Thursday, July 12, 2007

The 1st Guitar Lesson

Today I had the first of the guitar lessons I won in the silent auction. It went pretty well. Our summer seminarian knows quite a bit about guitar and music in general. It was fun having someone to play with too.

We approached the lesson logically because there are only 5. What did I want to do with my guitar? Where did I feel weak in my playing? Did I have anything specific I wanted to learn? All good questions! And in answering them we set some goals.

What I want to do with my guitar is use it for personal enjoyment, but also as a teaching aid in my classroom. It's my hope that I can find songs that will teach the kids something and keep them entertained and focused too.

Where I feel I'm weak is in my hand memory. You learn the neck and strings of a guitar the same way you learn to step at a time and with lots of practice. With good hand memory you can focus on one area of your playing and your hand memory will take care of the rest. Right now when I play I tend to focus either on the strings I'm plucking or the neck where I'm fretting. Not having hand memory means that I put my fingers wrong on the neck or pluck the wrong string depending on what I'm NOT paying attention to at that moment. Neither sounds good. So, I see lots of practice in my future.

Do I have anything I want to learn how to do? Well, one thing we discussed was knowing how to put together the cords of a song so that you could play it in any key. We also touched on the topic of making the song recognizable. I'm sure we've all heard guitarists play chords and strum industrially but failed to recognize the melody in the song they were playing even though we knew the song when told what it was. That kind of playing won't work in a classroom and it doesn't sound good to my mind either. Since he said there is a trick to doing that I hope we will spend time covering it so that I can play songs my future students will recognize.

All that being said and done, we got to work on hand memory. He taught/retaught me some scales and told me to practice some of them in a certain order for 10 minutes when I start as a warm up. This will build memory and flexibility that I may have lost. He also taught me about the major chords in a key and which ones were used to play most songs out of them. So I have 4 keys and by next week I should know the chords in each of them and most especially the 1st, 4th, and 5th as those are the primary chords that lots of songs use for a particular key. This kind of knowledge will also help me change keys should I find the one the song is written in unsuitable for my voice or just too darn hard to play.

So, I have some practicing ahead. We didn't use picks although I brought one. He had a capo that is quick to use. Mine isn't, so I might want to buy one before the lessons are done; especially if we are going to work on key changes, which usually mean capo use. When I got home, I noticed that I had left a pick at home on the carpet. Truth be told I'd forgotten I had this one. It's a very tiny pick and fits nicely between my thumb and first two fingers so it's easy to control. I may practice with it a bit because I have already noticed that using one means the sound is bigger and thus a group of children might be able to hear that better than if I just used my fingers. And there you have it. The first lesson was very enjoyable and I look forward to the rest of them.

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