Beginning Guitar Student

Nathan Smith said: Aug 25, 2014
 Violin, Viola
Nashville, TN
2 posts

I am mainly a violin/viola teacher and have been very successful teaching these to both adults and children alike. My teaching style is very open and while I do maintain the Suzuki style with my younger students, I also like to mix in fiddle tunes, or pop songs as a way to keep the students engaged and motivated. (I have one 10-year-old student who’s learning a Katy Perry song and has tripled her weekly practicing!)
I recently took on a new guitar student who is 5 years old. Most times, a 5-year-old student is no problem, especially when teaching violin. This student is quite difficult and very immature for his age though, and guitar is not my primary instrument.
If anyone has any suggestions on different exercises or games we could do I would really appreciate it. He’s really excited to “learn to play the gee-tar like Luke Bryan” but he has trouble focusing for even 5 seconds at a time.
Thanks in advance!

Jennifer Visick said: Aug 30, 2014
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Perhaps a “focus” game is in order.

I’ve got a set of sand timers, each a different length of time (30 seconds, 1 minute, 90 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes) and a different color. Sometimes I use them as focus exercises: Can you watch this until the time is up? Can you hold your instrument in “rest” position while you watch it? Can you balance on one foot, etc.

http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C899%2C056&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1409454797387

*Also, perhaps you need to sit down and make a list of 5-second lessons.

*simon says, starting with short instructions, don’t play this for too long at a time

*give the student a walking break (or a water break, or a whatever break) every few activities. Tell them “first we’ll do this, then that, then you get a break”—If the student knows and has hope that an “unfocused” break is coming up SOON, they are more likely to be able to focus when you ask.

*use a counter (my current favorite are “Zuki Beads”—because they clip to a music stand and are customizable. I’ve got two. When I’ve got a young student, I sometimes prep by taking off all but 3 beads before their lesson starts: http://www.sharmusic.com/Accessories/Teaching-Aids/Zuki-Practice-Beads-For-Young-Players.axd#sthash.B2Qvohm1.dpbs )

*ask the parent what their advice is; teach the parent while the child colors (or something)—

*do breathing/centering/gentle stretching exercises

*don’t expect too much focus from a 5 year old… everyone develops at their own pace

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