With origins that trace back to the 15th century, musicians have enjoyed playing the guitar and it's predecessors for the past 4,000 years. It's popularity stems from it's ability to cross many genres and (especially with modern electric guitars) create a wide variety of timbres. Guitar players (like many musicians) are notorious for creating their own unique "voice/sound" not only through the use of different guitars (serious guitar players love to own at least 3-4), but also through the use of different amps, effects pedals, special strings, pickups, built in mics, equalizers, and now even mobile phone/tablet apps. As complex as the world of guitar can be today, every beginning guitarist usually starts with a simple acoustic (no cable/amp required) or basic electric instrument (single cable plugged into a small amplifier).
About the Guitar Program at LAAPA:
Guitar, Bass, Banjo, Mandolin, Dulcimer, and Ukulele Lessons at our Covington, Mandeville and River Ridge schools are available at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. Whether you've never played before or are already working on face melting solos and want to take your skills to the next level, we're ready to help! Lessons begin as early as ages 6-7 and our instructors usually recommend getting started on an acoustic instrument for simplicity. Students are welcome to begin on electric as well if the prefer.
Students under age 7 will traditionally begin with a student sized guitar (1/2 or 3/4) and nylon strings. Nylon strings are much easier on beginner's fingers. Young students with very small hands may prefer to begin lessons on ukelele which will translate perfectly over to the guitar when they are ready! Private and Small Group Lessons are held for 30, 45, or 60 minutes each week. An additional weekly 45 minute group theory class is also available to all currently enrolled guitar students free of charge. Students will learn to read standard as well as "tab" music notation, play melodies, chords, and improvise. Our guitar students at LAAPA are welcome to and encouraged to bring in recordings of their favorite bands and players to learn, study, and transcribe.
Performance Opportunities for Guitar Students
As with all of our music and dance programs, each student has a variety of Performance Opportunities at LAAPA. Our recitals are held each June and December, and all guitar students are encouraged to try our for one of our rock ensembles or jazz ensembles which perform at various events throughout the year. We regularly add new recital performances and educational videos to our YouTube channel which you can watch here!
About Our Guitar Instructors
Our guitar faculty members are all hand picked by the Academy for their high level of communication and teaching skills as well as for their abilities to inspire and motivate. You'll find many of our guitar faculty members performing locally at regular gigs in various venues and clubs throughout the city of New Orleans and Mandeville and the surrounding metropolitan area. All of our guitar instructors teach and perform in many different styles. Guitar lessons are available in rock, pop, funk, r&b, gospel, classical, jazz, christian, and more. Whether you're interested in learning classical guitar technique or are ready to rock out, your guitar lessons at LAAPA will consist of an individual lesson plan specifically tailored to your goals.
Watch a sample guitar lesson from our Lagniappe Lessons series on "How to Play Harmonics on the Guitar."
Some frequently asked questions regarding guitar lessons that we receive include:
"What happens during guitar lessons?"
During your lessons, your teacher will most likely break up the time into several different segments to ensure coverage of multiple, essential topics. You'll probably begin with a warmup or two (such as scales (major, minor, blues, diminished, etc) and/or arpeggios. As students progress, this may evolve into transcibed patterns and trying to warm up with them in a variety of different keys (should they be interested in improvisation). The next segment will focus on reviewing your current repertoire and working to fine tune, iron out areas that need improvement. The final segment will include starting new music and/or your instructor showing you something new, fun, and cool that you can take home to implement in your practicing for the week. This is all just an example - each lesson can be exactly tailored to the needs and interests of the student!
"What kind of guitar should I get? / What are some well known brands?"
Most of our instructors usually prefer that students start on acoustic if they are on the younger side (under age 7-8) because electric guitar strings are a bit harsher on the fingers for beginners. Nylon strings on acoustic guitars are much easier to start with. There are so many guitar brands, old and new, but a few of the most common names to look for are Ephiphone, Yamaha, Taylor, Martin, Gibson, Parker. When pricing guitars, we generally recommend avoiding the ones that seem "too good to be true." Usually it is unless you're shopping for a used instrument and the owner has detailed paperwork!
"I just want to learn some awesome lead guitar solos. Do I have to learn to read music?"
Learning to read standard music notation on the guitar is not as hard as you'd think! Ryan Cullen, Academy Director has in fact published a tutorial on reading music which we have posted below. However, the answer is "no." We don't force reading on any of our students and we realize that students enjoy learning the guitar with a number of different goals in mind and in many ways. Perhaps you learn best by ear - that's great! Your instructor will work with you to transcribe the songs you're interested in and you can either simply memorize them OR if you have trouble memorizing everything instantly, they may recommend working in tabalature which is a music notation designed specifically for the guitar. Of course if you don't mind learning both tabalature and standard music notation, that's the best route to take in terms of maximizing your knowledge of the guitar and becoming the best you can be!