After School Guitar Club Guide

By Jennifer Coleman,2014-12-28 13:34
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After School Guitar Club Guide

    After School Guitar Club


    Featuring 10 suggested after school music making


    Using GITC’s Open G Guitar Method

    This project has been created by

    Jessica Anne Baron in collaboration with Kalani

    And has been funded entirely by

    The International Music Products Association



    Guitars in the Classroom trains general classroom teachers as well as specialists and school staff to make and integrate music with guitars into the daily lessons and activities of children and students from birth through high school. This is our primary mission. However, many teachers who train with us wish to start after school guitar clubs and classes. We consider supporting teachers to accomplish this goal as a secondary mission. We hope to continue to develop resources from within the Music Products Industry to make these clubs easier to launch.

    GITC received guidance, support, direction and funding from NAMM, The International Music Products Association to create the materials contained in this guide. We believe it can be beneficial for anyone interested in sharing the joys of making music with children. Once need only possess a few very fundamental guitar skills and some basic experience leading children in group activities to succeed in running a guitar club with this guide.

    The approach is inclusive, non-competitive, light-hearted and fun. It starts with guitars tuned Hawaiian style in Open G tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D) because this allows children as young as three to strum over the open strings and sing right away. No fine motor skills are required to begin playing. Everyone succeeds from the beginning and no practice is necessary.

    The activities and lessons in this guide are truly designed to stimulate children‟s musical creativity.

    They are unlike activities you will find elsewhere because they do not teach traditional guitar lessons.


    Instead, they approach the instrument percussively and artistically, inviting experimentation, exploration, discovery, and improvisation.

    They do not ask students to produce right answers, but to find many ways to approach each invitation or challenge in order to create something unique and personal. From this point of departure, learning to make music can become something highly individualistic rather than prescribed. In today‟s musical world this is definitely a plus.


    Some people would call this guide more of an introduction to making music or guitar readiness than actual guitar lessons, and they would be correct to do so! These activities are intended to help ALL students participate in an after school guitar club, discover the ease and creativity of making music, and develop a hunger to learn much more.

    For these reasons, the sessions are easy to run because everyone feels included and encouraged... each time, every child “wins.” But these sessions can also be

    challenging to run because they get kids excited, plugged in, and highly expressive. So having your tools and tricks for group management ready at the onset of each meeting will prove really helpful.


    Once students accomplish basic guitar skills such as holding a guitar, knowing the names of its parts, counting and strumming a rhythm, singing while strumming, setting a rhyme to a rhythm and music, and changing the sounds of the strings by varying volume and pitch, learning to play more chords and scales will come easily.


    Then it will be time to include more traditional guitar education materials. These are widely available at your local music store, or online.

    This after school guide provides you with the instructional tools to help students reach that point. The magic in getting kids trying and playing guitar is giving them a great, fun, easy start...and GITC hopes that these materials will help you do this for each and every child.

    Sessions and the activities in them are meant to be used and organized in any way you wish. You can run sessions as a whole, select one or two parts of them, mix and match parts of different sessions, or just use our ideas as a springboard for your own. There is no “right” way, but many excellent ways to run an after school guitar club meeting. We trust you will find your own.




     When you call on participants, ask for “quiet


     Invite your participants to identify and practice a

    cue to freeze such as a handclapping pattern or

    noticing the lights go off and on once. Use this

    cue to bring quiet whenever you need to.

     Only entrust guitars to participants who show they

    are quiet, focused and ready to receive them.

     Ask participants to put instruments down when you

    are talking, or when they are listening for others

    for an extended period.

     Always help children understand how to show respect

    to the instruments, one another, and you. This

    looks like taking care of guitars, complimenting

    one another‟s ideas, and helping you straighten up

    after the club meeting ends.

     Take time to process what participants are thinking

    and feeling with frequent open-ended questions such

    as “what did that sound like to you?” or “how did

    that sound make you feel?”

Record your sessions, write down the participants

    creative ideas on a large surface everyone can see,

    and create a music book representing the musical

    creations that come from your club.



     The optimal group size ranges from 8-14 students.

    If you want to include more than 14, please be sure

    to find an assistant.

     When you are deciding who may participate in your

    class, it‟s important to include only students who

    truly want to be there and to learn guitar. Try not

    to let anyone treat your music club as free child

    care. It will detract from your participants


     Set ground rules with your participants so they are

    invested in keeping comments positive, encouraging

    and respectful.

     Make sure everyone knows that anyone who is not

    able to participate in a constructive or

    appropriate manner may be asked to leave the club.

    Giving students a chance to “try again next week”

    works wonders.


    ; At least one guitar for every two participants.

    These should be an appropriate size for the


    ; Children ages 6 and below need half-sized guitars.

    Those 7-11 need ? size guitars. Those 12 and older

    may be able to manage full sized guitars. Only tall

    teens with long arms will be comfortable on

    dreadnaught sized guitars.

; A capo for each guitar.

    ; 10 flatpicks for each student. These are easily

    lost or broken.

    ; Guitars straps are optional but fun because they

    allow students to play standing up. Easier for

    dancing, too!



     Please do not allow the guitars to be taken home

    unless you have a double set.

     Many students families cannot afford to buy their

    child a guitar, so eliminating practice levels the

    playing field.

     Make no expectations for practicing guitar outside

    of class. This club should be inspirational without

    requiring homework.

     If students have their own instruments at home,

    they can practice optionally, but please do not

    call a lot of attention to this during your club

    meeting unless EVERY student has access to a guitar

    at home.

     Students with their own guitars who practice at

    home may ask to receive more advanced beginner

    instruction from you. This can be offered, if you

    are available, either before or after the students

    who do not own guitars are present. This will keep

    your group from splitting into haves and have-nots.

    The main activities should be inclusive.

     Students may wish to meet once or twice a week for

    40 min to an hour each time. The minutes fly by

    because the activities are very engaging. Great

    participation makes up for practice at this stage.

     If students do well, they may want to proceed to

    more formal guitar instruction and this will

    require that their families get an instrument for

    them. At that time, practice will be totally




     At the end of each semester, students often enjoy

    having the opportunity to create a group

    performance or a participatory workshop for their


     If you involve them in planning this event, you‟ll

    get the best results.

     Please explain that the purpose is not to “show

    off” or be perfect, but to include their parents in

    what has been meaningful and exciting for them.

    This alleviates pressure. Discuss what was most fun,

    most creative, most pleasing, and share THAT rather

    than practicing a piece over and over.

     Please work in partnership with your school to

    provide the time and venue and the letter to

    parents in a timely manner.

     If you get the chance to take pictures or shoot

    some video footage of your musical event, please

    send a copy to us at GITC! We want to hear all

    about it.



     Parts of An Acoustic Guitar Guitar Accessories

     Holding Positions

     How to Change Your Acoustic Guitar Strings

     For Ball End/Steel Strings

     For Wound/Classical Strings How To Tune A Guitar in Open G The Notes

     The Tuning Technique

     Tune With an Electronic Tuner “Open G” Tuning

     Introduction to “Open G” Guitar

     Chords in Open G

     Putting on the Capo

     Distributing Instruments

     Strum and Sing Rhymes!

     Guitars in the Classroom GUITAR GAMES About Rhythm Ball Games (Guitar Readiness)

     Musical Games

     Let‟s Play Guitar : 10 sessions for elementary aged


     Additional Songs


    Parts of an Acoustic Guitar

    Body: The main portion of the instrument is called the body. Guitars feature rounded upper and lower “bouts” that remind us of two drums, joined in the middle.

    Bridge: This narrow bar is normally placed perpendicular to the guitar neck, well below the sound hole. It holds the saddle of the

    guitar and bottom ends of the guitar strings..

    Bridge Pins: On some guitars, the guitar strings are held in place along the bridge with little pegs called bridge pins that secure the

    ball ends of strings in small holes cut into the bridge.

Head: The head of the guitar holds the string “tuners.”

    Nut: The nut of a stringed instrument guides the strings into their places at the head, and along the fingerboard. A typical guitar nut has six slots, one for each string.

    Frets: Frets are made of thin metal wire. They sit in the wood along the fingerboard at intervals that divide the fingerboard into spaces that create musical half steps. To play notes on the guitar clearly, place your fingertips between the frets, not on them.

    Fingerboard: This flat, smooth surface holds the frets. You press the strings under your fingertips against it to play new notes.

    Sound Hole: Also referred to as the “mouth.” The sound hole allows the vibrating air that occurs when you pluck or strum strings to travel into the guitar and resonate throughout the wooden body. This produces a larger sound than would occur in an instrument without one or more sound holes.

    Saddle: This guides the strings and lifts them above the fingerboard to create string tension. To play a note other than the open strings, one must depress a string against the fingerboard. The amount of string tension created by the height of the nut and bridge is called the guitar‟s “action.” Action can be raised or lowered to improve the playability of your guitar.


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