1. My guitar doesn’t have a button for a strap at the top of the body. What can I do/recommend to students with a similar setup?
Installing strap buttons is a lot easier than you think it might be. But, if you’re not comfortable, your local music store should be able to do that in about 5 minutes… unless they’re super busy. For your classroom, it is nice to have straps on your guitars if you can afford them. Small ensemble groups can then “stroll” around and it can be more comfortable than foot stools.
2. How do you handle students that don’t want to learn to read music but, already have the ability to play?
One of the best things about the guitar is just how easy it can be to play. Often times guitar players teach each other songs and licks without standard music. One way you can combat that kid trying to skip beginning guitar is to have him/her read some material out of a method book. Tell the student that you don’t want them to be unhappy in your class and that your class will incorporate a lot of note-reading. By the same token you should give opportunities for that student to showcase what he/she already knows. If their technique is good, you could partner them with struggling students for support.
3. What does a guitar for 4th graders cost?
You can spend quite a bit of money on guitars for your classroom. We recommend that you purchase 3/4 sized classical, nylon-stringed guitars. There are several brand names who sell these specifically for the classroom. Even students in 5th grade should be able to play this size guitar. If you have the extra cash, you might want to have a 1/2 size guitar for very small students. These can be found from $80 – $120 and up. Although guitar cases cost about as much as a guitar, we recommend that you purchase them to protect your investment. In a classroom setting, guitars will potentially be used by one hundred or more students in any given week! Keeping them protected while they’re not being used will ensure many years of happy strumming!
4. How do you structure in-class “practice time” without it developing into chaos? How long is too long for in-class practice?
The “P” word can be sticky with classes like guitar. Students may or may not have their own guitar at home to practice their new skills. You’ll be surprised at how much a student can improve in 1 minute of focused practice. Keep a timer and focus student attention on exactly what line or passage they should have under their fingertips. Many schools are on block scheduling these days. 80 to 90 minutes of guitar class means you can really chunk up your class into sections where students have opportunities to learn a new skill and apply that skill with practice. Is there such a thing as too much practice? You’ll need to decide the level of mastery students need to build a solid foundation for learning more advanced skills.