My colleague Bradford Werner has recently issued a Classical Guitar Method for Beginners. I invite everyone to check it out: it is clear, accessible, extremely well thought through, and fun to learn from. Every piece and exercise has a very specific purpose to facilitate learning, achieve ease and comfort at the instrument, and help develop the right habits from the start.
The Method includes:
lots of enjoyable teacher-student duets
carefully chosen solo pieces
note-spelling and note-finding exercises
an introduction to chords and multiple music styles on guitar
an introduction to scales
I use it in addition to the Suzuki Repertoire as reading and playing material for young children as well as an essential learning resource for adult students. It works for all ages!
Basics: bow, 4 steps, rest position, play position for different songs, finger names
Starting together: beginnings on Batman and Twinkle
G pentascale together, naming the notes.
Activity-coded cards on the board (in various order):
– Monkey song with body reference/solfege scale do to sol with hand symbols
– Conducting different songs with feathers, in duple meter: Twinkle, Cuckoo, Hot Cross Buns, Row Your Boat.
– Testing each other on notes from G pentascale
– Learning Hot Cross Buns on the spot, each participant has their own phrase.
Student 1: B A G Student 2: B A G
Student 1: G G G G Student 2: A A A A
Together: B A G – Playback of simple 2 or 3-note melodies
– Making an original song: G G the Frog SONG
GG the Frog lyrics and melody
GG the frog – G G A B
Sat on a log – A G A D
There was another frog – B C A D B G
Trip to Marcus Dominelli‘s guitar making shop! We learned about the different woods and wood working tools. We learnt how guitars are put together and how they are made to be so shiny. We looked at tiny pieces of coloured wood from which all the different rosettes are made. We even got to turn the red mystery crank. And after all that, we got delicious ice cream.
A game of tic-tac-toe with a guitar activity in between each turn.
Played Cuckoo together and then learned See-Saw (D-B DD-B DD-BB DD-B). One child made a see-saw with his arms, and the other played, then the kids switched. Everyone sang along: See-saw, up and down, in the sky and on the ground.
Spelled the word CABBAGE with guitar sounds. Parents named the letters, the kids played. So, this is what C-A-B-B-A-G-E sounds like!
Put on our performance gear (a music cape and a music scarf) and played the following pieces: Batman (focused on watching the nods) 3 times Mississippi Hotdog on open G-B-E-B (Aka “Smoothie Stop” by MaryLou Roberts) Twinkle Variation A (focused on playing along no matter what, tapped the beat, stopping the sound, bowing to the applause)
Talented composer and guitarist from Vancouver Michael Bemmels writes Confectionary Sonata inspired by three nursery rhymes: “The Muffin Man,” “Hot Cross Buns,” and “Pat-a-Cake.” Watch here! Can you recognize the songs?
To start off, here is a tool for note learning called Note Houses, that I began using a few months ago, after watching some videos of the (highly regarded by me) piano teacherValeri Pyasetski. I have been drawing these with my students aged 5-10, and so far the results have been pretty good. My 6-year-old returned the week after we did the drawings, and proudly announced, “I learned a new piece from the book all by myself, because I had my houses! I didn’t need you!” Doesn’t every teacher live to hear that…
You tell them that the notes are windows in the house and that the houses are on the same street (treble clef). Of course, it works to place all the notes on the staff in one house – there are many variations. It’s the relatable context that I like in this concept. It’s easy to talk about houses and windows and neighbours and friends.
Once you have the treble notes down, you flip the paper and draw the Bass Clef houses (or whatever other clef you are learning.
Here are a couple of versions, with and without note heads.