Frequently asked questions

I am not a guitar teacher. Do I have to know how to read music to teach my daughter/son?


While this method is simple, it is recommended that to give your child the best experience you should have some basic music knowledge and skill to direct them. We suggest you let your local guitar teacher know about us if they haven't heard of us already!




What makes Copy, Play & Learn easy?


The books now on the market don’t adequately address the challenges faced by young beginners. Currently, in order for a child to start enjoying playing the guitar, they must first be able to mentally process pitch and rhythm. This requires thought and analysis and asks the student to process the pitch and duration of a note many times within a bar. A lot of beginner books make use of nursery rhymes and Christmas carols because there is an argument that if a child knows these songs, they will more inclined to want to learn them. However if you consider the tune, Mary had a little lamb, it uses notes of four different pitches and three different rhythmic variants plus the student has to consider hand position and posture. It is hard work, mentally challenging and a young child will often react negatively to this. The Copy, Play and Learn method allows children to learn to read music as they play and in their own time. The method works on one fine motor skill at a time and turns exercises into real, engaging songs. Students learn to play at first by imitating a visually logical pattern of notes as played by their teacher. Students will learn to read partly by associating a series of notes with an aural trigger of previously learned words, melodic or rhythmic phrases.




I am a classroom Music Teacher. Is this method suitable for large groups?


Yes, absolutely! Many classroom teachers are using this method as it develops many and varied musical skills. The short phrases alternating between teacher and student mean that the students will produce a clean sounding performance. Check out my blog for how I used this system with larger groups.




My student wants me to write the names of the notes above them. Should I be doing this?


No! Writing the names of the note above or below the note doesn’t encourage the child to read music. Make use of the prompts Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit and F A C E to encourage your students to work out the note names for themselves. Get your children to discover that as the note moves up by step its name advances in alphabetical order and that as the notes move down by step the note names go backwards. There are flash cards in the back of the book that you can make use of too to assist you with this. Ask your student to identify the note or phrase on each card and then play it.




What sort of guitar should children between 5-8 years of age start on?


It is recommended that a young child start on a half or three quarter size nylon stringed guitar. The reason for this is that nylon stringed guitars have a nice wide neck facilitating easier finger placement and the strings are of a thicker gauge and are strung at a lower tension which means that their fingers don’t get as sore.




How come the kids don’t use picks?


Children don’t use picks or plectrums at this early stage as they are just one more distraction and can just ‘get in the way’. Children need to be able to feel the string to locate it.




Most guitar teachers use tab now days. Why don’t you have tab alongside the music?


Getting the child to read notes is important. Reading music enables the student to communicate effectively with other musicians and eases the stress on school music teachers who are trying to involve their guitarists in ensemble playing where the guitar part is written in music. Like writing the note names above the note, if tablature existed alongside the written music most children would focus solely on the tablature.




Why doesn’t this book introduce note values or use any key or time signatures?


Minimal musical terms have been used in this book in an effort to simplify and ‘de-clutter’. Children between the age of 5-8 can understand ‘taas’ and ‘tee-tees’ but anything more complex is to be introduced at the next stage of thier learning.




What is the difference between CPL and a regular guitar book?


Regular guitar books require thought and analysis asking the student to process the pitch and duration of a note many times within a bar plus the student has to consider hand position and posture. This is very complicated especially for children between the age of 5-8. This is one of the reasons why many guitar teachers don't teach younger children and why the Copy Play & Learn method is the simple and easy way to teach 5-8 year olds to play guitar.




Most guitar books have a lot of information about posture and technique. Why doesn’t Copy, Play & Learn?


There is a lot of information contained in the opening pages of a guitar book that a teacher will normally impart to their students anyway. As a result, this information is rarely, if ever, read by a student and is consequently unnecessary.




Should I be using the backing tracks when I teach?


Absolutely! Singing the words to the songs or naming the notes to the backing tracks give the child an immediate sense of beat and rhythm.




Most guitar teachers won’t teach anyone under the age of about eight or nine. My student is six. Can I teach them using this method?


Yes! The reasons why most guitar teachers don’t teach children under 8 is because they have poor fine motor skills, limited concentration and a developing mental capacity that is unable to adequately process pitch and rhythm and apply it to the instrument. Copy Play & Learn Guitar isolates and drills one skill at a time. It takes finger exercises and turns them into real songs that kids can relate to. Musical phrases are short so children have time to gather their thoughts. The children imitate a visually logical series of notes as played by their teacher which eases the stress of having to mentally process pitch and rhythm.




When are the children able to read music by themselves?


This will vary from child to child but there are many songs in the Copy, Play & Learn system that challenge a child’s ability to read independently. Often the notes in these pieces will move in a logical and predictable manner and may only require the student to analyse one note every couple of bars.




How does this book remain exciting and relevant to the young beginner?


The songs contained in the Copy, Play & Learn method ensure enthusiasm for learning by being humorous, contemporary and exciting. The songs make use of themes based around childhood experiences such as; sleepovers, surfing, skateboarding, x-box, football and personal relationships. Children enjoy linking the themes of the songs and may delight in telling you that they’ve figured out why the sister of the main character, Simon, is trying to suffocate him with her pillow in the song Dorothy’s Revenge. They may also tell you that that’s the reason why Simon is dreaming about being low in oxygen in the song, Lost in Space. To make certain that children are amused there is a lot of Andy Griffiths style of humour featuring dog farts, ear wax and snot.





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