Buzzkill: Your Child Might Not Be Ready for Guitar

Many times when a parent comes to us expressing that they want their child to learn an instrument, it's fairly common for the idea of learning to play guitar to come up.

For a lot of our potential students, this is a fantastic idea. Guitar is a fantastic way to work on focus of attention, independent work skills, joint attention, visual tracking, and of course: fine motor skills.

Ah, fine motor skills. This is where we run into a problem with the guitar. Many parents want their young children (6 and under) to learn the guitar. At this young age, the fine motor skills needed to learn this instrument may have not developed yet.

Now, if this is a situation where the child is dying to learn to play guitar and loves watching guitar videos, I'll usually say "Let's go for it, we'll make it work!" If that's what really motivates them, then that's what they need to learn.

And I get it: guitar definitely has the cool factor going for it.

[caption id="attachment_2911" align="alignnone" width="213"] C'mon, who doesn't want to be this guy?[/caption]

But if the guitar decision is coming more from the parent, I usually try to suggest starting with the piano.

The piano requires far less fine motor strength, dexterity, and coordination to start playing. It's also a much more visual instrument. Perhaps most importantly, it's far less abstract than the guitar.

By that, I mean the piano is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of instrument. This key is the note C. Every time you hit it, it's a C. Doesn't matter how you hit it, how hard, when, or with whom. It's a C.

But the guitar is different. When you play this string, it's a B. But put your finger here and that same string is now a D. Put your finger here, and it changes again to E. That can be a little confusing to a young child, particularly if they learn differently from other students, as our clients do.

All this adds up to frustration.

Frustration is the enemy when it comes to learning a new instrument. Frustration leads to losing interest and quitting. It leads to not practicing and not getting any better. It leads to music becoming a chore and not something fun and exciting.

We want our new students to be instantly successful. When I work with a child learning an instrument for the first time, I want them to be able to play something, no matter how simple the very first day.

That kind of success is addictive! They want to come back for more!

So if a student is not developmentally ready for the guitar, that might not be the best choice to start on.

Have a student that wants to learn an instrument? Let's talk about where they can start and what they can learn!



Image credit: Flickr user


Super Bowl Blackout: Keeping Focus Through Interruptions

Did you watch the Super Bowl last night? It was a pretty successful event for the most part. Exciting match-up, good commercials, excellent halftime show, what more could you ask for in a Super Bowl?

However, the thing everyone will likely be talking about is the power outage in the middle of the 3rd quarter that stopped play for over 30 minutes!

You might think an extra halftime would be welcomed by players, giving them an opportunity to further rest after a physical first half.  Yet, most of the players paced the sidelines anxiously, sat down to stretch, or participated in warm-up drills. They all simply had to keep moving. Football certainly has a rhythm to it, and extended interruptions such as this throw off that rhythm and it can be hard for players to keep focused.

Similarly, many students struggle with focusing on a task for an extended period of time, and frequently find themselves distracted and disrupted by the world around them. Sitting and completing homework can feel like an impossible task.

For those special learners who struggle with these tasks, we offer our fantastic adaptive lessons service.

Learning an instrument addresses so many important goal areas, but it is especially useful for simply practicing the skill of sitting, focusing, and completing a task. Additionally, they give the student an opportunity to practice overcoming the frustration and fatigue that can often result.

Our team of music therapists are trained to not only provide quality instruction of a variety of instruments, but more importantly to help students with special learning needs overcome those difficulties and succeed.

Learning an instrument is rewarding, and we find many of our students simply can't wait to enter their lesson and start making music!

Just as long as the power doesn't go out...

Learn more about adaptive lessons here, or if you're ready to sign up, click the big purple button below!


The 3rd Annual George Center Recital

This Sunday, The George Center will be hosting our third annual recital for our students!  This is a fun event that allows some of our clients to showcase all their hard work and stand in the spot light.  There will be students playing piano, guitar, singing solos, and even a euphonium solo!

Performing in front of an audience is an important social developmental experience, whether it be through music, sports, drama, public speaking, or otherwise.  Unfortunately, students with special needs are not presented with many opportunities for performance.  This event allows students to gain confidence, overcome some anxieties, and be praised for their hours of practice.

We'll post videos and pictures soon!  We're looking forward to a fun-filled day of music!

Want to get in on our next recital?  Sign your child up for adaptive music lessons today!