For the past 24 years, I have been teaching music lessons. I’ve grown, learned and discovered some things about myself as a musician, teacher and worshipper that I love to share with my students.
1) I want my students to be life-long lovers of music. That means that we spend time reading music, AND learning how to play songs by ear and improvise. Each student has a bend towards a particular style: some are great at reading music but have a harder time hearing how melodies move, and vice versa. I value working on students’ strengths and also pushing them in the area they’re weaker in.
2) I want my students to practice 5x a week, for at least 10 minutes. They will have songs from their books, as well as popular songs they are either learning the melody of or the chords for. Obviously, there are times when practice happens more than others, and I am the most forgiving when a student comes and admits that they haven’t practiced much, but the GOAL should always be to carve out time 5 days a week.
3) I believe in encouragement. I can tell when a student is nervous, unsure, or frustrated. Some common phrases that I will say are “keep going! You’re getting it!” Or “I know this is hard, but you can do hard things!” I don’t have a “perfection” requirement. I just want my students to do something a little better than they did last time.
4) Guitar is really hard for the first 3 months. But if you can stick it out and keep practicing, you’ll get it! From building hand strength to getting callouses and finger dexterity, guitar is hard! With my younger students, we start with just 3-string chords that require only one, two or 3 fingers in a simple chord pattern. Once they have those transitions down, we move on to the “big” chords.
5) I LOVE helping my voice students discover their own voice! What a lot of people don’t realize is that the singers you hear on the radio have been processed, auto-tuned and manufactured. In reality, most pop singers don’t sing like their recordings. In our lessons we talk a LOT about finding your unique voice. Not trying to sing a song like the recording. I help my students find their vocal range, and help them build strength through proper technique. Again, it’s all about being able to sing for the rest of your life and not wasting your vocal on poor technique that might sound good at the cost of damaging your vocal chords.
6) Worship music on the piano is the most easy/predictable to play, and each person brings their own style to the chord patterns and rhythms. I usually start teaching chord chart reading/understanding of patterns in the key of C. We work on all the different inversion patterns in that key first, and then move on to G and continue through the Circle of 5ths. We work on different ways to fill in the sound, improvise melodies, etc. We also contextualize for different situations: band, solo, acoustic, etc.
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