The importance of good coaches and good materials

Before starting my report, I must confess that I've just started going to a guitar class. Once a week, I go to Urawa with my guitar case on my shoulder and take a 40-minute lesson.

I've planned to try something new while I am a university student. At first I had a lot of ideas: going to a tennis school, trying cooking, starting a DTP course, going to a yoga studio or a guitar class. And then I've decided to practice the guitar because I really like music. And the regretful fact that I gave up mastering the basics of the guitar during my high school days encouraged me to try it again.

Of course, I just wanted to enjoy playing the guitar itself, but I also wanted to experience the process of acquiring some new skills as a beginner. And in a class, I can observe how the coaches instruct me objectively. That experience must help me think about what the professional coach should do in a class.

As soon as I started practicing the guitar, I found that moving each hand independently was the most difficult for me. I realized that I needed to automate at least the move of either hand. Furthermore, if I try to sing with my guitar, my both hands will be required to move automatically. So I started practicing the guitar every day because I know only practice makes perfect.

Through my guitar lessons, I found two interesting things. One is about the relationship between accuracy and fluency. Of course, my coach usually tells me to play a chord accurately when I try drill practice. But when we beginners try to play a song, it seems more important to play it fluently than to do it accurately. In fact my coach indicates my errors more often when I fail to change the chord at an appropriate timing than when I can’t make a precise sound. That’s interesting because accuracy comes first and fluency comes next for English speaking or touch-typing.

I know it’s because of the distinctive character of the musical instruments. Playing the guitar is very different from speaking English in that we sometimes play the guitar with someone else. We need to harmonize with a singer and our co-players. So we are expected to play the guitar at a perfect timing.

And my coach advised me, “Your fingers will get used to the guitar gradually and soon you’ll be able to press the strings of the guitar with your fingers stronger and to make a precise sound. They say that it takes about a year for beginners to learn to play the most difficult chord F precisely. She said, “So keep trying to control your fingers appropriately on your guitar even if you can’t make good sounds now.”

The other point is not about how to play but about what to play. Now I’m practicing a Spitz song because it includes basic chords for beginners and also it’s popular among many people. I actually like to practice that song and I hope to play it very well some day. For many guitar beginners, copying a song is not only a very basic training but also one of the good goals. Some of us will get satisfied if we can copy some favorite songs on the guitar perfectly.

Furthermore, we never start to play an original song until we learn to copy some songs well. But now turning to the present state of English classes in Japan, many English teachers let their students speak freely in English before they become proficient enough. Although speaking English has many different aspects from playing the guitar, I think that more input and more precise copying practice should be brought to our English classes before the students start expressing themselves.

I really respect my guitar coaches because they can play it very well. And there are many good songs to play around me. Those two facts motivate me to practice the guitar every day. Thanks to my guitar lessons, I’ve recognized the importance of good coaches and good materials for people who try to acquire some new skills.