Archive for guitar

Zooming in

Posted in teaching, thoughts on teaching with tags , , , , , on 21 January, 2021 by flaviomatani

So, what can you _not_ do in a Zoom guitar lesson?

The most important one, probably, is being able to play together. There are many occasions in which being able to do this would save many words and get the pupil to understand what you’re trying to convey or what you’re trying to get them to do or change, much more easily.

There are some possible work-arounds. One that I find myself using increasingly more is the recording of short snippets of video during the lesson, illustrating a point of technique or interpretation. People have done similar things before, I know of several guitar teachers who would make audio recordings of the entire lesson -but who is going to wade through an entire hour of guitar lesson? I have found much more effective to make a very short video about one single point or a very short bit of music, often just a few notes or changes. Something that doesn’t take a lot of time and effort for the pupil to understand and follow and incorporate in their practice.

This idea of the very short and to the point video snippet is something that I will be keeping even when we are able to go back to face-to-face lessons. I’ve found them very useful for the pupil and for myself.

playing together

Posted in teaching with tags , on 9 June, 2014 by flaviomatani

Interesting how very stimulating the playing together has been for the handful of my pupils who now meet once a month to play at the local Literary Café.  It has also revealed some gaps in some of my pupils’ understanding, technique or knowledge of certain things so it has been useful in filling those gaps. It has also improved their sight-reading and their music reading in general. I recommend ensemble playing to players of all levels, it is fun and a bonding experience as well as a nourishing one.

steps

Posted in teaching with tags , , on 2 October, 2013 by flaviomatani

In the course of teaching guitar you keep going back to the same few bits of advice -which all seem to be quite difficult to take in and make part of the way you practise or tackle new pieces. Practise slowly, practise in small bits (small enough that you can quickly analyse and then repeat many times until they become automatic).

We all want to get there but most of us don’t want to put in what (at least at first) feels like a long slug, the drudge work of developing finger dexterity, finger strength, finger control. The interesting and difficult thing is to make the acquiring of that discipline less of a chore and more something you can enjoy in itself. Some of us eventually learn to do this, many don’t. It is one of the bigger challenges for an instrumental music teacher to get your pupils to develop this, to get to like their practice.

I reckon there may be many answers to this, all with different advantages and shortcomings. I will try and elaborate on these topics later on.

The main goals, though, remain the same:

– getting the pupil to take in the information available to them. We tend to take in bits and ignore large chunks of what is in front of us.

– getting the pupil to learn to break the task into manageable chunks

– to practise slowly

– and to repeat what they have learnt so it becomes ‘automatic’ , where each of the many steps involved in the task no longer have to be explicitly stated.

position, position

Posted in teaching with tags , on 19 October, 2010 by flaviomatani

A curious thing about learning to play an instrument like the guitar is that at first you really don’t want to know about sitting position, how you hold the instrument, how you present your hands. And yet in the longer run this will make all the difference: your position can make things much more difficult than necessary. This is, however, so difficult to get to see in the beginning.. as you just want to play the pieces or songs, it seems an unnecessary encumbrance. And yet it is fundamental…

One has to strike that balance, like so many others, when teaching the guitar.