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Electric Guitar

Getting Started

Many of my students begin lessons on the electric guitar. There are several benefits to starting out this way. The body size and shape of most electric guitars are smaller, lighter, and easier to manage for beginning students. The string gauge is lighter making it a bit easier to play as well. Student’s who are learning guitar between the ages of 7-10 have better success starting with a 3/4 sized guitar. Students who are starting at ages 10 – adult will do just fine with a full sized electric guitar. Most of my students will learn on a regular right-hand oriented instrument even if they are left-handed. However, it’s perfectly fine for a student to learn on a left-handed guitar if that feels more comfortable to them.  

Learning the electric guitar

Topics of Instruction

Technique

It takes a little bit of time to get comfortable playing notes with the left hand while also plucking or strumming strings with the right hand. So, I work with my students on exercises and music scales to help them develop their strength and coordination.  I also will utilize popular single-note songs to accomplish this as well.

Understanding how the guitar works

From day one I try to help beginning students establish a concrete understanding of how information is organized on the guitar.  The guitar can be initially confusing since it is a bit different from other instruments, such as the piano, strings, or brass. Essentially, the guitar is organized to the number 5.  I will work with students to memorize their string names, the notes on the fretboard, and how that relates to thinking about topics such as chords and scales.

Reading Music

One of my goals is to equip students to be able to decode written music so they can teach themselves songs.  Initially, I help students learn how to read tablature (which is a very guitar oriented form of music notation) so they have the skills necessary to learn songs that they can find on the internet.  After some time I move onto to teaching standard music notation.

Learning chords

For beginning students I often introduce simple 2-3 string chords that are found in many rock-oriented songs. I also will introduce a set of 15 guitar chords that are standard for the guitar. I also find it helpful to have students begin applying what they know to sections of songs which makes the journey of learning much more enjoyable!

Rhythm/Strumming

I introduce topics of strumming and rhythm to my students once they start gaining some mastery over chords. Rhythm, in many respects, is math in motion. I help students understand how to think about time-keeping (meter) while they develop their ability to play a repertoire of about 15 different rhythm patterns found in popular music.

Lead Guitar

Learning and creating guitar solos is a very rewarding aspect of the electric guitar. When students are ready and interested, I will introduce well known guitar solos that are friendly to beginning students. I also will break down the primary components of soloing to include scales, harmony considerations, common musical solo ideas, and how to think about musical form when learning or creating a guitar solo within a song.

Learning Songs

Songs represent the tangible rewards and achievements of working hard to learn a new instrument. They also function as motivating goals for myself and my students. From my experience, songs are the motivating reason why we start taking lessons in the first place.  Because of this, I want to find out, as soon as possible, which songs my students are most interested in learning. In face, I will try to find a song that a student can begin to learn in their first lesson if its a reachable goal.

Intermediate/Advanced Level Students

I am also comfortable working with students who have prior experience with the guitar. In general terms I work with intermediate/advanced students on further developing their technique, expanding their repertoire, and extending their understanding of chords and harmony. Many of my upper level students often take intermittent hourly lessons as I’m able to provide a lot of content that they can develop further on their own.

Lesson Supplies

Here are a few things you will need:

Selective focus photo of a guitarist playing their electric guitar.
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