But while all of these can have their place, not all children find them interesting and stimulating. So here are some ideas to help you to find songs to teach children who are learning guitar.
Create A Connection
Motivation is very important when it comes to teaching children. Unlike adults, children will rarely work their way through something they don't find appealing in order to achieve a longer term goal. You have to engage their attention and enthusiasm right from the start.
A good way to motivate children is to show them a song they can make some connection to. Get to know the child you're teaching and find out about them, learn about their life, their interests and the events that happen around them. Then find songs that fit that.
If a child has a dearly loved pet rabbit, then find them songs about rabbits. Or learn what their favourite television shows or films are and teach them the music from those.
Familiar nursery songs might be the thing for some children, but for many others, particularly older children these will be rather has-been. Your favourite rock hits from the 60s or 70s may also be unknown and poorly appreciated by children.
Instead of despairing their lack of musical culture, take a look at some of the latest music from the pop charts. Those trashy pop songs aimed at pre-teen kids that many musicians find of little worth are actually adored by children.
Older children and teenagers will probably also be very interested in pop, rock, R&B, rap and other modern music styles. You can find many three or four chord songs in these styles that can be arranged for them to play.
Leverage Their Creativity
Another way to capture a child's interest is to tap into their natural creativity and curiosity. You can achieve this if you help them to make up their own songs.
Give them a chord progression to play and let them create their own words to sing over it. You could also give them a few chords and let them make up songs themselves by stringing them together however they like.
Another good alternative is to help them to figure out simple melodies by ear, twinkle twinkle little star, frere jacques, happy birthday, or the theme from Star Wars are just a few examples that kids I've known have enjoyed learning.
Easy songs that children can learn quickly are helpful to keep motivation high. There are plenty of two-chord songs that fit this bill.
Many of these, such as Hush Little Baby or Oh My Darlin' Clementine, are well known classics. You can also find pop songs by the Beatles (Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby), Bruce Springsteen (Born In The U.S.A.), Oasis (Songbird) and others that could please older children and teenagers.
If you are teaching or helping a child to learn guitar then remember these principles to find the best songs to teach them.
- Create a connection, choose songs the child can relate to.
- Use the latest pop charts, they'll love learning their favourite hits.
- Harness their creativity, kids love to create their own music.
- Two-chord songs, their simple structure makes them easy to learn.
When you offer children music they connect with and are interested in their motivation to learn will be higher. You'll encourage their love of music and of their instrument and make your life as a teacher easier too.
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Photo by Jim Sneddon.