"Lean your body forward
slightly to support the
guitar against your chest,
for the poetry
of the music
should resound in your heart."
Andres Segovia


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A lot of people ask what I think about School of Rock (SoR)for their kids. I'm sure they're a lot of fun but if what you want for your guitar playing or guitar aspiring child is to spend your hard earned cash on them learning to play the guitar, read and write music (which is what all "musicians" do), understanding and using correct technique, well, then, I'd advise you to look elsewhere.

These storefront operations are not beacons of education or consummate technique. They're going to "teach" by tab (which is an oxymoron) and/or they are going to "show how to play" cool riffs and gimmicks. Frequently, pick technique and timing will be ignored. Just because you're in a contrived performance setting, making rock sounds with your guitar, it doesn't mean you're a guitarist any more than being in a garage makes you a car.

At SoR, th e entry agefor beginners is 7 years old. With rare exception, 7 is too young to begin learning to play the guitar. If you have a strong-willed 7 year old who plays guitar hero and thinks they can play the guitar and are begging you for SoR, you risk that child never learning to play correctly. If you have that rare 7 year old who is ready to learn to play guitar, you need an experienced instructor who knows how to teach a child of that age, size and development about music and the guitar. A good instructor will easily assess if your child is capable of learning to play guitar.

Over the past decade, I have accepted one 7 year old as a student. I suggested many others wait at least until the age of 9.

SoR's focus is the illusion of rock concert performance. Deceiving a child into thinking they are more skilled than they are is never a good thing. The rock emphasis is something that parents need to consider seriously. If you're cool with your kids emulating the rock "leaders" (don't want to use the word teachers, here) at the venue, great. If you are not comfortable, think long and hard before you send your child there. People make deep connections when they are brought together by an affinity and you will be introducing your child to someone after whom they may model themselves and with whom they may make or desire a close relationship. Be certain that's what you want.

In addition to those concerns, the arrogance factor of the child frequently increases by a few hundred percent when a beginner or intermediate guitarist attends venue of this sort - and that is problematic for any genuine instructor the child may have in the future. My experience has been that the time it takes to reign the student in and fix bad habits picked up was an unpleasant experience for both the student and me.

There is also the issue of the child being able to distinguish between reality and fantasy. I've never encountered so many elementary school through high school age kids who didn't have an accurate grasp on reality as I have recently. Putting a kid on stage to perform what they've been shown, may further contribute to blurring the line between reality and fantasy. That's just not healthy.

The truth is, that becoming skilled at something requires work and practice and dedication. That's why success in musica as well as many arenas, is so illusive.

I have a problem with the "teachers" too (okay, I used the word but didn't like it.) They are all reputed to be working musicians. It's probably true. But it doesn't mean they have any capability to teach. That's a separate skill set.

Just because you can play doesn't necessarily mean you have a clue how to train someone to become a great or even adequate guitarist.

Basically, what you have at School of Rock, is a mill. They are not set up to give your child the personal care necessary to teach the instrument correctly. Their goal is to enroll and be paid for as many "students" as they can schedule. They want to put your kid on stage so you will think SoR is amazing and tell your friends.

They're selling the sizzle, but there isn't any steak.


Tell a guitarist friend who might also have questions


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Wednesday, November 1, 2017