Teaching a kid to play guitar presents a different challenge for any guitar teacher. Often times, a guitar teacher will have to work out some sort of a method to suits their young student. A good guitar method book specially design for kids will certainly be a great help in this situation, and one book in particular is “Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course”, so let’s see what this book has to offer.
The 140 pages book is intended for kids as young as five years old and has colourful pages that can certainly drew a kid’s attention. After a few pages of the basics such as; “Guitar Anatomy”, “Holding The Guitar” and introduction to “Basic Musical Symbols”, students are presented with an “Activity” page where they’ll be ask to draw musical symbols learned before as well as the fundamental of counting the “Beats”. Unlike most traditional guitar method books that I use to see, the book doesn’t start with “Notes Reading” lesson but instead with a “Strumming” lesson. An interesting approach by writers of the book is the introduction of three colourful characters; a dog, a cat and a friendly alligator that are always around to give tips to student on each lesson.
Reading music notation doesn’t start until page 37 of the book, and by then, students had already learned four chords in the simple position and had practice strumming them in songs given. Page 37 onwards is back to traditional approach of learning to read notes on every string starting from the 1st. Activity pages continues to appears in between lessons and the colourful characters are always there to help. Students will experience combining single notes and strumming chord in page 43 and this will continue with every new notes learned.
A “Four String” version of the chords learned before are introduced in page 79 and this later follows with the introduction of “Bass-Chord” accompaniment style as well as playing with “Dynamics” to trains students to add “Feel” to their playing.
The book approaches of introducing “strumming” lesson first before “notes” reading certainly is a good way to keep the lesson entertaining to kids. It is a lot easier then trying to memorize notes and finding them on the guitar before they can play any meaningful sound. The accompanying CD’s are great sounding and are actually “enhance” CD’s that have extra features when played on a computer. The colourful cartoon characters did their job of making the lessons interesting and the colourful pages does make the book look cheerful and this will surely grab a young students attention.
The book although titled “Complete” in the cover, is not exactly a complete guitar method book because even after finishing the book, students will only learn “four string chords” at best. Although come with a great sounding and enhance CD’s, guidance from a guitar teacher is still needed to make the lessons more effective for kids especially for the five years olds.
Having going through the book and learning the pro and cons of it, I still feel that it is a good place to start for kids who wants to learn the guitar for it’s simplicity.