Saturday, October 26, 2013

How do you teach a young child to play guitar?

Check out this 5 year old boy

One person asked how do you teach a young child to play like this and here is my answer.

This boy is outstanding but its obviously the result of daily practice and parental support. I have taught many young children guitar using the g4guitarmethod  including my own daughter who is now 4yo has been learning since 3yo. The secret is to sit with them everyday learning just a few notes each time. Young children are very fast learners. In fact they learn much faster than adults. Its only their ability to concentrate, coordination and muscle development that hold them back. Start early and plant the seeds.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Your mental state affects your ability to learn guitar

Learning guitar is as much about mental training as it is physical. Scientists have known for some time that our physical and mental health are linked. In the 1960's a Dr Charles Garfield (computer analyst) joined the infamous Apollo moon project and found himself surrounded by people who were leaders in their respective fields. He notice that many of his colleagues shared similar characteristics. Garfield then decided to investigate this further by studying high achievers in sports, business, science and the arts.

Peak PerformanceIn 1984 he wrote a book called 'Peak Performance' he noted six capacities or aptitudes of high achievers:

  • Missions that motivate (Why are you learning guitar? What is your mission? Do you have a clear goal?)
  • Results in real time (Set small achievable milestones. A checklist is ideal)
  • Self-management through self-mastery (Practice each day at the same time and record your practice times)
  • Team building and team playing (Try and find a partner to learn with. Its never too early to jam)
  • Course correction (If you are not getting results try something different but don't quit too early and seek advice from a teacher)
  • Change management. (Its okay to have different teachers or at least try a different teachers from time to time just to compare. Each teacher offers a fresh perspective).
The Real Reason People Quit Guitar

The fact is our mental state can make or break us. I have for many years stated that the single biggest reason people give up guitar is not for the many reasons they claim. Students will often say "I don't have time" or "I can't afford lessons" or my favourite "I just don't have the talent". The real reason is almost always CONFIDENCE which is all about one's mental state. I say this because in my more than 30 years of playing guitar and 20 years of teaching I have seen almost every scenario possible. I have seen students with enormous potential give up because they say they just don't have the talent. I have also seen students who are often slow in the early stages (where even I have questioned their ongoing commitment) stick it out and become amazing guitar players. The difference is confidence. Its confidence that keeps them going and its persistence and a determination to succeed that ultimately brings about success.

Confidence can make all the difference

Confidence is a mental state and is often the difference between success and failure yet very few people build it in to their guitar learning program. If you are not working on your mental preparation you are either one of the lucky few who are naturally confident or you are destined to give up or at the very least make little to no improvement. In my early years of teaching I noticed some teachers had high student retention rates where others had high dropout rates. The difference as I came to learn was confidence. Not confidence in the student but confidence in the teacher. A confident teacher knows that every student has the capacity to succeed and this in turns makes a student feel confident in achieving their goal. Tip: Find a confident teacher. Even an over confident teacher is better than a self-doubting teacher.

Hope that helps.

You might also like the following blog post; 

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Memorise the guitar fretboard

Memorizing the notes on the guitar fretboard will give you a big advantage. Once you have the notes memorised you will spend less time looking for notes and more time playing. The trick to memorising the guitar neck is to do it one note at a time. So here are the steps.

Step 1. Learn the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale consists of 12 notes. *A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#. To better understand the chromatic scale I recommend you check out the G4 Guitar Theory book. To receive a free copy subscribe via our website .

Step 2. Find all the A notes on each string and memorise their positions. Practice this for a week. 

Step 3. In the next week find all the B notes and practice everyday for a week. 3rd week find all the C notes and so on.

The idea is to rotate around the notes spending a week on each until you can find any note instantly then use the chromatic scale to locate the sharps and flats.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to avoid quitting guitar by focusing on the process

Put the process before the goal

The above concept is one that many of us find difficult but is a critical factor in learning guitar. The percentage of students of guitar  who actually reach their goals compared to the number who actually  take up guitar would have to be one of lowest compared with other instruments and perhaps most pursuits. My educated guess in around 5% of guitar students ever achieve their goals. Compare that to mountain climbers,  joggers and probably even dieters you can see it's not a great result.

Understanding the process.

While there is no one simple answer as to why so many people give up guitar there are definitely some worthwhile answers to consider. One such answer that is worth discussing comes via Ellen J Langer (Harvard psychology professor and author of the book 'Mindfulness'). Langer points out that when we focus children on goals (E.g. past a test, recite your alphabet etc) we are missing a very important element. The process. Often when we look at someone who is good at anything we are blind to the process that got them to where they are today. When children see another person pick up a guitar and skillfully execute a difficult song and don't understand the process that got that person to that level of skill they can feel inferior which can lead them to stop trying and give up.


The sad reality is this childhood conditioning can be pervasive affecting many other areas of a child's learning. But worst of all such conditioning usually carries over into adulthood. As adults the condition  is so automatic that we do not even notice it. This is where we are in a state of mindlessness. I have seen it many times. Adults enroll for guitar lessons. Pay for their first 5 lessons and by the 4th lesson their automatic conditioning has kicked in and is giving them 101 reasons why they can't achieve success on guitar. "I am simply not good enough", "I don't have the time", "I can't afford the lessons", "there were no talented musicians in my family so I must have no talent" or my favorite "I am too old". Funnily enough at 14yo I thought I was too old.

Focusing on the process.

So the trick is to avoid obsessing about the goal and focus on the process. Goals are important of course but are greatly misunderstood. When pilots are flying planes they know the destination but they are focused on flying the plane in that moment. If they didn't they may easily neglect something important and next thing you know the plane is in a downward spiral. I use this analogy because it describes what happens to most people who take up guitar. They are so busy focusing on the goal that they neglect what is in front of them. Instead of trying to play your favorite yet inappropriate (too difficult) song focus on learning a basic chord, scale or even just how to count in time. When you focus on the process or better still get lost in the process you suddenly wake up one day and find yourself at the destination (goal).

Hope that helps.

David Hart - Program Director

You might also like the following blog post; 

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Monday, October 14, 2013

"How long does it take to learn guitar?"

While there is no exact answer to this this question the best answer I can offer you is 2 years if you practice 30 minutes a day based on average expectations but there are ways to do it in less time. The term 'deliberate practice' refers to practicing guitar in such a way that your practice is meaningful and more focused. Its very easy to randomly practice different songs or exercises without really having a clear purpose or direction. A good example would be a scale. Your guitar teacher might give a scale to practice but do you really understand why you are practicing the scale? It may even be possible that the scale is a waste of time based on your interests. For example if you want to be a pure blues guitarists practicing a melodic minor scale is probably not the best use of your time.

Keeping you focused on the 20% that matters

The idea behind G4 Guitar is to halve the time it takes to learn guitar (1 year or less) through efficient practice methods. The Pareto principle (often called the 80/20 rule) suggests that 80% of results come from 20% of your efforts. G4 is all about focusing on the 20% that matters the most. The G4 Guitar Method works especially well for young children even as young as 4 years old. So if you or your child have even the slightest interest in guitar I recommend checking out the G4 Guitar Method especially if you are a beginner.

Free 5 week  Beginner Guitar Course
Please follow the link to subscribe to our free online course. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chicago’s Rock for Kids program helping underserved children

I discovered these guys online and was immediately impressed. Chicago’s Rock for Kids started out with a simple mission and that was to provide kids in underserved schools a free music education. Music I believe is every child's right in the same way language is a right. An education in music gives every child a chance to explore what could almost be considered a basic human need. Think about it. Every culture in the world has music. Music has been with us for thousands of years and passing it down to our children is essential so when children miss out on a music education it truly is a tragedy.

Chicago’s Rock for Kids began in 1988 with just a handful of student and today teaches over 5000 students across the city. Its worth noting that 86% of children in Chicago's public schools are classified as below the poverty line so they certainly have a lot more children who need their help.

To raise money Rock for Kids runs raffles. A rare John Lennon 70th Anniversary J-160E Vintage Sunburst guitar will be raffled off at their 25th Annual Rock and Roll Benefit Auction  on the 9th of November at the Park West. The guitar is one of only 500 in the world, is worth close to $4,000 and was donated by The Chicago Music Exchange. If you want a chance this collectors item  raffle tickets cost $25 and can be purchased now by calling 312-255-9454.

For more information on Rock for Kids visit

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Friday, October 4, 2013


One day for one of many possible reasons you decide to learn guitar. You say to yourself "How hard can it be? After all every second person and there dog seems to be able to play something on guitar." You buy yourself a guitar, a guitar book and maybe even some lessons with a guitar teacher. The salesperson in the guitar shop reassures you that learning guitar is fun and you will love it. The book you bought has a title like "Easy Guitar for Complete Idiots" and the cover assures you that within a few weeks you will be playing at least a few of your favourite songs. Finally the teacher you enrol with confirms that guitar is not hard as long as you put a few minutes of practice in each day and of course hand over a few hundred dollars to the teacher and you will be playing like Jimi Hendrix (behind your head) in no time.

Wasting your time perhaps?

A few months later you realise its all a scam. You can't play a single song and even the simplest riff (E.g. Smoke on the water) still only sounds half right. Your fingers are sore, you are frustrated and have come to the decision that you have no talent for guitar and have been wasting your time and money. It's time to quit while you are ahead. You are a little disappointed but life is too short to waste on regrets right? Its time to move on and put it down to experience.

You have been lied to and I am here to talk you out of giving up. We have estimated that 90% or more of people give up guitar in the first year and most feel exactly the same as you. The good news is those who get past the first year are unlikely to give up and there is a very good reason. The idea that guitar is easy is an urban myth. Sure its easy to play a few basic chords or riffs but the guitar is NOT EASY! Let me say it again . GUITAR IS NOT EASY.

Guitar is like learning to write
It takes at least 1 year of daily practice to get the fundamentals in place. Guitar playing is a complexed motor skill just like learning to write? Would you expect a child (who by the way learns faster than we do) to learn to write in a few weeks or even months? Of course not. We know that it takes a few years yet we put these unrealistic expectations on to ourselves. 

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