and understanding. The fine motor skills for guitar are slower to develop in a young child but the work they do at this age pays off for them later. These skills are the same as learning to speak, read and write a language. You should expect their development to be roughly the same. If your child practices writing for 10 minutes a day you will notice gradual improvements overtime. Because children practice speaking language much more than reading or writing they develop speech faster. It is simply a matter of practice. We would not expect a 5 year child to write a novel but we do expect them to communicate to a reasonable level. The early years are essentially foundation building and building the habit of practice. Do not expect too much just encourage and be aware of the time they spend on their practice.

*Listening – The music your children listen to plays a big role in their learning. If you want your child to appreciate and ultimately be passionate guitarists then you need to expose them to guitar music. Instead of 2 hours of TV or computer a day give them 30 minutes of music appreciation. Find music that features obvious guitar like Eric Clapton, Santana, The Beatles, Green Day etc… Why not try classical, flamenco or jazz guitar. Most libraries have a good range of CDs. Especially The Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Also try renting a DVD of a concert instead of a movie. Checkout ‘The School of Rock’ DVD. Its light hearted comical look at school age primary school children learning music.

*Guitar fitness – Learning guitar is often confused with playing guitar. Many people decide to take up guitar because they think it will be fun. They are focused on playing guitar. Learning guitar is not particularly fun. Playing guitar is fun. Playing guitar is one of the best feelings anyone could experience. But learning the guitar is HARD WORK. Its like fitness. Getting fit is hard work. Being fit is a great feeling. But as you get fitter it gets easier. Young children need lots of support and parent involvement. Try and sit with them when they practice and watch them. Pay close attention to what they are doing. For children under 10 years its a must.



By David John Hart