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Guitar lessons

(18 Posts)
thisagain Sat 26-Mar-16 07:46:00

Hi, how long would any guitar players on here think it would take a 13 year old (who plays piano grade 6, clarinet and singing grade 4 and theory grade 4/5) to pick up playing guitar (chords only) fairly well so that she play songs and sing. With no exams. She is starting over the Easter holidays and having quite a lot of lessons in that time.

Nobodyspecialanymore Sat 26-Mar-16 07:52:51

A couple of months to achieve basic fluid chord and strumming, quick chord changes, if she is practicing for at least an hour a day. The more she plays, the better, obviously. I play piano, if anything it hindered me being classically trained first!
Past that, fingerpicking, it took me perhaps 3 years to play anything I wanted to play, and I'm still improving...Guitar isn't an easy option...
Get her a full sized guitar. I hope she enjoys it!

Mistigri Sat 26-Mar-16 08:44:04

Not very long at all if she works at it!

My DD started guitar age 11, nearly 12, with some prior music experience. After two weeks of intensive practice (I do mean intensive - up to 8 hours a day) she could accompany herself on songs using pretty much any open chord with relatively simple strumming patterns. It took a little longer for barre chords to be completely secure as these require some hand strength to play correctly with all the strings sounding clearly. Barre chords are easier to master on an electric guitar than an acoustic because the neck is narrower, the strings lighter and the action lower (action = string distance from the fretboard).

For quick progress it helps to have a decent guitar - if acoustic, then you want a steel stringed acoustic not a classic guitar (much harder to learn to play barre chords on a classical guitar because a beginner will find the neck a bit wide). Having a good acoustic (steel string) guitar that is the correct size for your daughter and has an action that is low but not too low will help enormously both with progress and motivation. Get advice when buying and have the set up checked by someone who knows what they are doing.

With her music background your daughter does not need to wait for lessons to start. There are some marvellous Internet resources in particular the excellent justinguitar site.

Mistigri Sat 26-Mar-16 08:52:31

PS while classical guitars are standard sizes, there is no such thing as a "full size" acoustic or electric guitar. Take advice. My DD started on a Taylor GS mini which is a scaled-down steel-stringed acoustic marketed to adults who want a more portable guitar. She now plays a Taylor GA, which is as big as she'd want. She finds the body on the most common acoustic size (dreadnought) to be a little large for comfortable hand and arm positioning.

BertrandRussell Sat 26-Mar-16 08:54:46

Some people find playing and singing at the same time surprisingly difficult. Ds is in a band with a very musical friend who just can't do it- it's like rubbing your head and patting your tummy....

Does she need to learn quickly for some reason?

thisagain Sat 26-Mar-16 09:25:32

No, not at all. Apart from her school has quite a lot of shows, and she wants to audition! We have 2 guitars in our loft because me elder daughter played Spanish Guitar. I'm not sure what make but know that one has an amp and cost about £200. We will be getting it out today! She plays the piano and sings a bit so not a totally alien concept to her but we'll have to see!

Mistigri Sat 26-Mar-16 09:35:28

Get someone who knows about guitars to have a look at the guitars you already have - if possible take to a guitar shop for a quick once over (guitars stored in a loft may have deteriorated or cracked). You will probably also need to change the strings, which you can do quite easily yourself (just YouTube it for instructions).

It really does make a huge difference having the "right" guitar - it's easy for beginners to get demotivated if their guitar is too big or badly set up, because it can make intensive playing painful (and dangerous for hand health). DD started on an old 3/4 classical but moved to an acoustic after about a week and it made a big difference.

It is true that some people find singing and playing at the same time as easy as breathing (my dd) and others find it hard or impossible. But if your DD can play the piano and sing, then I doubt very much she will have a problem singing and playing guitar!

thisagain Sat 26-Mar-16 09:42:53

Thanks. I will take our better guitar to a guitar shop today (assuming they are open) to ask their opinion.

Mistigri Sat 26-Mar-16 13:07:00

Have fun smile

Best thing my daughter ever did was pick up a guitar. It has been literally life changing. She doesn't want a career as a musician but she enjoys playing live and has her own slot on a local radio station. And it has been very positive for her other instruments too (playing guitar and having a strong background in chord structure and progressions seems to help massively with things like transposition and improvisation on the piano)

thisagain Sat 26-Mar-16 15:37:59

Thanks for all your advice. The guitar apparently is a solid top Jose Ferrer Concert Grand. Any opinions?

Nobodyspecialanymore Sat 26-Mar-16 16:20:12

It's a classical guitar, she is going to want a steel string, what they term a folk guitar, for signing and playing. It's great for playing classical flamenco, but not so much for what she seems to want. It also has a wider neck and shorter fretboard compared to a steel string.

Mistigri Sat 26-Mar-16 16:49:15

IMO it is fine to use any guitar to start with, but depending how keen she is, you may need to reconsider in a few weeks.

You can play folk/ pop music on a classical guitar - however your DD may find the neck a bit wide for playing anything more than simple open chords especially if she doesn't have big hands. Nylon strings will be OK for finger picking, less good for strumming with a pick. They are also much quieter than steel strings which may be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your point of view ;)

See how keen she is, and also see what sort of music she wants to play. If she is mainly interested in acoustic versions of pop songs then a steel-stringed acoustic, if she wants to play in a band then an electric guitar. Or both, because as all guitarists know, the correct number of guitars to own is one more than you have now ;).

thisagain Sat 26-Mar-16 20:23:11

Thanks very much. I took the guitar in to a guitar shop and just asked the condition of it. They said fine but they will restring it, and I will collect on Tuesday. It was agreed that this was perfectly good for her first few lessons and I would take it from there. She has quite long fingers and a good stretch from piano playing so should be fine for a bit. She is currently more interested in acoustic versions of pop songs so will probably ultimately get a steel stringed acoustic.

ReallyTired Wed 30-Mar-16 15:05:33

I think that the classical guitar with nylon strings is better for a beginner. Nylon strings are less painful for a beginner. Spending hours practicing may not be realistic as she will need to build up strength and toughness in her fingers.

thisagain Fri 01-Apr-16 21:31:08

Thanks. Her guitar teacher has suggested practicing for only 10 minutes at a time. I'm sure she couldn't practice for hours at this point!

Nobodyspecialanymore Sat 02-Apr-16 04:15:51

Everyone gets blisters and develops calluses. The more you play the better.
Practising chord changes - g to C, for instance, is very helpful.
Dead flowers by the stones is just g, c and d...It's great if you can strum along to a song, feel like you are getting somewhere. If you have a call, that is also fun.
I didn't have one formal lesson for guitar, but admittedly could play the piano first, and taught myself by reading chord charts, and learning songs, before writing my own.
I hope she enjoys the guitar!

Mistigri Sat 02-Apr-16 12:19:11

If she is playing a nylon string guitar it should be possible to increase practice time quite rapidly. My dd started on a classical guitar and she didn't find that practice time needed to be limited by finger skin.

Also, there are things that can be done which aren't hard on the fingers but which will make a huge difference later, like learning the notes on the bottom two strings (low E and A strings) - eventually she'll need to know all the notes on these strings up to the 12th fret ie one octave. Once you know this, it makes it very easy to find all the different chord positions (on the guitar there are multiple positions for every chord).

IslaSinga Thu 07-Apr-16 23:26:41

Ds (8) is has a good musical base with grade 5 violin and he also started guitar 18 months ago. He progressed quickly and after getting grade 1 distinction is working on grade 3 now. He has found picking up playing guitar pretty easy and he finds practising enjoyable on the whole!

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