The Guitar is Interest(R)ing

December 1, 2014 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The Guitar is Interest(R)ing

My music journey started at the age of 11. It was Christmas eve and we just got back home from Church. People were exchanging gifts and under the Christmas tree was my first guitar! And, that’s how it began. I did not start because I wanted to. I was pretty musically inclined even before that as I was actively singing with a popular kids choir in town. So, my dad thought “Let him try the guitar, because it’s obviously a beautiful instrument, and it would be nice if he could play”, (he was thinking like any other parent……).

Hands down, best decision Dad took there. It was a life changing one but just that I didn’t realize it that early. Guitar has since then remained an important part of my life. School, College and now work, my ability to play the guitar always got, and still gets me through it all.

I decided to start teaching right after I started college. Times were tough and I thought I could use the extra scratch. I couldn’t really understand what was happening to me but teaching music became a very big part of my life. Something that started off as just a simple hobby turned out to be a passion, and now a career.

It’s very difficult to connect with your instrument if you are not interested in it. Great if parents can notice this early on (ideally when the child is below 15 years) and not force it on them.

The direction is clear when you go through formal training, and it is very helpful to make a steady progress. It is vital to find yourself the right place and teacher who will ascertain you, and help you to achieve greater heights in music. The structured approach through a graded curriculum from an accredited board like Trinity College London could serve as a good base.

Often students lose interest after a few weeks of guitar lessons. They either don’t find them so engaging as they initially struggle with music notion or because the student is just lazy to put in some hard work. So, it becomes very important for a teacher to keep the guitar lessons for beginners interesting enough, which is certainly a challenging task. I’ve gone through music notes, scales and stuff like any other student, and the only thought on mind at that time was “when will I be able to actually play a song or strum a few guitar chords”.

Once you’re guitar learning stabilises and you begin to play, the next question we usually ask ourselves is “how can I get better or how do I move to the next level?” …… Experts and senior guitarists will always sum their advice in just three words, “practice, practise and practise”. No doubt, practise is the key thing to become an accomplished musician. I cannot stress on this point enough. Without practice there is no perfection.

I like to share with every aspiring musician the following thoughts on how to learn guitar:

1. There has to be a strategic approach for learning anything. It is important to make a plan for the next year ahead and ensure you do it. It is not enough if you have the desire alone but you also need to put in the required effort in a disciplined fashion to make it work. The way you plan need not be conventional and similar to what may have worked well for others. You just need to be sure of what you are doing and be able to see results at the end of it.

2. It is important to develop your other music skills like sight reading, theoretical knowledge, etc. side by side as you work on improving your instrument techniques in your guitar classes. You will surely be a better guitarist when you become a better musician. This is when you understand that formal training supports each and every step of your learning in a systematic manner.

3. You should be in the company of musicians who are ahead of you. Good if you can spend time with them as and when you get an opportunity, and discuss about things that you may not have known. Ex. Techniques, soloing, chord progressions, etc.

4. It will be good to listen to music of various styles and this exposure in turn could inspire you to learn more. There are plenty of online resources available now that one can make use of.

5. You can build on things that enthuse you to motivate yourself. I like to hear others play, attend concerts, or even just listen to classics. The way you look at music will be more mature as you do this, and this will push you to do music all the more.

6. It might be interesting to do a bit of case study on your favourite guitar players to understand their learning experiences, and to benefit from the tips they may offer.

7. Try to balance your practice time efficiently between improving your strengths and dealing with your weaknesses.

8. Keep doing it till you get it. There should be no turning back once you start and you will surely make it. There will always be someone better than you, which should only motivate you to keep getting better and better at it. Just because someone is naturally talented doesn’t mean that it comes easy. It involves a lot of consistent effort. Your main investment here is time, which needs to be put to best possible use for achieving your goal.

I like to reiterate a couple of tips that my colleague, Mr. David has already given here in his post earlier:

• Practice daily at least for 30 minutes
• Review the lessons taught in your previous class before you go for the next session
• Memorize the song; you can interpret the song well if you know the Music
• Develop an ear for music; ear training exercises will be helpful in this regard
• Learn music theory
• Ensure your instrument is in proper pitch and is tuned well

A good teacher and the perfect environment are key ingredients in the whole recipe of creating the ideal guitarist or any other instrumentalist for that matter.

At the academy (AWM), they have an abundance in both. I teach music there and in all my experience being a teacher and a student I have never seen anything like it. The facilities that are being provided are simply excellent, the best.

The only thing that is left is someone who is eager to learn the instrument. Someone who is willing to put in the necessary hours of PRACTICE and I guarantee the result will blow you away.

In a time where the world is in turmoil, Music is what we need to bring back peace and Serenity!!

Jonathan Raphael
Guitar Instructor –Academy of Western Music, Chennai.