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#33465 - 09/02/04 12:48 PM Studying a Second Instrument
Laurie Offline
New Member

Registered: 09/02/04
Posts: 1
My oldest son recently turned 12 and has been studying piano for four years. He loves it, usually does his practicing, and has performed well in the annual recitals. I am so proud of him.

He has been asking (begging, actually) if he could study the guitar in addition to his piano. He seems so passionate about this, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea. I don't want him spreading himself too thin.

Should I go ahead and get him a guitar and set up some lessons, while keeping him enrolled in piano, or would it be better to make him decide to choose one or the other?

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#33466 - 09/05/04 07:44 AM Re: Studying a Second Instrument
Lilla Moderator Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
Dear Laurie,

I commend you for giving so much thought and consideration to the addition of further musical instruction for your son.

The world is filled with pianists who are multi-instrumentalists. I see no problem with adding guitar lessons while also studying piano. Knowing the ins and outs of various instruments can give the pianist a tremendous advantage while accompanying or engaging in ensembles. Besides the fact that it's just plain fun for a musically talented student to be able to play different instruments.

I appreciate the fact that your son enjoys his piano study. This love for piano is what all of us teachers are hoping to instill. I would go ahead and enroll him in guitar lessons in addition to piano, but please consider the following:

He will need to schedule in his practice time for both instruments. There are two primary considerations to achieving the best results from practicing.

#1: A Well-Developed Routine
#2: Effective Practicing

What do I mean by these? A well-developed routine means that practice (or some like to call it playing) becomes a part of everyday life. It fits into a niche where it becomes automatic. The time and location can change from day to day depending on events or seasons. It doesn't need to be all at once - it can be spread throughout the day.

One example could be that your son takes a few minutes when arriving home from school each day to play through several pieces of completed repertoire. After dinner, he works on a new assignment or practices a problem spot. What we are looking for is a recognizable improvement each day. In other words, we look for Effective Practice. He can have a mini-goal each time he sits down, and work to make progress on that goal. The goal could be to keep memory secure in a polished piece, or to learn a new scale, or to fix Measure #4 by the next lesson. By engaging in Effective Practice, we can fit multiple instruments and multiple lessons into an already busy life.

Playing and practice for a student who loves to play is a treat, and he should have no problem finding time.

A few words about guitar. I am not a guitar teacher, but I live in a household where husband and sons all play guitar and from time to time have performed on stage in various groups. Please purchase or rent a good quality acoustic guitar for your son. Even though today's teenagers long to play electric guitar, the basics are learned on acoustic. Take a look at any rock star today. When he's home, or riding the tour bus, he's picking at a favorite, treasured acoustic guitar.

Your son should learn scales, chord progressions, the knowledge as to how those chords are created, and the related theory. Transposition becomes critical for the guitar player. Pick up almost any piece of pop music specified for piano. If it is played onstage with guitar, it will almost certainly be written in a different key for piano. This means that your son will need to transpose it to the correct key if he wants to play along with band members or with the CD. Many of today's guitar teachers are teaching bits and parts of songs. Every guitar student can play the introduction or chorus to a dozen songs. And that's it. They can go no further. Be sure you look for a good quality guitar teacher who will teach the basics.

Good luck and let us know how it works out. I am excited for your son.

Lilla Carlisle

[ 12-09-2004: Message edited by: Lilla ]

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