Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course – Book Review
Teaching a child to play the guitar presents a different challenge for any guitar teacher. Often, a guitar teacher will have to find some kind of method suitable for their young student. A good guitar method book specifically designed for children will certainly be of great help in this situation, and one book in particular is “Alfred’s Guitar Lessons for Kids”so let’s see what this book has to offer.
The 140-page book is aimed at children as young as five years old and features colorful pages that are sure to grab a child’s attention. After a few pages of basics such as; “Guitar Anatomy”, “Holding The Guitar” and introduction to “Basic Musical Symbols”, students are presented with an “Activity” page where they will be asked to draw previously learned musical symbols as well as the fundamentals of counting “Beats “. Unlike most traditional guitar method books I use to view, the book does not start with the “Notes Reading” lesson but rather a “Strumming” lesson. An interesting approach by the authors of the book is the introduction of three colorful characters; a dog, a cat and a friendly alligator who are always there to advise students on each lesson.
Reading musical notation does not begin until page 37 of the book, and by then students had already learned four chords in the simple position and had practiced strumming them in the given songs. Starting on page 37, we return to the traditional approach of learning to read the notes on each string from 1st. Activity pages keep popping up between lessons, and colorful characters are always there to help. Students will experiment with combining single notes and strumming chords on page 43 and this will continue with each new note learned.
A “Four String” version of previously learned chords is presented on page 79 and this follows later with the introduction of the “Bass-Chord” accompaniment style as well as playing with “Dynamics” to train students to add “Feel” to their game.
The book’s approaches of introducing the “scratching” lesson before the “notes” are read is certainly a good way to keep the lesson entertaining for children. It’s much easier than trying to memorize notes and find them on the guitar before you can play a meaningful sound. The accompanying CDs sound great and are actually “enhanced” CDs that have additional functionality when played on a computer. The colorful cartoon characters have done their job to make the lessons interesting, and the colorful pages give the book a cheerful look, which will surely catch young students’ attention.
The book, although titled “Complete” on the cover, is not exactly a complete guitar method book because even after completing the book, students will only learn “four-string chords” at best. Although they come with great sound and enhance the CDs, guidance from a guitar teacher is still needed to make the lessons more effective for children, especially for five-year-olds.
After going through the book and learning the pros and cons, I still think it’s a good starting point for kids who want to learn the guitar for its simplicity.