We all know Mozart started playing piano around the age of three, but if we suspect our children aren’t musical geniuses, what’s the ideal age to start them on lessons?
Firstly, bear in mind that Mozart came from a musical family. His father was a composer and taught his older sister how to play the piano, or the 18th century equivalent, the harpsichord. All this music around young Mozart kept him intrigued. It was only natural for him to imitate his big sister by thumping away on the piano when he had the chance.
Your Music Habits
In judging when to start your child’s piano lessons, consider how often you play music in your home. How does your baby respond? By dancing, laughing and raising his arms in glee? If yes, do you or the baby’s other parent play piano or violin, actively practicing? It’s better if you do, since kids love to imitate. It’s a great idea to start your child’s piano lessons around the age of three or four if music is already a large part of your lives.
If it’s not so much, but you want to see it as such, think about taking your kids to group classes while they’re young. For children under the age of three, these usually require parents’ involvement. Often by the age of five, kids are ready to learn an instrument with the violin or piano lessons. By age seven, it’s okay to start guitar lessons.
How to Get Kids to Practice
The hardest part about getting kids to appreciate their violin or piano lessons is to get them to practice on the regular. Try rewarding them with a treat like ice cream or soda for every half hour they practice. Private piano lessons can be a good addition to lessons at school, where kids can’t always get the individual attention they might need.
When starting out with guitar lessons, it’s important to have a guitar of one’s own. While you may be reluctant to invest too much in a beautiful instrument, there are good reasons to splurge, especially if you imagine playing guitar for the rest of your life. Guitars are pieces of art which can be hung on a wall, and unlike cars, boats, and motorcycles, fine guitars appreciate in value as time passes, though you shouldn’t buy a guitar with the intention to sell.
There are lots of guitars for under $500, perfect for beginners just starting in lessons. One of the best options is the Hagstrom Swede, rated so by users on MusicRadar.com. But also at the top of the list are cheaper alternatives made by classic guitar companies such as the Epiphone Les Paul Standard, made by Gibson, and the Squier Classic ’50s Vibe Telecaster, by Fender.
Telecasters vs. Stratocasters
If you know you want to take guitar lessons for many years to come, you’d do well to examine those made by Fender. Long has the debate raged between Telecasters and Stratocasters, but what’s the real difference between these two guitars?
Both have alder bodies and maple necks and are the same size, although the Strat has a headstock a bit heavier. As far as the pickups go, the Strat has a 5-way pickup selector switch, while the Tele has a 3-way, which means that there are more available options for tones on a Strat. And because the Strat has 3 single-coil pickups and the Tele has a Broadcaster pickup at the bridge and a custom one in the neck, the overall sound is different. Telecasters can be classified as twangier, while Strats are what you think of when you think serious shredding. Ultimately it comes down to which sound you prefer when you play them at the guitar store before you buy. You may be more into getting country guitar lessons, but if you like the sound of a Strat, go with it.
No matter what you choose, as you take more guitar lessons you’ll come to love your guitar and appreciate the beautiful music it makes.
When I first started professional guitar classes, I chose a teacher who I had heard was really cool. My friend told me that he was the kind of guy who’d let you play what you wanted, and who wouldn’t get really upset if you hadn’t practiced so much during the week. And since I was just starting guitar lessons, I didn’t want a teacher to make my lessons a chore; I wanted to learn guitar for myself.
My first lesson
At my first guitar lesson, I found out my new guitar teacher was a Texan with long salt-and-pepper hair and a glazed look in his eyes. Man, could he play. Best of all, I could tell that we were going to be friends. At first I was just going through the basics, trying to read music, learning the scales and chords. But within a few weeks I was ready to play songs. He asked me what I liked to play. At that time of my life I was just getting into Bob Dylan. He asked me if I ever listened to Nashville Skyline. I had never heard of it; he said it was Bob’s first foray into country music. “You know the song ‘Lay Lady Lay’?” “Of course,” I said. “That was on Nashville Skyline.”
Guitar lessons improving my life
I went home and listened to that song and fell in love with it. The syncopation, the lyrics, everything about it epitomized the romantic notion of guitar playing that had made me want to start taking lessons in the first place. My learning of the song coincided with my falling in love with a friend, and when things wound up not working out, I had to tell my guitar teacher. “Don’t sweat it man,” he said. “How old are you?” “Twenty-one,” I responded. “Twenty-one? You’re free to live the rest of your life! Now pick up your guitar and let’s get playing.” The chords I played attenuated my sorrow, making me feel better about everything, like a songbird singing before a new dawn.
I stayed with my guitar teacher for a year, until he decided to move back to Texas and get back into playing with bands. We still keep in touch and he asks me about my playing, but I’m so busy I don’t play nearly as much as I used to. And I don’t find a different teacher because something wouldn’t feel quite right, as though I were being unfaithful to my first guitar teacher. Which just goes to show how important choosing the right guitar one for your lessons can be.
The best and hardest-to-stomach teaching you will learn from guitar lessons is that practice is the best way to get good at guitar. But while scales and chords are all well and good, we wondered if there were any quick guitar hacks to make you a better player, or at least impress your teacher during your next guitar lesson.
Here’s a video that shows some cool tricks, like tuning your guitar to an open chord, and sharpening picks on a rug.
If you feel like some of those tips were above your head, keep reading. The best thing to do to start your practice routine is to start with scales. By getting them out of the way first, you can reward yourself by playing a song after. It’s crucial to play with a beat, even when you’re picking scales. Make sure to alternate the direction of your pluck. Plucking down makes a different sound from plucking up, and if you only pluck in one direction, you will have trouble going the other way in the future.
Getting Guitar Fundamentals Right
Perhaps the most important scale to practice for your guitar lessons is the pentatonic. Once you learn that, you can isolate pieces of it to solo. Try to learn it in different keys, and move it up and down the fretboard to familiarize yourself with the different sounds you can make.
When learning songs, play the recorded version of the song you’re learnign while you strum to listen to how it’s played. You may hear certain melodies you hadn’t before. Also check to see if there are video performances on Youtube of that song. Watching how your favorite guitar player can help you learn certain tricks.
It may be tempting to speed through a new chord progression or scale while you learn it, but it’s much more effective to slow down and make sure you nail what’s giving you trouble. If you still have difficulty, ask your teacher for extra tips at your next guitar lesson.
When it comes to playing guitar solos, it helps if you know your way up and down the fretboard. But that doesn’t mean a beginner can’t learn these classic solos, through a lot of practice and training.
And even if you can’t play the entire solos, learning the structure of how they work and isolating some of the scales used can be great practice for beginners. If you really like the song, ask your guitar teacher to go over it with you in your next guitar lesson. You may be able to learn the chords, and play it on your own in a more simplified version.
The best solos of all time can be pretty subjective, but there are some that cap any list. Here are our personal favorites. Feel free to comment below if you agree or disagree!
7. Truckin’, Grateful Dead:
Jerry Garcia could shred, and this is living proof. Even if you can’t get the solo down, the opening bass line is a fun lick to learn.
6. November Rain, Guns ‘n’ Roses:
This solo immortalized Slash. It takes the song to another level.
5. Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd:
This Floyd track is classic. It certainly isn’t the most difficult to play on the list, but it’s unforgettable nonetheless.
4. Fade to Black, Metallica:
This solo is super gnarly, and pretty difficult. But if you’re dedicated enough, you can at least pick up the intro. And man, if you learn just one song to make you a bada** guitar player, use your guitar lessons for this.
3. Crossroads, Cream:
Based on the old blues song by Robert Johnson, Clapton’s solo does the original justice and then some. Definitely one of the tougher solos on this list, but overall, an amazing one to learn if you can get the hang of it.
2. Pride and Joy, Stevie Ray Vaughan:
Stevie’s tragic end cemented his legacy as one of the best guitar players of all time. This song isn’t his most difficult to play (you’ll thank me for that), but it is one of his most enduring and popular. Take a stab at it and appreciate Texas-style blues.
1. All Along The Watchtower, Jimi Hendrix
What would a list of the best solos of all time be without homage to the late, great Jimi? The best guitar player of all time, no one has ever played like him since. That said, the difficulty of trying to play like Jimi has its own rewards which will make you a better guitar player in the long run.
Check out our amazing piano and voice instructor, Kimberly Hawkey, perform with her band, The Swingaroos!
East and west coast tour with my project ‘venture bound’ , starting in June. Check out the tour dates here!
beside his home base in New York City – June 18th Cornelia Street, he will be in New Jersey, Boston, Virginia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Francisco.
See the online flyer here.
Catch Alon Nechustan touring with the band:
-Fanwood NJ June 14th,
-Jazz Museum of Harlem,NY June 21th
-Charlosville Virginia,VA, June 28th,
-An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD, June 29th
-Los Angeles,CA, July 10-12th
-San Francisco July 13th,SF
-August 10-20 Israel Tour, ISR
RELEASE DATE : JUNE 14 2014
Each new album by Alon Nechushtan offers a fresh glimpse at his diverse and complex musical personality, which seems to be able to encompass a vast, cross-genre richness, which eventually becomes his very own. The most amazing quality of his is that he always sounds as if he already played this or that specific sub-genre for years, whereas in fact a comprehensive knowledge of his output so far reveals that he is probably one of the most chameleonic Jazz musicians around. But regardless of the specific musical environment Nechushtan selects as his weapon of choice at a specific moment, he is always honest, both with himself and the listener. The quality of players he selects as his partners, the wonderful technical qualities, the incredible melodic wealth and above all the ability to communicate with his fellow musicians and his public alike are a direct result of this honesty. Nechushtan’s music is always an amalgam of influences: first and foremost Jewish music in all forms and shapes, but also the endless varieties of the Jazz Art Form, which together create the new “Jewish Jazz” phenomenon, This album,although less obviously connected with the Jewish context and emphasizing the Jazz tradition and its contemporary state of affairs, is nevertheless an integral part of his continuous musical journey, which is always fascinating and heartwarming.