First Classical Guitar Lesson - 8 year old

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First Classical Guitar Lesson - 8 year old

Post by OneManBand » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:33 pm

Hello everyone,

Recently my 8 year old niece has expressed an interest in learning guitar. I've agreed to give her weekly lessons but having never taught anyone before I've been mulling over how to approach it. Here is what I've come up with for her first lesson I would be interested to know if I'm being realistic in my expectations.


I've bought her a 3/4 guitar, music stand, "The Guitarist's Way Book 1" and a set of colourful sand timers that range from 2mins to 10mins.

Lesson Plan

first off I've decided that I'm not going to have her sit in the correct posture yet. I think it's only going to complicate things at the moment. I'll just have her sit on a chair, guitar on one leg. I'm going to have her play the first two exercises in the book Apoyando. - They both use open strings, and simple crochet and minim rhythms - I'm choosing rest stroke firstly so that she plays with some volume/tone and secondly to ensure that she alternates her fingers. I'm going to give her the 2 minute sand timer and ask that her mom/dad sits with her and does 2 minutes of concentrated practice each day.
One thing I have noticed about her - and I'm sure all budding guitarists - is her impatience. She wants to be able to play something she knows. I'm sympathetic to her eagerness, so I'm going to teacher her the tune to Frozen's "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman". The opening phrase is made up of all open strings apart from one A note played in second position on the G string (Tune goes G,G,G,D,G.B,A,B) I think this is ideal because that A note is the first fretted note I would want to teacher her since it's fretted with the middle finger. But my main reason for choosing "Do You Wanna Build A Snowman" is that it begins with a percussive rhythm she can tap out on the body of the guitar. I'm hoping that she'll gain a little confidence/motivation from being able to play the percussive part. With this I'm going to give her the 3 minute sand timer and have her practice it once a day.

That's it - I'm planning on taking no more than 20 minutes with this first lesson. The first part is her technique study - this is what I want out of the lesson. The second part is fun - which is what she wants out of the lesson.

Are these realistic expectations?


Re: First Classical Guitar Lesson - 8 year old

Post by marvluse » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:39 pm

Sounds like a sound plan to me. If she demonstrates a continued interest in the instrument, then soon enough you can take it to a formal level. In the meantime, give her the opportunity to have a bit of fun, which might fire her imagination. Age 8 is a good time to start if one wants to be truly good. Time will tell, however, and I think your ideas are good ones for someone so young just starting out.

If things work out, I would suggest a few simple arrangements of things she might know and like. There is a bit of gratification to be able to play something she might have heard on the radio, for example.

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Re: First Classical Guitar Lesson - 8 year old

Post by castro743 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:47 pm

Gohar Vardanyan done a Q&A a while ago where she mentioned that at first, practice time should be kept to a minimum so bad habits don't become ingrained. The trick is making the most of the first 30 mins/day practice sessions. Not talking about the classes. Her practice. Cause if she's impatient, she'll prolly feel bored of playing scales, or sight reading, the two really important exercises at the early stages imo.

At the same time, she might lose interest if she doesn't get to play anything in the first couple of years. My teacher introduced me to simple pieces like Beethoven's Ode to Joy then we jumped straight to Segovia 20 studies of Sor. But even being a motivated adult, it takes me 30 days to rudimentarily play a piece (2 more months before it becomes audition worthy).

Bottomline, the sooner she realize it'll take time to develop the motor skills needed to play, the better.

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Re: First Classical Guitar Lesson - 8 year old

Post by celestemcc » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:31 pm

20 minute lesson sounds perfect! I'd suggest she sit in proper position: that's one of the easy things to do. It doesn't take much effort and it will help her achieve correct technique over time. Better to help discourage overall bad habits like wrapping the thumb around the neck. She may not be able to avoid that at first, and there's nothing lost in sitting correctly. Re practice time, some say one minute per year of age, a couple times a day or more.
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Re: First Classical Guitar Lesson - 8 year old

Post by Robin » Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:17 pm

Hi OneHandBand,

I think your lesson plan sounds well thought out, balanced between work and fun. I love the song, "Do You Want To Build A Snowman"!! She will love it!!

I learned a fun way to introduce a good sitting position with the guitar at my recent Suzuki teacher training. It's called "Heart to Heart, Head to Head". The student holds the guitar on their left leg (with support in place). The upper bout of the guitar should touch the mid/left side of their chest or heart and the headstock of the guitar should be in line with their head. This works pretty well. Once you set them up, then you can start to give the student responsiblity for monitoring guitar position as it is easy for them to check using the saying. I'm currently teaching a number of transfer students who were holding the guitar on the right leg. They were very receptive to this because it feels like a game and it is tangible. They can easily check if their guitar is in the correct position. Once the guitar is in correct position, their posture may not be perfect but it improves.

Keep us posted on the lessons with your neice!

So much music, so little time.

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