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WHAT IS A GOOD AGE TO START PLAYING GUITAR?

A student should be at least five-six years of age to have private or group lessons. Playing the guitar requires a fair amount of fingertip pressure when pressing the strings. Children younger than five generally have smaller hands and will likely find playing to be uncomfortable or even painful to their fingers.


WHAT TYPE/STYLE OF GUITAR IS THE BEST ONE TO START WITH?

This is the most important question for every beginner. The guitar is such a versatile instrument that there are many different styles and methods of playing it. Classical, folk, rock, flamenco, and blues are just some of the classifications of guitar music that require very different methods, styles, skills, and even instruments. Most guitarists specialize in just one or two of these areas.

On the other hand, it's very useful to learn the basics of many guitar styles. It's a good idea to know how to read standard notation (notes) and tablature notation, as well as chord charts, regardless of what style of guitar you normally play. If you can play a solo line, rock, classical and jazz scales, as well as chord strumming and picking, this will make you a much more versatile guitarist.

The difficulty involved in playing any type of guitar depends entirely on how far the student wants to go with the instrument. It is comparatively easy to play simple chords or melodies using either type of guitar, but several years of serious study are required to become an accomplished guitarist using either one.


WHICH OF THE GUITAR TYPES IS EASIEST/MOST DIFFICULT TO PLAY?

A far more important consideration for the student is which type of guitar will bring the most personal satisfaction and satisfy the individual's taste. However, the nylon stringed classical guitar is, likely, more rewarding for beginners and actually easier to play. Melodic and full sounding, short solos can be played after only a few weeks of good study. It’s easier to play because the strings of the nylon stringed classical guitar are softer and more flexible than steel strings, resulting in less irritation of the left hand fingertips.



SHOULD I LEARN TO READ STANDARD NOTATION (notes) OR TABLATURE (tab)?

Standard music notation as we know it today is the result of several thousand years of attempts to place music on paper. Tab or tablature, while still used in historic reprints of music for the lute, etc., does not offer the best set of tools for conveying music. The great majority of music offered to the guitarist is provided in formal music notation, i.e. notes on staves (staff).

Learning proper musical notation is the recommended procedure for anyone wishing to play anything beyond the simplest of folk songs. At LearnGuitare, we teach our students to be literate, i.e., in addition to technique (how to play the guitar), we also cover theory, notes, notations, rhythm, counting, etc.


IS THE CLASSICAL GUITAR STRICTLY FOR PLAYING CLASSICAL MUSIC?

The expression “Classical Guitar” does not imply that the instrument is just for classical music. It is applied to the instrument itself because it has its origins in the first rank of instruments and not from any specific association with a particular type of music; in other words it is a classic.



HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE A STUDENT TO BE ABLE TO PLAY?

The answer depends on the student’s natural ability, how much practicing he/she does, and the age. Playing is a physical skill, so it takes repetition to improve. Typically, if a beginning guitar student practices 30-60 minutes every day, he/she will be able to play recognizable tunes in a short time. A student with prior music knowledge will definitely have an edge as well. Practice makes perfect, but most students take a minimum of one year to learn a good portion of the basics and a lifetime to master!


HOW LONG A GUITAR LESSON SHOULD A STUDENT HAVE?

The length of a private lesson depends on each student’s guitar playing experience, age, and practicing ability during the lesson. We recommend setting up an evaluation appointment to determine the optimum lesson length. There is no cost for this.

Typically, we suggest a 30-minute private lesson for beginners. As they progress, they can advance to a longer session if they choose to do so. For older or intermediate guitar students, a 45 or 60-minute lesson is recommended. A longer lesson will cover not only more of the technical and theoretical aspects of guitar playing, but also a repertoire improvement. For guitarists who play at the advanced level, a longer lessons are ideal.



FINGERS OR PLECTRUM/PICK PLAYING STYLE; WHICH IS THE BEST ONE?

A student should first decide what type of guitar to use. Typically, a common way to play an Electric Guitar is the pick style. However, some of the Electric Guitar techniques require a minimum understanding of finger ability to play. A 50/50 approach (mixing) is useful for technique and is introduced.



WHAT KIND OF GUITAR METHOD BOOKS AND OTHER GUITAR EQUIPMENT SHOULD A STUDENT PURCHASE?

We encourage students to schedule an evaluation appointment with the instructor who would offer recommendations regarding what equipment and/or materials to buy or rent. LearnGuitare offers the necessary books for sale, so that the student will not have to locate them at a bookstore or other source.

If a private lessons student prefers to use an old book, which he/she has from prior guitar lessons, we recommend showing it to the instructor so that he may be able to determine the best way to develop the student’s further skills. Group lessons use only one type of method book for the classes.


HOW MUCH SHOULD A STUDENT PRACTICE?

Generally, a beginner should practice 20 to 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. For young students, practicing is much more effective if a parent supervises the session. The instructor usually assigns beginners a requisite number of repetitions instead of a designated amount of time. We have found this to be more effective with younger children; they tend to respond better to repetition.

With intermediate, advanced or older students we recommend that they practice as much as they can. It is important to practice correctly and not just play. While playing is fun, a student will progress faster and ultimately will enjoy it more, and sooner.

It's also important to note that the learning process should not be rushed. It takes time to experience the thrill of truly learning how to play the instrument.

As with any worthwhile accomplishment, learning to play the guitar requires dedication, time, and effort.

Students should give themselves time to “grow” to the guitar; this is a gradual process. Students, who try to speed the process by attempting to learn the difficult parts of technique without properly gradually developing, will find learning the guitar an arduous task, and will soon dislike it.

The most productive and positive effort is the one put toward establishing good practice habits and applying them regularly.

The speed of a student's progress depends, to a great extent, on the amount of daily practice. It takes time to develop the mind and muscles for playing this responsive instrument effectively. So, be patient.

Students should derive pleasure out of knowing that they have studied and practiced well, and are becoming acquainted with one of the most beautiful and personal of instruments.


WHICH GUITAR SHOULD A STUDENT BUY?

For the beginner we suggest arranging an appointment in order to best assess the appropriate size, type, and style of playing.

If the student already has a guitar (any type), it will be good to bring it, so we can inspect it and determine whether it is appropriate for the lessons or a new one should be purchased.

If you are unsure or have doubts about whether you or your child will want to pursue further guitar lessons and do not wish to spend the money to buy a new guitar, LearnGuitare has a limited number of classical nylon stringed guitars for rent; please contact us for details on the rental contract.

We recommend against the purchase of a guitar that costs several hundred or thousands of dollars. On the other hand, cheap guitars are just that. In general, the guitar should be solid with no loose parts inside; shaking the guitar gently will give you an indication. It’s also important that the strings are not too high off the fret board.

VERY IMPORTANT! Do not buy a steel stringed guitar and replace the strings with nylon ones. There are two main reasons for this: Classical guitars are less rigid than steel string ones, allowing the strings to increase the vibration of the wood and thus produce better sound quality; and steel string guitars tend to have necks which vary in width.

A steel-string guitar has a truss rod in the neck designed to put backward tension on the neck to compensate for the great force and pull of the steel strings. With the lesser-tensioned nylon strings, over time the neck may bend back and ultimately damage the guitar, (though not as quickly as putting steel strings on a classical guitar), and that leads us to a VERY important recommendation.

NEVER replace nylon strings with steel strings on a classical guitar, nor should you buy a classical guitar with steel strings on it. Main reasons: A classical guitar does not have a truss rod in the neck that is designed to put backward tension on the neck of the steel stringed guitar to compensate for the great force and pull of the steel strings. With the high-tension of steel strings on a classical guitar, over time the neck will bow (bend), the bridge will uplift from the sound board and severely damage the instrument.

 

We hope that this answers some of the questions you may have...If you have other questions, please contact us by phone, 909-717-5251 or email, pat@learnguitare.com

 

You can contact LearnGuitare anytime by phone or text at 909-717-5251 email: pat@learnguitare.com