Middle School Guitar class
November 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm #32910
So I’m in a new district and have moved from high school to (mainly) elementary school band, except at one of the schools where I also have 7th and 8th graders – who don’t choose to be in band, but have it anyway. Well, band instruments would be a disaster with kids who don’t want to play in the first place, so I proposed doing a guitar class with them. The kids are excited, admin is excited, and they’re buying me a class set of guitars. I’ve taught high school guitar before, and lots of middle school band, but never guitar to middle school students. Can someone give me an idea of what I can expect form the middle school kids? I know from experience there is a difference between learning band as a beginner in middle school and high school, so I’m sure there is a difference for guitar too.
For some background, my high school class met every day for around an hour. The middle school class I have now (7th and 8th grade mixed) will meet four days a week for 45 minutes. With the high school, we were able to learn many chord progressions, all the strings, and reading tablature, traditional notation, and chord charts within the year. How much do you think my middle school kids can handle in a year?
Also, I am purchasing 3/4 size classical guitars…good plan?
Thanks for any advice!
ChristianNovember 4, 2013 at 9:44 am #32911
All good. I think you have a great background and you can expect your middle school kids to do the same work as your former HS kids.November 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm #32973
Thanks Glen…it’s all thanks to you and that awesome guitar teaching workshop I took with you in San Diego a few years ago. It gave me a great foundation to build on, considering I had no guitar experience before that.November 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm #32975
I second what Glen said. The middle school kids should be able to do the same work as the HS kids could. They may progress a bit slower than the HS kids but I would chalk that up to missing out on a day of instruction rather than the age of the student. Your choice of 3/4th guitars should be fine but I would get 2 or 3 full size guitars for those 8th graders that could handle them.
Let us know how it goes!November 8, 2013 at 9:59 am #33021
I teach class guitar with 6th graders. I do have some kids that 3/4 size is too small for them. I wish I would have bought at least two full size guitars!November 14, 2013 at 12:07 pm #33243
@ Mr.T. Looks like Teaching Guitar Workshops will be coming back to the San Diego area. Spread the word. http://www.guitaredunet.orgNovember 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm #33249
Congratulations Mr. T! I have always loved teaching middle school guitar class, the kids can be so enthusiastic and ready to try new things. They are also so much easier to teach in regards to basic technique. I would be sure to give them some good scale exercises to strengthen them and extend their reach with the left hand….I have a lot of them, let me know if you would want a copy of my scale regimen. In fact, I find that few kids in the sixth grade and beyond need small guitars. Careful attention to left hand position and technique generally gives the needed extension to comfortably reach a full size classical neck in the open position. I agree with Glen and Chris that you can expect the middle schoolers to cover much of the same material. You may even find that they will be more eager to perform, and take to note reading easier than the high school students often do. I am anxious to hear about the progress of your class!
Best of luck!
John TruittDecember 2, 2013 at 11:33 am #33479
I started a guitar program in my school two years ago. It was intended for high school, but the schedule wouldn’t allow it. I just added it to my fifth, sixth and seventh grade general music classes. For the fifth grade I chose Hal Leonard publishing, Guitar for Kids. For grades six, seven and any high school students who wonder in I use some of the lessons in the Guitar for Kids, but mostly use Essential Elements.
I find that children are larger that what I think. I have 10 3/4 classical guitars, 1 3/4 acoustic guitar that I got with a workshop that I string with steel strings, and 10 full size acoustic that put nylon strings on. Currently my sixth grade class uses all of the full sized and only four of the 3/4. I have one class with five left handed children in it, two of which play left handed so a few of my guitars are strung lefty for them.
Fifth grade meets weekly and it’s a slow process. I don’t spend the entire year on guitar. Sixth grade meets daily for half of the year, and I spend about a quarter of the year on guitar. They move somewhat faster than fifth grade. Seventh grade has music for a quarter of the year and I spend about 3 weeks on guitar. They progressed twice as fast as the sixth graders, and this was their first year on guitar. High school students who come on their own with no experience move at lightening speed compared to my seventh grade students. I find the difference is in the time spent on their own on guitar. High school students don’t need so much monitoring, but middle school students seem to need me to hold their hands for nearly every second that have the instruments. They aren’t great at individual practice, but do work fairly well in small groups.December 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm #33484
Sounds as if you took the bull by the horns and got it going in your school! Bravo! Your observation about kids progressing faster because they have their own guitars is very true. Is there a way that your youngsters could check out an instrument for weekend practice? I know that this can be difficult, but it may make the difference for the 5th graders who have such a short time in class on the instruments. How big are your classes? that can be pretty hard for the young ones, too. Is there a chance to have an after school club or lunch time meeting to make up the time for the fifth graders? I know that can be a pain, but I have found that when the lights go on for that age group it’s worth all the time spent to get them there. Bless you for your hard work, and keep us informed about your progress!
thanks so much for joining the thread!
John TruittSeptember 14, 2017 at 5:06 am #121162
Hello John Truitt,
Do you still have your scale regimens available, and would you be kind as to send me a copy of them? I am teaching 7th and 8th grade guitar classes for the first time this year. I have come up with several songs for them to learn, and am prepared to teach them strumming techniques and how to read chord progressions. But I feel less prepared on how to teach them scales (perhaps because I need the practice too). I only get to see them twice a week, but for the full year. I know it’s important to cover all the techniques of how to learn an instrument, even for those who are they’re just because it’s a requirement.
I realize this thread hasn’t been updated in nearly 4 years. Hope this reaches you. And thank you.
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