Ask George

George with his Tacoma Hollow Body Jazz Guitar

Do I need to buy a book before my first lesson?

I will have all the materials you need here at the studio.

We don’t have an instrument – should I rent or buy?

Typically, for guitar it is less expensive to buy. Most rentals require a three month minimum, which is almost enough to buy a child’s acoustic guitar. You can apply the rent to a purchase, but only at that store, which limits your choices. An exception might be something like a violin. A playable violin can be bit expensive, so renting makes more sense.

My child starts lessons next week. We can borrow a guitar from his aunt – will that be suitable?

That will depend on how the guitar fits your child. It is very important to have an instrument that fits the player, so the player can comfortably reach the strings with both hands in the correct positions. This will build the best playing foundation as well as prevent muscle and tendon strain.

Here is a rough guide to help you find the right size.

Guitar - Stand the guitar on the floor with the headstock pointed towards the ceiling. The headstock should be approximately at the player’s waistline.

Violin - Extend the left arm, and place the instrument on the left collarbone; the player should be able to easily curl the fingers of the left hand around the scroll, with a small bend in the elbow.

How much should my child practice?

This varies somewhat depending on the age and patience level of the student.

It is good to encourage a very young student to play, or at least to pick up and handle the instrument, for about 10 minutes twice a day. Young children generally learn so quickly that they will progress even if they are only really practicing during their weekly lesson.

It’s been my experience that the lessons themselves usually help my students develop more patience and better learning skills over time. Also, as they begin to acquire some skills, it becomes more pleasurable to play, and as playing becomes more rewarding for them, their willingness to practice will increase.

How can I help during practice sessions? Should I sit with my child and help by correcting any errors?

The best encouragement you can give your child is to applaud their efforts and enjoy their learning process.

I recommend that parents handle practice sessions with a light hand, and refrain from correcting mistakes. There will be plenty of time during their weekly lessons for me to answer their questions and help them recognize and correct any misunderstandings. But if a question or stumbling block does come up between lessons, please feel free to call me!

I’m an adult – is it too late for me to learn an instrument?

You're never too old to learn to play a musical instrument. Over the years I have taught many adults of all ages to play.