I like to show my students how to arpeggiate chords on the guitar — pick the notes out one at a time while letting them ring together — and also show them how to create little fingering “extensions” that offer them neat and fairly easy ways to make their chord playing sound more interesting and melodic than simply strumming or arpeggiating the chords.
In this column, I’d like to share with you a useful lesson that I teach my students, and that is the importance of rests, or silence, in music, and how to achieve it in a meaningful, controlled manner. I do this by teaching them some basic, stock jazz “riffs” that are both fun to play and beneficial for their general technique development.
My biggest challenge on a daily basis is addressing 30-plus young teenagers at a time and maintaining their attention and focus by keeping them engaged and captivated with the subject matter at hand. In this column, I’d like to share an approach I’ve developed and taken with my students that helps keep them motivated to pay attention, practice and explore the instrument more on their own time.
Hello. My name is Mark Hale, and I teach general music and guitar to elementary school students, grades K-4, in Nashville. Having done this for a few years and experimented with various approaches, I have come up with what I believe to be a very effective and fun approach to teaching young, beginner-level students how to tap into the creative part of their brains and improvise melodies. I’d like to share this approach with you.
After learning a handful of stock chord shapes in first and second position — what are commonly referred to as “open” chords or “cowboy” chords — it can be liberating for your fretting hand to venture beyond the first three frets, move up the neck and get acquainted with the sweet sounds of chords played in the higher positions.
Being assigned the ongoing mission of teaching a new crop of middle school students each year to play guitar on a beginner level in a group setting, I’ve had numerous opportunities to try various approaches to getting the kids to focus on learning to play the instrument without becoming bored or frustrated.