FAQs & Equipment

Bethesda Maryland Guitar Teacher What kind of guitar should I get? You will need an acoustic steel string guitar, not a classical (nylon string) guitar. For specific guitar recommendations, please contact me for more detailed information depending upon the size of the student, your budget, etc. What is the difference between a classical guitar and a steel string (or folk) guitar? A classical guitar has nylon strings and is intended for classical music only. A steel string (also known as a folk guitar) is more versatile in terms of playing all musical styles except for classical. Unless you want to learn classical music (e.g., Bach), I recommend getting a steel string guitar. Should I rent a guitar? You can rent a guitar at a very reasonable price (approximately $15/month). However, there are usually only a couple of styles available which may not fit everyone very well. What if I already own a classical guitar? It’s fine to start out on a classical guitar unless the neck is so wide that the student becomes frustrated. The neck on a classical guitar is much wider than on a steel string guitar and makes forming chords very cumbersome. Many students do just fine starting out if their classical guitar has a relatively narrow neck. Ultimately, however, they will not get the sound that they want from a classical guitar if they are trying to play popular music. As well, classical guitars constantly go out of tune. What is an electric/acoustic guitar? It is an acoustic guitar outfitted with the electronics that allow it to be plugged in and amplified. It will still play and sound like an acoustic guitar. Many of my students own these. What is a cutaway guitar? Part of the guitar is cut away on one side (closest to one’s lap) to allow the player to reach further down on the neck of the guitar. This is very useful when one wants to play more “lead” or “solos” (single notes rather than chords). What other equipment do I need? Each student needs a capo, a tuner, a few thin picks and some medium gauge picks. For specific capo and tuner recommendations, please contact me for more detailed information as to brand names, model numbers and where to purchase this equipment. What kind of guitar picks should I buy? When students are first starting out, they should use thin picks because they are more flexible. After that, medium and hard picks are easier to control and produce more sound. My child has no previous musical experience. Does this make a difference? The students seem to learn at the same pace no matter what their musical background. The real decisive factor in how quickly progress is made is the amount of time spent practicing in between classes. What if my child misses a class? Your child can make up a class during the week in another class. All make-ups must be made during the 8-week session. Also, I always offer a ninth bonus make-up class as long as at least half of the students in the class have missed one or more classes (which happens most of the time). All students in the class are welcome to attend the ninth, bonus make-up whether or not they have missed a class. How much should I make my children practice? It’s always been my philosophy to let the motivation come from the student. The competitive factor of the group environment as well as the fun material provide ample motivation so that the parents rarely have to push their kids to practice. Some people have told me that they have to tell their kids to stop practicing so they can get their homework done! What is your 24-hour rule with respect to practice? I tell my students that when I teach something new or more challenging, they should try to practice it within 24 hours of learning it in class. After that window, the lesson is much more easily forgotten. Do you offer private lessons? At this point, I am too busy with my group classes during the school year to offer private lessons. Sometimes I offer them during the summer so please feel free to check in during that time. I am happy to refer you to other teachers who offer private lessons during the school year. Why don't you teach children younger than 9 years of age? There are always exceptions, but it’s been my experience that kids younger than that are not developmentally ready to learn without a lot of frustration. This is especially evident when the child is placed in a class with students a year or two older who are developmentally further along and progress much more rapidly. I am happy to refer you to teachers who offer lessons to children younger than 9 years of age.