How to teach kids to play the guitar
Kids guitar Lesson 4
This lesson introduces the final three of the eight chords that any beginner should learn first
The previous lessons in this series have used the chords of C A G D and Em and this lesson introduces kids to the final three chords (Am Dm and E) that any beginner should master in the early stages of playing. It is important to stress that although the material has been presented here for convenience as a set of consecutive lessons which progress smoothly through the material from one (weekly?) session to the next that "real life" is often not like that and you may spend more than three sessions to get to the point where the final three chords are introduced. Kids forget stuff and we as teachers need to look at the "Big Picture" It is our job to get them to a stage where they are confident in moving between the chords and not to follow some strict "three week plan"
It can be a good idea to pause before this lesson to make sure that your student(s) are familiar with the five chords learned up to now and can move between them without having to refer to chord diagrams etc. For a more detailed examination of the issues under discussion please take a look at our Overview of how to teach guitar to kids
and in particular the video (which still makes sense with the sound muted)
Kids Guitar Lesson 4
Step 1: Review material presented in the previous lesson/s
The first part of the lesson should be taken up with making sure a child is familiar with the material presented during the first three sessions and again you should expect to spend some time ensuring that the basic shapes and principles covered in your last session are bubbling along nicely. A quick game of "Simon Says" should do this without letting the child know that they are working hard
Step 2: Introduce the Am chord
All of the chords in this progression are "full" chord shapes and like the other full shapes covered to this point there are no difficult stretches involved so even though kids will be required to learn three new shapes they will not be expected to cover great distances on the fretboard with their left hand
Introduce the Dm chord
Another new shape but nothing too bad in the way of stretches. This is the first time that a shape will require that a child's first finger should cover the first (thinnest) string and you should not be surprised if this takes a little getting used to
Introduce the E chord
The E chord shape can be regarded as being the "Am shape with all of the fingers moved one string lower"
Ask a child to move between the chords
There are three new shapes and it is important to realise that even though two of them (Am and E) are basically the same shape but are played on different strings it may take a little time before children are able to form and move between them. Ask them to do this in their own time
Use a 1-2-3-4 count to help the child to respond to the chords in time
As with all of the other chord shapes investigated to this point it is vital to realise that the shapes themselves are just part of the story. Unless a child can move between the shapes in time to an external stimulus (other musicians or a backing track) then they are just chord shapes and there is no music being played
Encourage your student to play along with the Am, Dm and E backing track
This backing track is deliberately a little challenging in light of the fact that for the first time kids are required to change chord shapes after a single bar of music rather than as in the tracks used up to this point where they have two full bars of each chord in which to form and play each chord and then move to the next one.
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