Thursday, September 30, 2010

At what age should a child start guitar studies?

The guitar can be a very tough instrument for a student to learn, even more so when that student is very young. The posture required to play the instrument, along with the pressing down on metal strings, can be very hard for young kids to do. However, for a student that is committed, these are things that can, and will, be overcome with time and practice.

The age of six is a good general time for a new young student to start guitar studies. Children this age already have good motor skills and are big enough to handle the instrument. Younger students may not be big enough to feel comfortable with the guitar, but exceptions can certainly be made. There are three main guitar sizes, 1/2 size, 3/4 size, and full size. The 1/2 size guitar is adequate for students this age. For students with a smaller body type, the classical guitar is recommended as it is usually smaller than a steel-string acoustic guitar.

Lessons with a qualified teacher are instrumental for young students as they are not savvy enough to figure the instrument out by themselves. Music reading and theory are usually part of their guitar studies to provide a full musical experience to the student.

Friday, August 27, 2010

When to have a longer lesson time

I suggest young students below the age of 11 to have 30 minute guitar lessons. Children this age tend to be a little restless, and giving them too much information can be overwhelming. 30 minute lessons are long enough to give adequate guidance to the student while not making the lessons tedious. But when is it time to move up to a longer lesson time?

First, lets discuss the reasons why a young student may want a longer lesson time. When a motivated student reaches a certain skill level, they may feel stunted with only 30 minutes worth of guidance, and want more work to practice on before the next lesson. A longer lesson time will allow the student to have more guidance, they will be given more information, and they will have more things to practice, which will keep the guitar interesting to them. Also, more complicated works that are too involved to cover in a 30 minute lesson, like ensemble songs, will be able to be introduced.

Age is the first indicator of how long a lesson length a student can handle. Students 12 and older can handle 45 minute and hour lessons. If a young student starts with a 30 minute lesson, he may be ready for a longer lesson length as he gets older.

The experience of a student is another indicator that a student can handle a longer lesson time. If a student has been practicing for several years and has good skills in reading music, understanding music theory, and good guitar playing skills, they are ready for a longer lesson length.

The motivation and maturity of the student is another excellent indicator they are ready for a longer lesson time. I have had young students move up from 30 minute lessons to hour lessons in a few months time all because the student would go the extra mile during their practice time at home. Such students crave a challenge, and moving their lesson time to an hour will give the teacher more time to guide his motivated student.

The student himself will usually ask the parent for a longer lesson time if they feel the current lesson length is too short. The teacher may also inform the parent that the student is ready for a longer lesson length.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Effective practicing for young students

The lesson time at the teacher's music studio is where new techniques and information are taught to the young student, but it is at home where these techniques will be practiced and developed. It is up to the adult to set up a study environment that will encourage proper uninterrupted practice time at home. Below are a few tips to set up a great practice area:

Have the correct materials handy:
Have the materials the student will need ready for him/her. They will need their guitar, book, music stand, and additional accessories (picks, tuner, footstool, etc).

Practice in a visible place:
It is a good idea to have the student practicing in an open area where the parent can see them practicing, like the living room or family room. Kids may get distracted if they are in their room by themselves unsupervised.

No distractions allowed:
Practice time should be a time where the young student devotes their undivided attention to the guitar. There should not be loud noises or any type of distraction near the student. Keep other children seperate from the student.

Build up a routine:
It is important to have the student practice daily (or near daily) during pre-set times. Develop a practice schedule for the student where you (or the student) will gather up their study materials, go to their practice area, and practice the work from their previous lesson. If possible, have practice time be during the same time the student goes to their lesson at the teacher's studio.

How much practice time?:
I recommend practice times of 20-30 minutes for young students daily (or near daily). Of course, if they feel inspired to go for more, allow them to do so.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jersey City Guitar Lessons Teacher Performs

This is a video of me, Jesus Mansilla, teacher and owner of Jersey City Guitar Lessons, providing a sampling of my performance skills. I perform various classical guitar pieces in this video, but also have experience playing many other music styles such as rock, blues, alternative, pop, etc.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grand Opening!

Hello, this is Jesus Mansilla, owner and teacher at Jersey City Guitar Lessons, a new guitar lessons studio in Jersey City, New Jersey. This blog has been created to offer my students and guitarists in general helpful articles dealing with guitar studies, as well as provide an inside look at the running of a music studio. Check back here often for future articles.