Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

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Stephen Faulk
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Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by Stephen Faulk » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:15 am

I'm putting together a proposal to use our town community center as a place to give kids classes. I'm going to volunteer to teach on Saturday two hours for a ten week session. That's the format for city sponsored classes. Kids age like 7 or 8 to jr high.

I'm thinking to teach one class of flamenco beginning music. And one hour on something classical, a scale and a very small piece.

I'm going to limit it to 8 to 10 kids in each class, or less. And implore the parental units to try to get the kids to practice 10 minutes every day.

I'm interested in hearing from people who teach guitar to kids and what you've learned. BTW I already teach English in Jr high and I'm in Japan.

Thanks
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dmcmurray
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by dmcmurray » Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:54 am

How young would the kids you are teaching be? I have been successful teaching younger kids 8-12 classical stuff but once they transition to middle school many are not interested in reading exercises or playing scales. They want to play songs they know and want to rock out. There are exceptions but the age of the student is a factor I think.
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Julian Ward
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by Julian Ward » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:19 pm

I've taught group lessons for children for many, many years and the classical approach is great, as they get older you can easily keep them on this track so long as you are a good teacher and can inspire them and believe in what you are teaching. There has been a massive pull away from 'rocking out' over here in the UK for many years. I wouldn't be teaching strict flamenco to children but maybe incorporate some of the techniques. They absolutely love things like Malaguena, even though it is not really flamenco.
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CathyCate
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by CathyCate » Tue Dec 04, 2018 1:15 pm

It's been years since I had patience enough to engage students so young. Kudos!

With a "nod to Suzuki" I suggest going easy on the reading for now and perhaps relying more on ear training and memorization. If class time is short, you will spend less time searching for sheet music or figuring out what page or measure number the group has to find to be in sync.

Success was best when I was able to connect each lesson with things they already knew. Nursery rhymes and Folk songs are a possibility. Some Popular songs are also fair game (but check out lyrics for suitability). They have been singing some of these for years.

If students vary in age and ability, you might try working out some simple arrangements with melody, rhythm or accompaniment lines. Record the various parts, so they have a ready practice assist at home.

There is insufficient time to create artists. If they enjoy the exposure and the experience in this group setting, you will have encouraged them to continue their musical exploration in yet another setting.

Put it altogether and there's music (of sorts) which may be crucial if there is a program or recital after 10 weeks. :wink:

All the best!
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Todd Tipton
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by Todd Tipton » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:46 pm

dmcmurray wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:54 am
How young would the kids you are teaching be? I have been successful teaching younger kids 8-12 classical stuff but once they transition to middle school many are not interested in reading exercises or playing scales. They want to play songs they know and want to rock out. There are exceptions but the age of the student is a factor I think.
And I just want to be Bruce Lee immediately, but hopefully my teacher is interested in my development more than filling up a studio...lol :lol:
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Christopher Langley
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by Christopher Langley » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:18 pm

I have recently started taking on some child students.

My experience thus far has been that children typically have no interest in classical music or reading or learning theory.

They want electric guitars with whammy bars.

They do best learning popular music by ear. (Think smoke on the water). They also can pick up the minor pent/blues scale pretty quickly, but good luck teaching a kid or anyone really to listen and learn to phrase.

It's all about finding, establishing and maintaining their own personal interest in the instrument. It's about giving them things they -want- to play. They are too young to do that for themselves. Can't imagine trying to teach several young ones.

I'm often lucky to keep the attention of just one kid. Kids zone out instantly these days if you don't maintain interest. I can't stress it enough, if you stop to explain something, you will lose them. They simply don't have the attention span/self-control/genuine interest.

Give em something they want to play and they will succeed. Works every time. Gotta keep them engaged and know when they are paying attention and when you've lost them.
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:58 pm

I will preface my response with a disclaimer. My suggestions are coming from a North American perspective.

First, 2 hours is a very long time for kids in that age range. I would suggest a variety of short learning activities (10-15 mins long max.) rather than focusing on one thing for an extended period. This will help keep their focus and attention.

Second, I would second CathyCate: try to get them playing things they are familiar with. For early learners, the ear and the mind should guide the hands when learning an instrument--not the other way around.

Third, remember that you are developing their musicianship along with their ability to play an instrument. Have them practice rhythms and melodies either away from the instrument or on the instrument in a way that is simple for them. For instance, have them play the rhythm of a familiar song like Twinkle, Twinkle on an open string. You could also have them echo rhythm patterns by tapping their fingers on the body of the guitar. Have them sing the melodies they are learning.

Keep it fun. It would be helpful to play some music games with them. For instance, you could play "I Have/Who Has". Make up some cards with simple rhythm patterns (once they've learned them). Each rhythm must on 2 cards. Distribute them among your students. The first student plays or taps the rhythm on his/her card. The student with the matching card must echo the pattern. You can play a game like this with many different concepts. You could even use it right away to help students learn the note names of their strings or frets (put string/fret names on the cards, they can say then play).

Hope this helps a bit.
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malc laney
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by malc laney » Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:00 pm

I agree with all the above , i felt for the first five years , that sight reading etc.. was Proper , then my supervisor took over [i was playing folk , rock etc..with the kids] did 100% classical and decimated my roll!! the next 40 years were far more rewarding.

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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by 2lost2find » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:22 pm

I'm going to chime in with what I know to be an unpopular opinion on this forum. If they're too young for practice to be 100% voluntary, they're simply too young. DO NOT urge the parents to force them to practice. I always tell parents that if they're not picking it up because they WANT to, get them a Tonka truck or a Barbie doll and try again in a couple more years.

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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by celestemcc » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:16 pm

Have to agree with 2lost2find... having taught young kids in both individual and class settings.

If you're going to do it, easy on the music reading. Until age 9 or so, some kids (very logically) see the staff as a kind of tablature. Once they can understand abstract concepts it's easier for them (and you). Some younger ones catch right on, but the ones that don't get left behind in a class situation. By ear is ideal this early on. Mostly they're interested in making sounds, so get 'em playing right off. They are, quite literally, at play in these years.

Ditto re age range in classes.... keep 8 to 11-12 in one group, the older ones in a separate group.

It's hard to get them to practice at any age, frankly: the most interested and committed will. With the littler ones a rule of thumb one excellent teacher I know says is, age times three: a 6 year old can handle about 18 - 20 minutes of practice (or instruction) at a time unless you make it REALLY fun! And do advise parents not to pressure them.
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malc laney
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by malc laney » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:15 pm

If Mozarts dad had taught him guitar , we would have all been off the hook , because it would have taken the little blighter a lot longer , and we could pressurise geniuses to start a lot later!

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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by 2lost2find » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:28 pm

celestemcc wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:16 pm


It's hard to get them to practice at any age, frankly: the most interested and committed will. With the littler ones a rule of thumb one excellent teacher I know says is, age times three: a 6 year old can handle about 18 - 20 minutes of practice (or instruction) at a time unless you make it REALLY fun! And do advise parents not to pressure them.
Here's something I realized a very long time ago: the students who are going to become great players will do it whether I'm there or not. In those cases, a teacher's only real function is to speed up the process.

I'm in the process of seriously scaling back my teaching. I don't really need the money at this juncture, and I've reached a point where the only students I want to teach are ones who are damn serious. The kid who gets out of bed in the morning and starts playing guitar before he/she even gets dressed, the kind that skips school to practice more. Those are the people I want to teach, so I'm scaling things back so those are the only students I am teaching. And once again, if I am being honest, these are the people who at the end of the day don't really need a teacher at all. The teacher just shaves time off of their learning curve.

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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by Stephen Faulk » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:51 pm

Thanks for sharing. I've written an outline to give to the city council, I'm sure the class will be approved, but they might be able to rustle up some money to get guitars for the class. I'm hoping.

I'll show you the outline. I proposed the schedule etc. and made notes on how the hour would be spent. I'm already a teacher in the school district so I'm aware of student concentration limits. This work isn't about making little stars, it's about exposing the kids to world culture. If one of them happens to go further, good for everyone.

More later
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Christopher Langley
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by Christopher Langley » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:56 pm

2lost2find wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:28 pm

Here's something I realized a very long time ago: the students who are going to become great players will do it whether I'm there or not. In those cases, a teacher's only real function is to speed up the process.
Couldn't possibly agree more man. And these types of students.. They care, they listen. They pick up the guitar and never set it down without being bugged. They would and can do it on their own.
2lost2find wrote:
Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:22 pm

I'm going to chime in with what I know to be an unpopular opinion on this forum. If they're too young for practice to be 100% voluntary, they're simply too young. DO NOT urge the parents to force them to practice. I always tell parents that if they're not picking it up because they WANT to, get them a Tonka truck or a Barbie doll and try again in a couple more years.
Agreed! It's an exercise in frustration and futility otherwise. If the kid (or adult even) doesn't want to play and specifically to learn and to improve.. Lessons are pointless for them.

A good teacher can certainly try to help to find and develop interest in said persons. But the majority won't bite and they can't be forced. I do believe popular music is the entry way for young ones. I studied and played popular music for 5 to 6 years before finding my own interest in classical.
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Tony Hyman
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Re: Teaching kids classes- questions to those who have

Post by Tony Hyman » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:17 pm

I teach kids between 8-13. Its a relatively poor neighborhood and so they don't have guitars or instruments to practice at home. The guitar is a bit of a no-no, because of this factor. I try and squeeze the cg guitar in here and there but generally, they want to rock out. So I let them jam along with the keyboards and drums alla "garage band".Hopefully, they will sort of fly along and build interest. Keyboards are generally a hit because of the relative ease in playing when compared to the guitar, but patience is a virtue. As has already been said above I lose them when they go to High School. They do get a bit rudiments when doing the recorder. The frequent comers which are very few come out tops, as real musicians would. They enjoy recording and learning to actually find their way around the recording program. You just have to come up with new tricks to keep them interested an focused.
Last edited by Tony Hyman on Fri Dec 14, 2018 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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