Playing in my First Rock Band
Musicaliti Master Classes gives children a feel for playing in a band. Children are typically at different developmental levels, playing different repertoire, but the entire experience of playing the guitar changes when they play with each other – children around the same age who have been playing for around the same length of time!
Participants have all been playing in private guitar lessons for some time, and can be any age older than 6 years old. Sessions are usually by invitation so that children of similar ability levels are able to perform together successfully, although requests can be made for different abilities. While master classes are geared to 4-5 children per 2 hour session, we have been known to have 8, split into groups with multiple abilities. Sessions have been 4 hours long in the past, which we are looking to reduce to 2-3 hours, with time for parents to watch at the end. They are held in locations around Bolton that offer the best room cost and facility availability (enough space and electric points for children, guitars, amps, wires, music stands).
Co-operation, social skills, verbal cues, audio cues, timing, focus, self-control – whatever you want to call it, children learn how to find their place in creating something bigger than themselves. If they are having lessons, they are musical and interested in music. If they are practising daily, they have found a passion and/or a conscientious parent who personally benefited from playing an instrument. But skill and practice in isolation, even playing along successfully with backing tracks, have little to do with the experience of playing live with others like you, working out how their timing and patterns fit with yours, and how it all works together to create an experience that goes beyond the page of music. Playing together develops patience, understanding, consistency, clear communication, but more than anything, playing together develops confidence. Every child’s first time is full of uncertainty and doubt, but the relief they feel after the first song or two is so clear. They quickly become friends, realising they already have a common interest, but the most meaningful benefit that all parents express afterwards is the enjoyment and confidence!
Although lessons are open for acoustic as well as electric, RSL’s syllabus has focussed on electric guitar for some time now. As a result, almost all of the children I have taught started on acoustic guitars but in order to move on to the 2nd grade, they have needed electric guitars (although not all children choose to follow the exam route). And as a result of this, children all have electric guitars. This makes these sessions exceptionally loud so require strict discipline in keeping equipment loud enough to hear everybody – our last master class had 8 children as well as my and my co-teacher’s electric guitars!
(In the future if children are interested in following the acoustic syllabus, we have the equipment to mic up the guitars. We also hope to add beginner drummers and bass guitarists – another syllabus option – so that we have the whole band feel, and dare I say vocalists, too …!)
When attending master classes, each child will receive a folder of new repertoire. Please ensure that each child brings:
- The child’s own guitar is absolutely essential – if you are already in the car and on the way, turn around! Be late! There will not be a spare because of the nature of the session!
- The amp is the next important item. There will not be a spare – we are not that rich (yet, ha ha), but if you want your child to be heard like everyone else, the amp is necessary!
- The music stand is so helpful to have. Children with music stands in their own lessons will know how unbelievably reassuring it is to have your own and not have to share with somebody a little clumsier than you!
- Lesson music is only necessary if your child needs it for the “show and tell” part of the session. The session will not be based on their lesson material at all, although they may recognise other children play the same songs.
- Plectrums are the musical version of office pens – they disappear! Please buy as many as you dare, (know that special ones WILL get lost), give them out sparingly, and insist on using the same one for as long as possible – all the while knowing that they just disappear!
Musicaliti Master Classes are the perfect introduction to beginning a band and/or session musician development as opportunities to develop skills on rock instruments for beginners are virtually non-existent! Performance opportunities are restricted to school, faith or interest groups, however we are working behind the scenes to develop more opportunities for our budding performers.
While we do hold a performance (and children are fantastically respectful while others are playing!), please be aware that this is not an exam. This is an opportunity to learn to manage performance jitters, to learn to entertain as individuals (unheard of in formal education), to bring joy. As teachers, we know which bits need improvement, we know when timing is out. We also know of too many successful musicians who were also told that they had bits that could be improved, or else they changed the timing – and often these “imperfections” have gone on to make music that is iconic.
Our focus is not on perfection, but passion; not competition but confidence; not performing but playing. And our definition of play is that amazing, joyful time when you are doing the right activity at the right time, with the right level of skill, right level of ability, with the right people, in the right place. When time itself disappears; when you are in the moment, not planning the future, not thinking about the past – just playing. If nothing else, let us teach them to play.
Said at a baby session for 0-2 year olds
“This is the only session where he will stop and join in”
“This is the first time she crawled”
“This is where he started singing”
“He’s started holding his ukulele just like you hold your guitar”
“She’s memorised the words to that new song, here’s the video”
“The huge variety of instruments is the biggest reason that we love having you”
“She’s suddenly stopping herself and giving other children a turn”
“He got the whole family to sit in a circle and pass the instruments in turn”
“She’s always talking about you, so mum wanted to get you a Christmas gift”
“Could you recommend a ukulele book? I had to get her one for her birthday”
“After attending your nursery music and then afterschool music club, he is in year 6, doing grade 6 music exams”
“Could you please consider teaching private guitar to my 6 year old and ukulele to my 4 year old – this is such an accessible way into music”
“She was so anxious and frustrated, and that all seems to have been channelled into practise”
“He’s changed to a private school and they are so impressed with his maths ability – I credit your music teaching”
“Could you also teach my secondary school child? You must be so good, I (dad) may have to book a few lessons with you”
“He was so uncertain about doing anything in public, and this session has given him so much confidence that he wants to perform for his school”
“Please can you hold another session, he would like them every month – or fortnightly”
“She’s going to enter Britain’s Got Talent, she won’t put her guitar down”
“Aah, brilliant, this is the best bit, you brought the ukuleles!”
“That was so cool, the way we played it all together at the same time”
“Can he start guitar lessons with you? He loved trying out the electric guitar”
“I felt awful before we got here but now that we’ve sung, I feel so much better, you just forget your problems”
“Choir has really improved my confidence, there was this job going and I decided to go to the interview – and I got it”
“It’s so good to forget about your day and just sing”
“After your music training, one of the students taught herself ukulele and planned her demonstration lesson around it”
“The students got a great feel for not only holding the session, but what it would feel like as a child in a session”
“We would love you to teach with us more often, could you apply for a job here?”
“It was really good singing all those old songs – are you coming again?”
Said at a baby session for 0-2 year olds