At The California Conservatory of Music, a large portion of our student body is made up of students who learn guitar with the Suzuki Method, sometimes referred to the “Mother-tongue approach” to music education. There are many aspects of this approach that differentiate it from other methodologies: parental involvement, delayed development of music reading, the simplistic, step-by-step sequence in which early pieces are taught, the use of games to motivate the student in their practice, and the fact that the students all are expected to listen to recordings of their repertoire.
While it is hard to place a hierarchy of importance on these facets, the one that is most applicable to all guitar students is the last one. In fact, it would be better to go further and not just listen to recordings of one’s own repertoire but to classical music at large. Some reading this will correctly think that this is an obvious statement but would also be surprised with a number of students who do not listen to classical music at all! It is not a coincidence that student’s who play with artistry and expression from a very young age also listen to classical music and attend concerts often. One of the most important parts of language acquisition is immersion, and it is important for us to simulate this when approaching a child’s music education. By consistently listening to recordings or attending concerts of great composers, and performing artists, students are inundated with a melodic and harmonic vocabulary, a sense of phrasing and articulation, and hopefully above all, moved by the experience.
In the end, parents want their children to study music for many reasons, but one would hope that one reason is for them to develop a love for music. The best way to further this outside of lessons is to create a musical environment at home by playing music in the background while cooking or eating dinner, while reading or while relaxing. Music streaming companies like Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora make this extremely easy. You can access them from your computer, smartphone, smart TV or through a device like Roku.
I’ve started a Spotify playlist and Pandora station to help you all with this!
Here is a list of some great guitarists to listen to:
David Russell, Marcin Dylla, the Assad Brothers, Roland Dyens, Eliot Fisk, or Pepe Romero.
Last but not least, concerts are very motivating for kids. Here are some local guitar series: