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Why guitar lessons?

Beginners

It isn’t hard to start, but it’s difficult to continue. There are many reasons for this, but the two most common are a pre-existing routine that crowds out practice time, and uncertainty about what and how to practice.
Once you know what and how to practice, guidance from someone who has been doing the same thing for much longer, and has training and experience gives you the ability to move along the path quicker. This gives you success, and the motivation to continue. Theory, technique, learning chords, songs and solos are the core of the learning process.

Intermediate/advanced

If you feel stale, need new ideas, or need to talk about what you’re working on, getting feedback from someone who understands – and has been in your position before – can help.

Organizing yourself

For each student, I construct a weekly practice plan. This takes the form of a flow chart that they can refer to during the week.
For a beginning lesson in strumming, it might look like this, depending on the student.

 

This clearly outlines what to practice (everything on the chart is discussed in-depth during the lesson), and how long to practice it each day. It’s important to see how long it will take. That way, you can figure out how to fit it into your schedule.
Breaking it into chunks implies that you don’t have to do it all at once, although it’s a good idea just to make sure it gets done.

The optimal result – independence

The goal is to get students to the stage where they can confidently teach themselves. It is not to keep them around as long as possible so that you can make more money.
At the end of every month, the student and I assess their level of interest and commitment, and discuss the best course of action. This could be ending lessons, continuing on the present course, or introducing new types of material. If they decide to leave and get stuck later, or want to learn something new, they can come back for however many  lessons they feel they need.
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Music and the Brain

There are good reasons to study music aside from being able to play.

 

Simply listening to music “involves nearly every region of the brain that we know about, and nearly every neural subsystem” (Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music, p. 86).

 

For instance, following along with music engages certain parts of the brain – the hippocampus (memory center) and the frontal lobe; tapping along with music engages others – the cerebellum’s timing circuits.

 

Performing music uses the frontal lobes for planning behaviour, as well as the motor cortex and sensory cortex. Listening to, or recalling lyrics, involves language centers in the brain.

 

And the emotions we feel in response to music involve structures deep in the primitive regions of the cerebellum and the amygdala.

 

Simply by listening to music, we strengthen our brain. By learning to play, the benefits multiply. So even if you don’t become a professional musician, music lessons have a lasting benefit that positively affects your entire life.

 

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