by Jim Yancey

The question I have first is: How often do you see the kids? If you are only seeing them 1x per week….IGNORE the tuning and YOU do it. The kids have got to create and enjoy music. Tuning guitar is no fun…for anyone! If you see them everyday I would hold off on tuning for several weeks. As said—tuning is no fun. You have got to get the kids to buying in to wanting to tune this instrument. Time and enjoyment will get you there. At the high school level I teach tuning during week 7 (and I see them everyday for 55 min. per day!) I would only use electronic tuners (e.g. Korg, Fishman, Roland).

In my class, the hardest thing is teaching tuning. Tuner or not, students must listen. How do you teach pitch perception?

I could not agree more that students need to listen. However, a beginning student does not hear pitch like you and I do. I recall myself having a very difficult time the first time I was taugh 5th position tuning in college….I simply did not get it very well. That being said, I strongly advise to not worry about pitch perception in your first year of guitar instruction. I do cover this in year two and at that point the kids are really starting to get it and can “hear” it. You can do so many other things that help with pitch perception: Have them figure out chord progressions to songs they know (or you decide to teach); Have them figure out melodies that they know and be able to play them. This is pitch perception as well….just not tuning per se!

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