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Here are some commonly asked questions. If you have your own question, don't hesitate to contact me!

Q: What age is best to start guitar, ukulele, etc?

A: In my experience, 5 years old is great for ukulele, while 6 is good for guitar. This is a general rule, and other factors can influence the decision, like how big the student is for their age, how advanced they are in their reading abilities. While I have had 4 years olds do great on ukulele, I have also had 10 year olds who have a hard time being with one person for 30 minutes, so it all depends on the individual when it comes down to it.

Q: How long should my or my child's lesson be?

A: This depends on several factors: Age, level, interest, focus, and willingness to learn. With most students, 30 minutes is plenty for me to see their week's progress, as well as go over new material. Some younger students benefit more from a 15 minutes lesson, where we focus on one idea and learn it very thoroughly. Some students will require 1-hour or more, especially if they are learning a combination of things, like guitar, ear training, and bass guitar. This can be done bi-weekly as well. So again, it comes down to the individual and how much they would like to learn, and how much they are able to practice the material.

Q: Do I need to get an acoustic or electric guitar? Is there a difference?

A: Short answer: there is no difference! They both have the same number of strings, and the notes on the fingerboard are all in the same place. Longer answer: if the student is just beginning with no prior knowledge, or your child is quite young, I would stick to acoustic guitar at first since there are fewer little things to worry about learning (like amplifiers, knobs, pickup settings, etc.). However, if you have dabbled before on guitar, and your heart says go electric, then do it! Electric guitar is so fun, and can open up new possibilities and lead to new interests.

Q: What books should I get for my child?

A: There are several book series with which I am now familiar for general guitar methodology. The FJH Young Beginner Guitar Method is my favourite series for young beginners. Alfred's Guitar Method and Essential Elements for Guitar are great for students who are a little too old for the FJH series. Hal Leonard's Guitar Method is great for young teenagers or people who have an interest in Rock 'n' Roll music (it is what I initially learned from). Beyond that, I enjoy the Berklee College of Music Guitar Method, and MI's Music Reading for the Guitar. At the end of our first lesson, I will recommend which I think will work best for you or your child.

Q: What does an online lesson on Zoom look like compared to in-person?

A: A typical in person lesson starts with reviewing last lesson's assignments, correcting mistakes, and possible reassignment. The lesson then progresses to the learning of new material, or diving deeper into old material. Finally toward the end, we summarize new or important concepts and assign what to practice. This lesson structure is basically uninterrupted online. The things that change are how we learn new material: there is more emphasis on clear explanation and listening, and the student's focus has to be more unidirectional (toward the computer screen), as we can't use our surroundings to help in the learning.

To make up for this, we often use screen sharing on Zoom to work on problems or new ideas. If something small needs to be written or drawn, I have white board set up so I can demonstrate it without interrupting the lesson's flow.

Q: Are there any downfalls to doing online lessons vs. in-person?

A: I would say the only downfall (other than poor internet connections) is that I can not play music in real time with the student during an online lesson. Because of this, I find the student's sense of rhythm can progress more slowly. To compensate, I have begun using many more copy-cat style exercises, which is also beneficial in developing the student's musical memory. I also will record short audio clips of me playing exercises for the student to practice with during the week. So with these changes, there really aren't any downsides to online lessons, and there are actually a few benefits (less travel time, less gas used, always comfortable in your own home, organized homework files online, etc.)

Q: Do I have to learn how to read music to learn the guitar?

A: Not at all! There are many different ways to learn music on the guitar using diagrams, tablature, and pictures. However, I do recommend learning to read music, even just the basics. Learning music theory is a bit like learning a new language. Once you get a grasp of it yourself, you'll find your understanding of how music works runs much deeper, and you will be able to use those ideas to form musical ideas of your own (song-writing and composition). So in short, no, but it can't hurt to try!

Q: How long should I/my child be practicing?

A: This is a good one. What is more important than how long the practice session lasts, is how focused the practice session was. I once learned that one of the top violinists in the world only practices 4 hours a day to maintain that status. This is due to a very efficient and focused time with their instrument. So 15 minutes of quality practice, is often way better than 90 minutes of aimless practice. If you are not sure what a good practice session looks like, I am happy to go over that with you in a lesson.

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