Why is the guitar such a popular instrument to learn?

Many great musicians are guitar players, so guitar students can draw inspiration from a rich history of excellent musicianship. What are some of the reasons that the guitar remains such a popular instrument for students of all ages?

Guitar PlayerGuitar is popular both as a solo instrument and is a fundamental part of a band. Guitar players are able to play with other musicians in a group setting and the guitar is also enjoyable to play and hear on its own. Students can play the melody of a guitar riff or solo, as well as the harmonies of any song. Depending on the interests of the individual, guitar students can work on playing and singing at the same time.

The guitar is a versatile instrument: the guitar is portable and almost any style of music can be learned and played on the guitar. Guitar students can explore different types of songs and genres in order to find the music that best inspires them.

For information about guitar lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call  (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

Choosing between Acoustic and Electric Guitar

Choosing between an acoustic and electric guitar for lessons often depends on the genre of music that a student wants to play.  In general, acoustic guitar is great for classical, folk, country, and rock.  Electric guitar is a great choice for learning pop, metal, and classic-rock guitar solos;  however,  any style of music can be learned on both the acoustic and electric guitar.

Electric and acoustic guitars isolated on white

It’s important to keep in mind that if you choose the electric guitar, you will also need to purchase an amplifier to have for practice at home.  By playing through an amplifier, you will be able to hear the guitar, control the volume and also take advantage of the various effects and sounds that an electric guitar can produce.

An acoustic guitar is a guitar that does not require the use of an amplifier.  It can be played anywhere and at any time producing a full guitar sound.  The strings for this type of guitar can vary depending on the style of music and sound that you want to get.  You can use either nylon or wire strings on an acoustic guitar

For young beginners, we recommend using a guitar that has nylon strings because they are easier to push down and play for smaller hands.  Young students also have the option of starting with a smaller size guitar that will better fit their hand and fingers.  Both electric and acoustic guitars come in a half size and ¾ size version.

The chords and strings on both guitars are exactly the same, so you are always able to play both types of guitars.  The only difference may be how you play the guitar.  The electric guitar is often played with a pick.  Acoustic guitars with nylon strings are played using your fingers, by plucking or strumming.  Acoustic guitars with steel strings can be played with a pick or by using your fingers.

For information about guitar lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call  (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

Why is it important for music students to practice scales?

For many beginning students, practicing scales may seem like the least interesting part of their practice routine.  However, as professional musicians of all genres and instruments know, a proficiency in the relevant scales can carry your musicianship to the advanced level.

Music is based on a scale, which is a set of notes in a predetermined order.  The scale that music is based on varies depending on the genre, but the scale will determine the set of notes and patterns to be played in the song.  The scale can be used to compose a melody, to improvise a solo, and to accompany other musicians.

Practicing scale patterns on instruments helps students gain the muscle memory necessary for each scale.  Gaining this proficiency with scales can take a number of years, depending on the instrument.  The reward for doing so is well worth the effort: a student who becomes familiar with different scales will have an easier time improvising music in any desired genre of music like jazz, rock, pop, and even classical.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.


The Keys to Practicing: Part II

PianoThe quality and consistency of practicing is more important than the length of time practicing. For beginners, just a few minutes a day is all that is needed. The key is having a practice routine that you and your child stick to over the long term.  Below are a few tips for effective quality practicing:

  1. Repetition is important in learning any skill, but it can be boring.  An easy fix is to have fun and creative games for practicing your songs and exercises at home.
  2. Start small – Music is better learned in smaller sections rather than playing the whole song over and over.  Identify the most challenging parts and play through them until you are comfortable with them.
  3. Most children don’t like playing the difficult parts and often end up skipping over them.  You can help by asking them to stop and find the tricky part.  You can even guide them to find a way to fix it.
  4. Sometimes learning a song will be difficult and it takes time.  Praise and encourage your child daily for their efforts.  Allow them to take a break or play another song if it is too frustrating.
  5. Include time for your child to play songs that they know well and enjoy.  Improvisation and composition of new songs can also be included.  Listening to music that your child enjoys, looking things up on the computer, or watching a music DVD of any genre all count towards your child’s at-home learning.

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.

The Keys to Practicing: Part I

There is so much that can be said about practicing a musical instrument.  Practice at home is the key to turning weekly music lessons into a lasting ability to play an instrument. The role of the parent is especially important with young beginners.

For children ages 4-6, the music teacher will need your help to guide your child in practicing at home.  Make sure that you understand everything that is taught during the lesson, what your teacher expects to be done at home, and how you can be involved.  Essentially, you will be learning music alongside your child.

For beginners age 7+, you may not need to be as involved in every part of practicing.  We still recommend that you set a routine for practicing, ask your child what they are learning, and listen to and praise what they do.  After 1-2 years of music instruction, your child will be more able and willing to practice on their own.

We recommend this guide to effective practicing.  It provides many types of fun and creative practice tips and games that you can try at home: http://www.halleonard.com/product/viewproduct.do?itemid=296683&

For information about music lessons at the Altadena Academy of Music, please call    (626) 296-0799 or use our email contact form.