I teach young beginners from the age of 6 or 7. The emphasis is on having fun, but at the same time developing good hand positions and a balanced sitting posture. These will create firm foundation stones for the future.
Young pupils learn many simple songs and rhymes, to sing as well as play on the guitar. At first they learn by imitation. Over time, what was learned by ear will be written down in musical notes, in large-sized print, with helpful coloured dots and illustrations. I prepare the sheets myself, often adding names of siblings or pets to make them more personal.
Composing and Improvising
At each stage, I encourage pupils to make up their own pieces based on what has just been learned. These pieces can be improvised on the spur of the moment, or composed and written down, to return to again and again.
Clapping and Drumming
I have a selection of percussion instruments which we use to practise rhythms, and use flash-cards and other visual aids to keep the lessons varied and stimulating.
My teaching of young beginners is inspired and influenced by the Kodaly Method. Pupils progress from the simple to the more complex in a series of logical steps. The steps are very small, and we wait until each step is mastered before moving onto the next, so that success at every stage can be experienced. Success breeds confidence, and the desire to learn more!
Practising with Mum or Dad
With this very young age-group, at least one parent needs to sit with the child during their practice, which ideally needs to be at least 3-4 times per week. No musical expertise is needed by the parent, just a willingness to create the time and space for guitar practice, then stay in the room and listen, preferably making appreciative noises! It is a rare child who has the discipline and motivation to practise of their own accord, so the parent needs to gently steer things until a routine has been created and the child feels ready to practise by themselves.
Young children have a 30-minute lesson, once a week during term-time.
As well as teaching from my home studio in Devoran, I also visit Truro High School for Girls, and Polwhele House Prep School in Truro.
"Let us take our children seriously! Everything else follows from this... only the best is good enough for a child"