Learning Guitar for Music Therapists and Educators

Learning Guitar for Music Therapists and Educators

Paperback: 146 pages
Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
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Learning Guitar for Music Therapists and Educators is foundational; as such, it is the first half of picture. The second half is a companion book of varied stylistic accompaniment techniques which can be applied to nearly any song. The result is any song – even twinkle twinkle  – can sound like a waltz, a polka, a tango, a bossa nova… Enough with Book 2. Back to Book 1…

With completion of this book the MT student will have an excellent foundational skills. Specifically, they will be able to read standard notation for guitar, as well as chord charts and tablature music. They will know a variety of chord strums and picking patterns; they will be able to alter the patterns in a song to provide contrast as needed. They will learn a variety of common chord progressions (not just I-IV-V). When they learn a chord progression, they have learned numerous songs that use this progression. They will learn to transpose with and without a capo.

Nothing is presumed in the book. For instance, some students may have shortcomings in musically literacy (reading notes and rhythms). The method presents rhythm and strumming as a complimentary whole. For example, rather than asking students to count 1 and 2 and…, they are asked to move their strumming hand and tapping foot in uniform movement as they count down – up – down – up. Zisa discovered, while as part of his dissertation research, that word tools (one and two syllable words) help students more easily understand how create and notate rhythms. Additionally, Zisa wants students to feel the difference between a downbeat and an upbeat. A music therapist – when directing their clients in a rhythmic activities – may also find this method helpful in teaching rhythmic pattern. This is but one example of how different I have approached pedagogic problems.

One more example of the pedagogic difference, learning skills (what I call the how to factor) and note reading is not done simultaneously. Learning how to play (position, control finger movement) comes first. Very first lessons present easy melodic pattern exercises they learn and improvise (with a youtube harmonic accompanying recording) with. The simplicity of the pattern is complicated when they try to direct their fingers to change the pattern. The creative component is the hook to the exercise, along with the accompaniments which make the “exercise” a fun musical activity. Students learn the note names this same way; first, they learn where the notes are on the guitar then they learn how to read the notes. By the time they get to lesson 4 and 5, they are reading notes in first position without looking at their hands. The book contains lots of interesting differences in approach to helping students solve the most problems they commonly experience.

It is obvious [Dr. Zisa] thought carefully about what types of material would be useful to a beginning guitar student who is a music therapist.  I very much appreciate that students are taught to play several songs with each chord progression.  It is so important for music therapy students, especially those for whom playing an accompaniment instrument is new, to understand how versatile their skills are with a few chord progressions.  Students are at a disadvantage if they are not able to recognize and transfer the progressions in the songs they learn!
Dr. Zisa’s approach …helps students understand transposition as a natural extension of learning the guitar.  This is so helpful for those students who do not “think” in terms of theory.
The foundational skills…help students improvise on the guitar immediately and recognize the melodic components of what they are playing.  As a visual learner I appreciate knowing chord shapes, but if a student relies on this too much or too early they may be in danger of using the guitar as a tool without understanding what they are playing.  I appreciate the care that [Zisa took] with making sure that the students are learning the component parts of playing separately.
Debra Gombert MA, MT-BCProfessor of Music Therapy & Clinical Coordinator of Music Therapy, Eastern Michigan