Teaching a child to play the guitar presents a different challenge for any guitar teacher. Many times, a guitar teacher will have to find some type of method that suits the young student of his. A good guitar method book specially designed for children will certainly be of great help in this situation, and one book in particular is “Alfred’s Kids Guitar Course”so let’s see what this book has to offer.
The 140-page book is intended for children up to five years old and has colorful pages that can certainly catch the attention of children. After a few pages of the basics like; “Anatomy of the Guitar”, “Holding the Guitar” and Introduction to “Basic Music Symbols”, students are presented with an “Activity” page where they will be asked to draw the music symbols learned earlier as well as the fundamentals of counting the “Times”. Unlike most of the traditional guitar method books I usually see, the book doesn’t start with a “Reading Notes” lesson, but rather with a “Strumming” lesson. An interesting approach from the writers of the book is the introduction of three colorful characters: a dog, a cat, and a friendly alligator who are always around to give advice to students in each lesson.
The music notation reading does not begin until page 37 of the book, and by this time the students had already learned four chords in simple position and had practiced strumming them on the given songs. From page 37 onwards it goes back to the traditional approach of learning to read notes on each string from 1st. Activity pages continue to pop up between lessons and the colorful characters are always there to help. Students will experience the single note blending and chord strumming on page 43 and this will continue with each new note learned.
A “four-string” version of the chords learned earlier is presented on page 79 and this follows later with the introduction of the “Bass-Chord” accompaniment style, as well as playing along with “Dynamics” to train students to add “Feel” to his interpretation. .
The book focuses on presenting the “strumming” lesson first before the “notes” reading is certainly a good way to keep the lesson entertaining for the children. It’s much easier than trying to memorize the notes and find them on the guitar before they can play a meaningful sound. The accompanying CDs sound great and are actually “enhanced” CDs that have additional features when played on a computer. The colorful cartoon characters did their job of making the lessons interesting and the colorful pages make the book look cheerful and this is sure to catch the attention of the young learners.
The book, although titled “Complete” on 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 they come with great sounding and improved CD’s, guidance from a guitar teacher is still needed to make the lessons more effective for children, especially five year olds.
Having read the book and learned the pros and cons, I still feel it’s a good place to start for kids who want to learn guitar because of its simplicity.