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As lunch time guitar lessons worth the bother?

(23 Posts)
bacon Mon 25-Jan-16 12:41:27

Ive been paying £50 a term for guitar lessons for my 10yr old for 1.5yrs. I have only been told now that it is only 5-8mins once a week done in groups of 2 in a large group. Now DS1 cannot strum a tune and we are unable to provide any help as neither of us can read music.

The school is in financial problems and can no longer provide any help with subbing these lessons and the price is going up.

My question is really is there any point in continuing forking out when I would be better paying an hours lesson once a fortnight with a private tutor - usually around £20ph. Surely working on a 6 week term it would only cost me £10 more however it does mean taking him to someones home, hanging around somewhere (as rural cant just pop back). The only other option is to see if I can find a tutor to go to our school and share the lesson with someone else - there will be travel costs but still work out cheaper. However the school is small and finding a room may be problematic.

What do others do?

BackforGood Mon 25-Jan-16 12:52:20

That is incrediby cheap for music lessons
However, sometimes it's the child rather than the teacher.
How much does he practice?
I paid for lessons for my dd2 for ages (1/2 hr a week, in my house, someone who'd taught my others and was a very good teacher) but she just didn't 'get it' not helped by the fact she never practiced. dd1 OTOH, just had a couple of 10 mins lessons with her cousin showing her a few basics, and picked up the rest from internet tutorials - she plays really well. I guess, if he's motivated, he would be able to learn from internet tutorials. If he's not then a half hour lesson a week still won't help.
You don't need to be able to red music to play the guitar.

bacon Mon 25-Jan-16 13:05:42

He's not confident enough (and lost confidence) and like me needs guidance in how to understand things. He is not one to sit in front of the PC and learn and I'd rather he understood the basics before he runs.

Yes its cheap because its a shared lesson and I dont think its working for him.

howabout Mon 25-Jan-16 17:10:00

I would say wait if he is not picking it up. By secondary school there will likely be more options, either through the school or group lessons or even self teaching. Your termly rate is not that cheap as I pay the same for 20 minutes structured one to one lesson at school.

Ferguson Mon 25-Jan-16 17:44:25

Guitar is one of the hardest instruments, and I always advise Keyboard as a better option for beginners.

Students also need to LISTEN to as much varied music as possible.

Zazedonia Mon 25-Jan-16 17:52:18

It's completely pointless, unless he does quite a bit of practice at home on his own, using a book.
Wait till secondary and think again about what would be the best instrument for him. For quick progress and being able to play in groups, brass instruments are good. Woodwind also easy.

Mistigri Mon 25-Jan-16 18:20:03

I don't agree that guitar is a "hard instrument" - it may be hard to play well, but assuming even half competent teaching, the average 10 year old should be able to learn to play the basic minor and major chord shapes and strum a few simple songs within a few weeks. If your DC can't do that after a year and a half then I think you are wasting your money and would be better finding group or individual classes outside school.

Guitar is one of the few instruments that lends itself to group classes, which reduces cost, but you do need a good teacher who knows how to work with students of different levels. DD and I both do group guitar classes and a good teacher can work effectively with really quite disparate levels within a single class, by giving different guitar parts to each student. (I'm talking about contemporary and jazz guitar here obv not classical).

OldBeanbagz Wed 27-Jan-16 10:03:17

Do you have a local music service that offers group lessons that are longer? I don't think it the group lesson that is letting your DS down. Rather the length of the lesson. Does he practise much between lessons?

Personally i'd go for a half hour lesson every week rather than an hour every two weeks and encourage him to keep practising.

My DD started playing the guitar when she was 7 and could play recognisable tunes within the first term. Neither DH and i play but i could (and still can 7 years later) tell if she plays the notes wrong.

twofalls Fri 29-Jan-16 16:53:58

It's all down to how much he practises. A one to one lesson would be much more beneficial but only if he is motivated to practice. DH is a guitar teacher and says daily practice - 5 - 10 mins a day will show progress but has to be daily.

Please don't stick him in front of YouTube, the amount of truly atrocious technique DH has had to correct by people teaching themselves is shocking. YouTube is great when they have more experience but not good for beginners.

AlaskaWaves Fri 29-Jan-16 17:04:30

That lesson is far too short! 20-30 mins is probably best for a beginner/child. Remember there is a certain amount of saying hello, setting up, getting comfortable, tuning etc before anything is actually played/recapped or taught. Any longer than 30 minutes and they will lose concentration and get sore fingers.
I teach classroom music, and whilst not ideal, I have taught guitar to a whole class (20+ students) at the same time, and agree with a PP that after a few weeks the students should be able to play a few basic chord shapes at least.
Individual practise between lessons is also important to keep things fresh in the mind and to improve- even just 5-10 mins a day going over what has been covered in the lesson will help.

mom17 Tue 02-Feb-16 05:02:39

Can somebody please tell me how to gauge guitar lesson progress ? DS is learning Piano hence he can read music and we started guitar class with another teacher who is teaching music mainly song wise and covers chord, scales, strum pattern. Is it a correct way ? or should there be a defined curriculum ? We don't want classical way but would like him to appear for some exams just to know/show he is progressing.

Mistigri Tue 02-Feb-16 10:49:36

It depends entirely what you/ he want to do mom17.

If your DS wanted to play classical guitar what he's doing would of course not be adequate. For contemporary/jazz/rock guitar, it's fine. Obviously with the proviso that it depends on the quality of the teaching - one of the downsides of non-classical guitar is that because many guitarists are self-taught and have little in the way of formal study, there are a lot of basically unqualified people teaching it.

If you look at the Rockschool syllabus you'll see that what is examined is based on chords, riffs and improvisation (and scales, because you can't improvise easily without knowing scales). You can download the rockschool pieces in a dedicated app - it's a pretty good and well designed app actually. You don't need to read music, tab is fine, when you download the pieces you will see them in both tab and classical notation.

My daughter who studies with a (very qualified) jazz guitarist hasn't done any exams and most likely never will. After grade 4 the rockschool syllabus seems very heavy-rock-influenced (my DD didn't like any of the grade 5 or 6 pieces she looked at) and really targeted at virtuoso electric guitarists - my dd is more of a finger picker and rhythm guitarist. Tbh I think exams for rock music are a bit of an odd notion really, though the (trinity?) jazz syllabus might be worth considering.

mom17 Tue 02-Feb-16 13:43:03

you are absolutely right, most of guitar teachers are self taught. When I started, my aim for him was just to participate in school band etc but now at times I think proper method should have been nice as anyway we are investing time/money. Rock/jazz seems to be interesting, thanks for updating me. I had no clue of "finger picker and rhythm guitarist".

twofalls Tue 02-Feb-16 14:19:18

The problem is mom17, when you start putting exams into the equation it can sometimes take the joy out of it (am talking rock/jazz guitar, not classical). DH teaches electric and acoustic guitar (and has been doing so successfully in our town for 15 years) and will put children in for exams if they want to (he follows the RGT syllabus) but quite often the minute parents take their dc down an exam route they stop progressing because they get bored with it - they want to learn songs and get ready for playing in a band and exams are not really geared towards that. As pp said, it very much depends on what you want to get out of it.

As for progress, obvioulsy none will be made without practice. Contrary to what some people seem to believe, mastering the guitar is difficult and takes significant effort. Talk to his teacher about how he feels he is progressing and how he likes to measure progress. A obvious measure is how well can he play the songs he is learning.

mom17 Tue 02-Feb-16 15:00:36

thats true twofalls but how do a musically ignorant parent judge the progress after 1-2 yrs. As of now it is been 9 months so I am pretty much fine him learning new new songs ( assuming those will encounter new chord etc) but technicalities wise I have no idea what all he should have learned after 1-2 years as in chords, any other technique...

What is time frame for him to be good enough to pick any new song on his own and done with this way of learning ( just-for-fun-way )

Mistigri Tue 02-Feb-16 18:05:29

Tbh mom17 it depends a lot on the child and what they're motivated to do. DD started guitar on her own using the (excellent, but primarily aimed at adult learners) website for technique and the ultimate guitar website for tabs and chord sequences for cover versions of songs. But she was older (nearly 12) and had a solid music background.

I think rock/ contemporary guitar is something that should be pursued primarily for pleasure. Many rock guitarists pick up a guitar for the first time as adults or older teens and still reach a very competent level. Rock guitar is NOT difficult, it's just a question of practice (lots). I've seen teenagers playing pieces that are easily as hard as a rockschool grade 5 or 6 exam piece - within 6 months of picking up a guitar and with barely any lessons. So there is absolutely no hurry to be playing virtuoso guitar solos at this point! For younger students, the important thing is pleasure and motivation, and if possible some theoretical understanding - rather than technical prowess.

PS - finger picking or finger style is playing with fingers instead of a pick, kind of like halfway house between rock and classical guitar - think the opening of Stairway to Heaven, or the Beatle's Blackbird (both of these are classic early intermediate pieces to try!), or most folk music smile

twofalls Tue 02-Feb-16 21:09:32

Mistigri are you serious? Rock guitar is not difficultshock ? Have you ever tried to play like Hendrix, Van Halen, Jimmi Paige? Yes kids might be able to pick up a few riffs and licks from the Internet and look the part but to play like one of the greats and master rock guitar is hard (this is from our music teacher friend who plays flute, piano and bass).

Mom17, in terms of progress you really need to talk to his teacher about what he is covering, what he should be practising and how the teacher is measuring his progress. A good teacher will be more than willing to discuss.

Mistigri Tue 02-Feb-16 22:26:31

Complete mastery of any instrument is hard, no one becomes a virtuouso player without serious hard work, that's not what I'm saying. My point is that unlike most classical instruments, it's possible to reach a decent functional level on the guitar pretty quickly, although obviously you still have to put in the practice if you want to be any good.

I participate once a week in a jazz/rock workshop run by a professional jazz musician - we're all various levels of not particularly good, but we sound all right and we have fun. We all started guitar as adults and most of us had never played an instrument before. Imagine giving a bunch of novice adults orchestral instruments - it would be much harder to achieve a listenable result! That's what I mean by guitar being "not hard".

While most serious violinists and pianists start young, this is much less true of guitarists, so there is absolutely no hurry to rush through grades. What's more important is having some fun, learning some basics, avoiding developing bad habits, and hopefully learning some of the building blocks of guitar music (for eg how chords can be played in different shapes and positions on the neck).

mom17 Wed 03-Feb-16 04:19:59

Thanks Mistigri for making me little literate guitar wise , will ask DS's teacher to start him on Stairway to Heaven, or the Beatle's Blackbird etc. Ds doesn't do much practice ( 10-15 mins 4-5 days/week) but now I will ask him to regular.

twofalls Wed 03-Feb-16 21:38:43

Mom, rather than asking your guitar teacher to start him on those pieces perhaps ask him for ideas that are at your DS' level that your DS actually enjoys. Have you listened to music with your DS - worked out what he likes, what bands and guitarist inspire him? He will progress far more quickly if he is learning what he loves.

For what it's worth just asked DH and he said stairway to heaven is probably about a grade 7 piece including the solo, the intro is probably about grade 3 or 4. It can be simplified but that's if you want to play like the original. He pretty much starts everyone off on Smoke on the water.

Mistigri Wed 03-Feb-16 22:26:16

I agree with twofalls - much more sensible for your son to explore and play music he enjoys, at his level, under his teacher's guidance.

The examples I gave were just to give you an idea of what fingerpicking sounds like, as compared to strumming chords, or playing with a pick; they're songs that most teenagers teach themselves to play at some point (kind of a rite of passage for guitarists ...) but they're not a good starting point for learning fingerstyle. If your son wants to learn songs like this at a later stage, you can easily find the tabs on-line.

mom17 Fri 05-Feb-16 05:21:37

Thanks Mistigri and twofalls. Twofalls, can you pls. tell me few beginner songs like whatever your DH starts along with " Smoke on the water", planning to ask teacher to teach him those.

StompyFreckles Sat 06-Feb-16 20:54:14

Ds (8) started guitar at school last September (2014) - he took grade 1 in the autumn and is moving on to grade 3 now - he has a musical background already, which has helped, but he also practises regularly, with our support, which has helped him to progress quickly. Practise (and parental involvement) is the key I believe!

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