1 (edited by Guitar_Addict 17-06-13 01:24:16)

Topic: problems with a beginner guitar student - need help

I have some problems with one of my guitar students and if anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate it very much! I know the post is quite long, but I didn't know how else to write all that things in short. I'm really in need of some advice.

So here it goes... she is an adult beginner on acoustic guitar (around 30 years old). I never encountered someone like this before, and so didn't few other private guitar teachers, especially when an adult is in question.

She is very motivated to learn the guitar and wants to play well and understand it so badly, but often feels bad about herself because of her problems.

Otherwise she always had quite good grades in school and is quite intelligent in other things. She doesn't have any special needs as far as I know, she was never diagnosed with anything. She had 2 years of piano in her primary school years (it was a looong time ago, though, and she forgot most of the things by now) and her pitch recognition is quite good, rhythm sense too. She can copy me to the beat, but when she has to play it without hearing or watching me first, she is quite lost. Now she is learning acoustic guitar for about 9 months.

She understands rhythm, strumming patterns, and all the open chords very well, the trouble starts when we try to learn any form of musical notation (may it be tab or notes), anything about finding tones on the guitar, and she has lots of trouble with fingerstyle techniques because she can't read any notation, hence the trouble with remembering it. Sometimes it seems like she can't grasp a concept of tones and strings.

When I tried to teach her barre chords, she knows F and B chord, also F minor and B minor, but whenever I teach her other barre chords, she can never remember the right name of the chord. The problem is she can't remember tones on the strings. She says it looks all the same to her. We tried learning by repetition, tried games, I explained the chords and tones on few different ways, we tried playing songs with the new chord we learned, we worked on muscle memory, I also wrote all new chords down and she has a fingering chart in her theory notebook. As far as it goes, it took us nearly half a year to figure out barre chords for the first four frets (F, F#, G, G#, A#, B, C, C#). We could do it by me writing down on what dot is what tone, by fingering chart I made, and heavy repetition. And sometimes she still fails it without a fingering chart or seeing what tone is on what dot. I don't know what else to do. Otherwise she learnes open chords quickly, because she memorizes them by shape, not by tones.

Next problem are tones on the guitar. We did all those simple beginner exercises as 0,1,2, 0,1,2,3, or 0,1,2,3,4, etc. I tried to show her what the notes are first on low E string, later on A... she never made it past low E string. When she tries to find a tone by pitch, she doesn't take into account that the tones follow one another as semitones. So she finds wrong note more often than she finds the right one.

What would solve most of the problems listed here, would be if she knew how to read any form of musical notation for guitar.
I tried to teach her how to read the tablature which seemed like easier option because the finger placement is already shown there. She could not understand how to read it, I even asked some other guitar teachers how they would do it, and nobody could explain it to her so she could understand. Then I tried writing an inverted tablature and guess what, she could read it, almost sight-read! The problem is because it is an inverted, upside-down tablature where the lowest string (low E) is actually written on the line when you usually find a high E string tones. And you rarely find such tabs anywhere. So I have to manually convert everything she wants to play this way for her to be able to read it at all. I don't know how to teach her to read normally written tabs after so many attempts.

But there is the thing... when I asked her which string is the highest and which the lowest, she said that to her it would be logical if high E string would be in the place of low E string, actually if all strings would be placed in that order on the guitar. I asked her with which hand she writes and she said she was a lefty, but when in school she had to switch to right hand, because it was "not right to be lefty" and she is now like righty. I think there is a problem.
I adviced her to buy a left handed guitar and learn to read lefty tabs, or to replace the strings to different order, but she says she's used to strumming with the right hand and doesn't wanna change as she is very good with strumming chords now.

After a few failed attempts, I asked her how she best memorizes things, and she said in pictures. So actually I would have to write and color everything down for her to 'get it'. I don't really have many ideas on how to do it, as it seems she is a straight visual thinker and not so good auditory/practical learner. Does anybody have any experience with highly visual learners?
I know she does best when she copies everything I do and when I show her everything in front of her or draw a picture of the tones (we progressed pretty fast that way, but she often needs to look at pictures to remember things later, or has to see me play and copy it again and again), but I would want her to once be independent and not to need me for every single thing to show to her. I'm quite lost here.

I also asked her what her goals are and she said that she would want to be a country guitarist once or to be in a some kind of acoustic guitar band. This is a high goal, and we're stuck here with the thing called "musical theory and basic understanding of tones on strings".

I would really appreciate any help on this matter.
If you're a professional, what would you advise me to do? How to best work with her? Any experience?
If you're a beginner on the guitar, what would help you in such situation? Is there anybody that has similar problems to her? How do you learn best?

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Re: problems with a beginner guitar student - need help

i think the best way to show someone tab is to place the guitar on their lap and then compare
the fretboard with the tab diagram..yes everything is upside down

but this is tab convention how else can you explain it...arrow pointing up  is a down stroke
arrow pointing down is an up stroke yes a PITA

have you checked if shes tone deaf or not ..play a note on the git and ask her to sing
the same pitch...can she tune her guitar without a tuner ?

if she is tone deaf ( hopefully not )....................end of story

anyway ...best of luck and let us know how things progress

afterthought: if tab was invented by a 6 string pedal steel player it wouldn't be ' up stroke ' and ' down stroke ' it would be ' away ' and  ' towards '
so try  ' away ' and ' toward ' this would remove the confusion of the orientation of tab ( upside down )

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Re: problems with a beginner guitar student - need help

I would just say that different people learn at different speeds. 9 months is not all that long really.

You may find that you are very close to "the penny dropping" and everything falls together for her, then again, it may not happen for a while yet - but it sounds to me you are doing your best to keep repeating the information, in a variety of creative ways to not make it boring.

So hats off to you - you sound like a dedicated guitar teacher which is great to hear.

My advice, for what it's worth, is to just keep at it and with both yours and her dedication you will get there!

Re: problems with a beginner guitar student - need help

Hi i am a 23 year old begginer and the problem u explain is the opposite to what i have i am better learning from tab than someone showing me and as for your students problem as the above person stated lay the guitar next to the tab and show her that way

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