"The Guitar Dojo" is much more than a cool name - it is a system of teaching borne out of our own experience and the input of many students and parents over a long period. And much like a martial arts dojo we place great value on developing a highly productive community that works together respectfully towards our mutual goals , celebrating each other's achievements along the way.
Let's take a look at some of the thinking behind The Guitar Dojo System by addressing some common discussion points around learning the guitar :
WARNING : This is about to get wordy!! If you'd rather just find out about what we do and why in basic terms without all the thought processes behind it , then please check out THE GUITAR DOJO SYSTEM.
Private Lessons vs Small Classes
Learning any instrument in a private one-on-one setting and then practicing alone at home can be a lonely experience for all but the most dedicated students. That's where small group classes are hugely beneficial as they not only build a social element into music lessons that students look forward to , but provide important benefits that private students can miss out on , such as learning how to communicate and collaborate with their fellow musicians.
The perceived negative around small group classes is that not everybody gets sufficient attention and that teaching a group of students that can progress at different rates is problematic. In reality these issues can be managed , just as they are in a school classroom , but we believe that neither traditional one-on-one or standard group classes are the best solution. That belief was a key driver behind the work that has gone into developing what we now call The Guitar Dojo System.
Should There Be A Structured Lesson Path?
Many guitar teachers like to hand over the responsibility for the lesson format to the student. "What would you like to learn today?" is often how a lesson begins. Other teachers will decide what to cover as the student sits down to start the lesson. Yet other teachers will do nothing but work through songs that the student has requested .
I recall the unease that I felt in these situations with some of my own teachers. I went to lessons expecting direction and some clear goals to work towards , not to be asked what I wanted to do. Needless to say progress was slow with these teachers, as was motivation.
At The Guitar Dojo one of the first things we ask our students is to name a few songs they would like to work towards , but then the focus moves to learning the skills that will allow them to play the songs and also to understand how the songs are written , so that one day they may write their own. This is done in a stepwise process with clear goals and reward points along the way so that students and teacher(s) are very clear on where they are and where they're going at all times.
What If A Student Is Really Stuck On Something Mid-Week?
A week between lessons can feel like a long time if you hit a brick wall and need to ask a question. For the vast majority of students there is no such thing as ringing up the music store etc.....and saying "Could you please get the teacher on the line , I have a question?" I know that I was never given that option when I was growing up!
At The Guitar Dojo we take advantage of technology wherever we can in order to provide the highest level of support to our students. Each student has their own dedicated login to our portal , through which they can ask questions whenever they like. We undertake to acknowledge your query within 24 hrs and will usually respond within that timeframe - if not then certainly within 48 hrs. We can also use this system (chat/video) to work around times when a student is sick, away etc.......
"Gamifying" Music To Motivate Kids and Provide Holistic Learning
We like to think that guitar lessons are a great way to get kids off their devices and interacting with their fellow humans and that's yet another advantage of small classes. But having said that , technology allows us to teach in ways that we never dreamed of even 5 years ago and can also make learning much more fun , which in turn leads to increased motivation and faster progress.
At The Guitar Dojo our "Music Lab" is a key part of each lesson. Each member of The Guitar Dojo has access to state of the art gamified learning tools to assist in the development of pitch , rhythm and a good "musical ear." This is the sort of training that we wish that we had as young music students. Physically learning how to play is just a part of becoming a musician.
One of the .................Orff Teach,Involve etc.....
One of my most vivid childhood memories of learning guitar is the disappointment I felt when (on more than one occasion) my music store teacher finished university and moved on. School lessons can also see the same issues when a child moves schools , and that's aside from the issue of having to skip other classes to attend lessons.
We aim to provide the most stable learning environment possible. That's why every student at The Guitar Dojo is taught by Brent and , while this does limit our capacity , it is necessary in order to address this issue definitively.
Scheduling issues and "make up lessons" are the bane of many a music teacher and parent. We have multiple options in place to address this in the smoothest possible way without the need for scheduling special make up lessons.
The Practice Problem?
"The Practice Problem" is something that can be addressed by the teacher and student/parent in partnership. The basic issue is that it doesn't matter how much effort a guitar teacher puts in - if the student does not practice then progress will be substantially slower than if they did. This is just a fact.
At The Guitar Dojo our goal is to make the experience so much fun that students really want to practice and look forward to their next lesson. We have systems and technology in place to assist you with practice tracking and we also allocate a "supervised practice" time within many of the weekly lessons to assist here .....practicing how to practice!!
In the end though , students and parents have a large part to play in getting the most out of our programs by making sure that regular practice occurs between lessons. Also remember that a number of short 10-15 minute sessions is much more effective than one session of an hour!
So......................how do we provide a system that effectively manages all of these issues?