Frequently asked questions:
3. Can I take lessons every other week instead of every week?
I do not recommended it as I believe it is important to have your tutor check your progress often enough to ensure you don’t pick up bad habits. By seeing me as your tutor every week you give me a chance to correct all those small, but in the long run potentially significant errors. If you need to cancel a lesson then you wouldn’t see your teacher for 4 weeks!!
4. What is the difference between private lessons and lessons at school?
Lessons at schools are usually very short and are taught in groups of 2 or 3. This does not give a teacher a chance to really concentrate on pupils’ individual needs and working on the correct technique. The key to learning to play any musical instrument is developing correct habits, so playing becomes a second nature. Without the attention to details results in developing bad habits, which prevent from progressing. From my experience of teaching pupils who started off learning to play guitar and ukulele at school I can tell that it is very difficult to correct all those bad habits and help them to start making the progress. The lessons at school might be less expensive and there is the social aspect of playing music with friends but I believe for the right development of a child’s skills a one to one approach is ideal.
5. What are the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument for kids?
Playing a musical instrument can be very beneficial for kids in many ways. It teaches them discipline, patience and that there are rewards from hard work and practice. Playing a musical instrument helps kids develop creative thinking and fine motor skills. Playing with others teaches how to work collectively to achieve shared goals. According to Dr Richard Letts of the Music Council of Australia “If a child studies music constantly over a period of time, they do better in school in all sorts of ways, including academically and socially.”
6. What are the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument for adults?
There are numerous benefits of learning to play an instrument. It makes you use both sides of your brain, which strengthens memory power. Playing an instrument gives you a sense of achievement and can expand your social circle. It teaches you perseverance, enhances coordination and sharpens concentration. If you start composing your own music, it becomes a great outlet for your creativity giving you a great satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Above all it is a great way to spend that ‘me time’ we all need in our lives.
7. Do adults learn slower?
This is a myth, which has been around for a very long time. It originated when musical education wasn’t so available for adults but, this statement is in my opinion not true. From my experience I can tell that the progress you can make is not related to your age at all. Adults do learn differently to children. Children are often said to absorb knowledge like a sponge, but this does not mean that for an adult the learning of a new skill will be a slow and painful process. The fact is that as an adult you have certain advantages. You have experience in learning new skills already and your analytical skills are already developed. You have also spent your entire life listening to music and have some understanding of the basic structure of music. You have the discipline to make yourself practise. You know what sort of music you like and want to play.
8. What is the right age for children to start lessons?
The youngest children I teach are 8 years old and I believe it is a great age to start. Children at that age are already capable of producing a sound on a guitar or ukulele and can concentrate for the length of the lessons. Obviously the tutor’s approach to teaching a student that young has to be significantly different than when teaching an older pupil. For example, using lots of games to keep younger children engaged through having fun.
9. How long does it take to learn an instrument?
It is one of the most asked questions and possibly the hardest one to answer since everybody is so different. If it were possible to draw a ‘progress’ line it would look completely different from one person to another. Some make great progress initially but slow down later on, others are slow starters but when they learn the basic technique their progress speeds up. It is worth keeping in mind that guitar is one of those instruments which can require more patience initially since it can take some time to develop the right technique, hands co-ordination and strength.
10. I don't have any musical background or ability, can I still help my child practise
Yes. I find that parents can contribute largely to their children’s musical education by talking to the tutor on a regular basis. I try to tailor my teaching approach to each student individually and your feedback on how your child learns best, for example is valuable information for me. You can observe which parts of their practise routine he or she enjoys doing more and feed it back to me. I am, on the other hand happy to give you a quick summary of each session and the plan for the coming weeks.
11. What sort of guitar should I buy to start learning?
If you know what type of music you or your child would like to learn then the choice becomes rather easy. If it is a classical music, then nylon strung guitar is an obvious choice. For rock music electric guitar would be most suitable (you’ll need an amplifier!), and if you want to learn to strum chords to your favourite pop-rock songs then acoustic guitar (with metal strings) would be the first one to consider. For children, especially those who don’t have any clear preferences for a music genre usually a 1/2 size or 3/4 nylon strung classical guitar is the best choice. Regardless of which type of the guitar you decide to purchase always buy it from a music shop. I highly recommend avoiding guitars sold in toy shops - they may look nice but are almost never of good quality. I would personally avoid the internet as well and visit a local shop as that gives you a chance to compare a number of different guitars and you get help choosing your first instrument. Whichever guitar type you decide on I believe the decision should be based primarily on how comfortable and easy it is to play it, not the colour or shape. If it feels hard to play it may be putting you or your child off from practising. If you have more questions regarding this subject feel free to contact me.
12. What type of ukulele I should buy to start learning?
There a few types of ukulele including: soprano, concert, tenor and a baritone. By far the most popular among the beginner ukulele players is the soprano, often called ‘standard’. The concert ukulele is slightly bigger making it marginally easier to play if you have larger hands. The scale is a few notes longer and the sound tends to be a bit warmer and deeper. The tenor ukulele is even bigger in size with the baritone being the biggest in the ukulele family.
It is ok to start with an inexpensive instrument as long as you buy it from a music shop and not a toy shop. Music shops care about their reputation and make sure the instrument is of at least a decent quality, which cannot be guaranteed when you purchase an instrument form a toy shop.
13. Is it easy to switch from ukulele to guitar?
It is not necessarily very easy to switch from ukulele to guitar, though having the experience of playing ukulele will make learning guitar easier. That is because playing ukulele hopefully gave you some transferable skills, such as: strumming and playing chords, which are somewhat similar for both instruments. On the other hand, there are some significant differences. The most important being that guitar has an extra two strings. It may not seem like much but it actually makes a big difference. Also, the tension of strings is higher on guitar than it is on ukulele. The frets on guitar are much wider, which can be a good thing if your fingers are larger, but it could be something that may take children some time to get used to. Is switching to guitar worth the trouble then? Absolutely, yes. Guitar offers a much wider range of notes and dynamics, along with a much larger variety of sounds available.
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