America Gets Hip to the Guitar
The guitars’ popularity seemed to explode overnight. Musicians attending music schools in the early 1970’s tell stories of how suddenly, everyone seemed to have a guitar in hand.
What happened? In the mid and late 1960’s, English bands like the Beatles and Rolling Stones swept into the American consciousness with their new takes on American music. Guitar greats like BB King had been popular for decades, but it took new musicians and new music for America to really embrace the guitar.
Soon, the electric guitar was born, and the instrument’s popularity hasn’t stopped growing. Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Matthew Bellamy Duane Allman, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Brian May, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny, Joe Pass, George Benson, Eric Gales… and the beat goes on.
Today, the guitar is practically everywhere. And so it's no surprise that demand for guitar lessons is very high among students of all ages, and especially among children and teenagers.
How can you help your children succeed in guitar lessons?
Learning the guitar is greatly facilitated by:
- Knowing how to tune it. Playing and practicing on an instrument that is out of tune can sour the entire learning experience pretty quickly. That's why at Cy-Fair Music and Arts, guitar teachers will instruct your children on how to tune the guitar.
- Letting your kids teach you: Once students know how to tune their instrument, we suggest that your children show you how to do it. When your children get to teach you (for a change!), they’ll be able to show off newly learned skills. It will also help reinforce their learning – and you’ll be able to help in the future, if needed.
- Having a quiet space for practice. Is a child’s room really the best place to practice? When choosing a suitable room, keep in mind that the practice space should be quiet, orderly, and free of distractions. It’s a rare child who has a neat and tidy room with no distractions!
- Setting aside dedicated practice time. Consistent practice is important for learning anything, and the guitar is no exception. It doesn’t need to be a daily occurrence, but it should be frequent and regularly scheduled. Let your children know that even on those days they’d rather not practice, they’ll become comfortable and adept with the guitar much more quickly if they do. Be sure to talk with them about the learning curve, so they don’t expect to become a concert star overnight.
- Learning about the guitar’s history. We’re not talking about a dusty trip through the archives here, but rather an exciting journey into the lives of others who loved the guitar – and how the guitar changed as a result.
How did the Guitar Evolve?
Today, guitars seem quintessentially American – Red, White and Blue through and through. But in reality, guitars descended from the oud, one of the main instruments in the Middle Eastern and Arab worlds. The guitar’s evolution into the instrument it is today is a fascinating international journey and one your budding guitarists might appreciate.
Contexts for Guitar Lessons
Knowing the history of an instrument gives more meaning – both to the instrument and the learning experience. We encourage you to explore the guitar’s evolution with your children and make available a variety of videos and audio recordings from different cultures.
This will let them know that they’re not learning in a vacuum – and not just emulating their favorite popular star. So many people have learned just as they are, in different lands and cultures and environments. First you learn the names of the strings, then you learn a chord, then … And before long, you’re playing music!
Middle Eastern, Arabic, and European cultures played a huge part in the guitar’s history. Did you know that in the mid-1800's, Spanish musician Antonio de Torres Jurado began creating the style of guitar that would give rise to all modern guitars? Many consider him to be the grandfather of the guitar.
Wouldn’t it be fun to listen to the kind of music he was playing with your child? Exploring his music – even that of the oud -- can add rich background and context to learning the guitar. Because in actuality, it took America a long time to embrace the guitar.
So along with the tried and true tips on tuning the guitar and practicing regularly, we hope this post will peak your interest. The guitar has a rich history, one that you and your budding musician might enjoy learning about! We at Cy-Fair Music and Arts will do everything within our power to make your family’s journey into guitar lessons a success. Please be sure to talk with us if you have any questions or thoughts about your children’s music lessons.