Are you having fun learning guitar? If there’s one thing I’ve discovered over the years as a teacher, it’s the importance of keeping things simple and fun for my students. This can sometimes require a bit of creative thinking on my part. But I find, if I pay attention to my students, I am often able to discover where their musical interests and desires lie. When I can key into these personal and motivational impulses, then I am able to direct that energy in a positive direction. The result is a happy student who is having fun learning guitar!
When a new student first arrives at my studio they are often filled with hopeful expectations. Many have visions of being able to play like one of their guitar heroes someday. This is all well and good as it establishes a goal. But it usually isn’t long before they realize that visions and reality can be worlds apart! Playing like a professional guitarist requires a bit of discipline and hard work, not to mention sore fingers! The trick to having fun learning guitar is to mix a little business with pleasure! To do this, I recommend that a student spend time practicing the fundamentals as well as learn something they want to play.
Often a student will mention to me that there is a song they’d like to learn. Even if I think that it’s beyond their current level and ability, I still do not want to discourage them from pursuing it. Instead, I try to break the song down into small, bite-size pieces, or perhaps pull out a particular technique for them to work on first. I have found this approach to be very effective because my guitar students are more inspired to practice when they are playing what they want to learn. Their skill level seems to improve more rapidly too, and they are enjoying themselves in the process. That’s what it’s all about in my book!
If a student doesn’t have a particular song in mind, then I will often suggest something for them to try. I find that simplified versions of classic rock riffs are great motivators- especially for kids. Some examples that I’ve used and had success with include Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, and Foxy Lady by Jimi Hendrix. Another popular and easy rock riff is Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones.
If you’re a guitar student who is not having fun learning guitar, then I suggest you find something you’d like to learn. It will make a big difference in how you look at practicing!
Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years.