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The importance of listening to music.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 by Benn Hammon | Uncategorized

The importance of listening to music.

Learning to play an instrument can be one of the best decisions a child can make. Parents often ask me for advice on how to get the most out of music lessons. If you’re working a busy job and your kids have loads of homework then it can be hard to find time to sit down and help them with their practice. There’s so many distractions for kids now as well. I’m not even 30 yet and I feel really old seeing children engrossed in smartphones, tablets etc. When I first picked up a guitar, CD players were the hight of technology. Kids still do get excited by the idea of starting a band and playing gigs or making youtube videos, but many kids freely admit that they struggle to motivate themselves to practice consistently. This usually results in parents feeling like they have to nag the kids to practice. Like any good teacher, I think a bit of gentle nagging can often be a good thing, but how great would it be if your child started voluntarily putting down their electronic gadgets and picked up their guitar to practice?

Here’s the first step to take towards making that happen. It might seem simple but it’s something that is often overlooked by parents, students and teachers.

Find out which music they love the most. One of the first questions I ask a new student, weather they're 5 years old or 80 years old (yes I have taught an 80 year old before!) is ask them what their favourite music is.

Which student do you think will learn faster, the student who says “I don’t know” or the the student who starts listing all their favourite songs, favourite musicians, favourite bands, favourite albums and favourite genres?

Neither of my parents are musicians but I certainly grew up listening to music. One of my earliest memories is dancing round the living room with my brother and my sisters, listening to my Dad’s cassettes. After a few months of this we all began to develop different tastes in music and we would argue a bit about what song to put on next.

Of course I don’t want to cause any extra sibling arguments in your home, but for a child to be motivated to practice an instrument, it is essential that they start to discover which music they are truly passionate about. Once they’ve found the songs they like they’ll want to listen to them again and again. This will help so much with their sense of rhythm and pitch and at the same time they will start to build up a picture in their head of the kind of musician they want to be. That’s when they start to realize that a musical instrument has much more to offer them than their electronic gadgets.

In the next blog I’ll be explaining a few ways to help your kids discover music and a few tricks to motivate them to practice but here’s a good place to start.

Try asking them to name their 10 favorite songs. If they can’t then don’t worry, their favorite ones are out there somewhere and we just need to find them. Start by introducing them to your favorite songs or seeing if you can find their favourite radio station. If you find one or two songs they like then try using youtube and spotfly to suggest more.

If they already can name 10 songs then try finding different versions of those songs on youtube. For most songs it’s easy to find a video of someone playing a simplified version on a guitar or keyboard in their bedroom.

Start with that and let me know how it goes.

Preparing for a graded exam

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 by Benn Hammon | Uncategorized

Preparing for a Graded Exam

Here are a few tips for anyone who is preparing for a graded exam.

  1. Make sure you have read through the whole book so you know what you’re up against. As well as performing the songs, there are lots of technique exercises and listening tests that might catch you out if you are not properly prepared.

  1. Make sure you are listening to the songs on a regular basis. You will learn much faster if you do this. Listen to the graded versions and listen to the original versions so you really understand what the song is supposed to sound like. I also recommend listening to similar songs to the ones you are learning particularly songs by the same guitarists.  

  1. Have a practice schedule. This could be anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours a day depending on what your goals are. Make sure you include a bit of everything in your

  1. Know why you’re practicing. If your only goal is to get a certificate with your name on it then it’s highly unlikely that you’ll learn the exam material properly. The students who get the highest grades are constantly looking forward to picking up their guitars weather they have an exam coming up or not. This is because they have a clear picture in their head of how they want to sound when they are playing their guitar.