Learning to play the guitar is about much more than mastering a few chord grips, memorizing some music theory concepts, or playing popular songs. Rather, I believe the guitar is a vehicle which can teach anyone learning to play it the skills he/she need to be successful in music or in life.
This belief is the very core of my teaching philosophy, and it’s the reason I created the Rock Dojo to reward children for their efforts learning to play the guitar, to help them create personal goals, and to help them develop action plans to achieve those goals.
On that account, I put together three ways learning to play the guitar can help children become more successful.
1. Goal Setting
Maxwell Maltz, the author of Psycho-Cybernetics, states, “We are engineered as goal-seeking mechanisms. We are built that way. When we have no personal goal which we are interested in and which means something to us, we are apt to go around in circles, feel lost and find life itself aimless, and purposeless.”
On the other hand, learning to play the guitar focuses the mind because of its inherent challenge. Whether a child is learning to play an open G chord for the first time or struggling to find the ‘pocket’ with his/her classmates during our after-school group guitar lessons, he/she most focus intensely on the challenge at hand.
2. Action Plans
Once a goal like mastering the G chord has been established, it’s necessary to develop a plan of action to achieve that particular goal. In this example, a plan of action might include setting aside 10-minutes each morning and night to practice playing the G-chord with a drum track and learning to play a few songs on the guitar featuring the G-chord.
Legendary guitarist and composer Steve Vai is a huge advocate of visualization. During his “How to be Successful” workshop at Guitar Center, Vai states, “Pick a song in your head that you would like to be able to play [on the guitar], something that’s within your reach. Imagine, right now, that song. Picture yourself playing. That’s the first part of the exercise in achieving it.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brian Parham is the founder of the Rock Dojo in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches hundreds of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 years-old to play, perform, and compose their own original music on the guitar in after-school group guitar lessons. He’s also the author of three guitar method books including Guitar for Kids: Rock Dojo The Complete Belt System.