3 Ways to Create a Guitar Culture
There are few things that have as strong of an impact on culture than music. Many students use music as a symbol of their personality. Tapping into this social element has the potential to affect local school culture, too! Here are three ways you can create a guitar culture at your school.
1) Bring your students into the process.
You do not have to control everything. Let your students have input with regard to music selection. Who knows, maybe you will discover something in the process. By giving your students a voice, they become stakeholders in the program and develop a loyalty to the guitar class.
Here’s a bonus: You may find that your students pay more attention to your lessons when they know that you will reciprocate! You want your class to be the kind of place that students look forward to coming, and a place they belong.
2) Look for gigs!
Formal concerts are fantastic, but these are more frequently attended by friends and family members of the performers – not the general student-body. Do not exist in a vacuum! See if you can hold strategic performances in a hallway, invite other classes to join you on special days, and take advantage of social media. Videos of students in action- both in large groups and individually- can be seen by hundreds or even thousands if the content is compelling. This is also a great way to catalog your class’s repertoire. And, leave the door open so that passersby can hear your great music.
3) Think like a marketer!
Try branding your guitar class. Start by having your students come up with a name for the class. Then let them enjoy the democratic process and vote on it. Next, develop cool t-shirts for your groups that they can wear not only for concerts, but any day. How about getting the school logo printed on some picks? Use wristbands with your program’s name on them in different colors. Get inventive with this one: maybe you can have the wristbands correspond to the martial arts belt colors. Reward students when they “meet the next level” – black belt in guitar?!?! They will be proud of their accomplishments and publicize your program with everyone they meet.
Music has the power to drive culture, and guitar programs are exceptionally well suited to harness the energy. Take advantage of it!
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Robert Sulkow, Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association Inc.
About the author:
Dr. Rob Pethel is a musician, educator, and creator of the Blue Guitar curriculum (www.blueguitar.us). He began his formal music studies at Georgia State University (GSU), earning a B.Mus. with a concentration in classical guitar under John Sutherland in 2002. Rob received a M.Ed. from Auburn University in 2010, with research focusing on guitar pedagogy, ethnomusicology, and public education. In 2015 he successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation at GSU, which investigated the field of guitar education.
Rob is involved with guitar education on many levels. In 2008, he initiated a classroom guitar program at Sutton Middle School of the Atlanta Public Schools where he continues to teach. Rob has also taught undergraduate courses at GSU in guitar and general music. Though entrenched in the study of music and music education, Rob maintains a personal passion for music performance. He plays with various groups in a range of styles including bluegrass, latin, rock, and classical.
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