I've been teaching a young guitar student named Ella for about a year and a half. Mostly because of her age, and partly because of some hand coordination issues her mother told me about, I've had to go very slowly with Ella. We've repeated several lessons and simplified others.
Over the past month, Ella has finally started to "get it." I can almost see the light bulb blinking above her head. She can read chord diagrams. She is playing her melody assignments almost perfectly. Her counting has improved by leaps and bounds. She is beginning to play chords more fluidly. Is there room for improvement? Always! But what a difference in her playing in the span of a month!
I can sum up Ella's recent improvement in one word: devotion. Ella absolutely loves the guitar, and even when she has struggled, she has a wonderful attitude about it. As a matter of fact, Ella is so fun and funny, that even a difficult lesson with her is a pleasure. Ella's parents are also devoted, making sure she practices regularly, and spending time with her at home to help her the best they can. Great parents, a strong desire to learn the instrument, and an upbeat attitude is a hard combination to beat.
On top of everything else, Ella wrote a song last week. She doesn't know how to write the notes or how to figure out what chords will go with it, but it's a good song. And I don't mean it's a good song for a young girl. I mean that it's really a good song, with a chorus, a rhyme scheme, an interesting melody, and thoughtful lyrics. Her mom is going to send me a voice recording so I can add some chords to it. It may not be long before she can figure out her own chords. I'll be happy to help her with that.
Ella started lessons at age 7. She'll be turning 9 in the fall. She's been begging and begging for an electric guitar. Her parents told her that if she sticks with guitar for two years, then she'll get an electric guitar for her birthday. She's earned it.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.