Learning and enjoying music doesn’t always have to be about structured lessons, or even be ‘taught’ as such.
This weekend I set my son’s little guitar up with an open E major tuning (E B E G# B E) and gave it to him to play with. I offered absolutely no instruction, but simply handed him the instrument and a plectrum and let him get on with it. Over the following 20 minutes or so, Robin sat happily strumming away at the string, sometimes all together and at other times taking individual or pairs of strings at a time. He occasionally used ‘up strums’ and sometimes used ‘down strums’ – it didn’t matter because he was allowed to figure out the difference on his own, just as I experimented with a Bontempi keyboard when I was a child. Here’s some footage of Robin’s first go on a guitar that morning:
There he is, chilling out in his pyjamas enjoying making music. To me, this is where the process begins. Of course, should he be interested to find out more (what he could do with his left hand to change the notes, what the words and phrases are to describe what he’s doing, or perhaps how to sit more comfortably holding the guitar) then a formal style of teaching might be appropriate at that time. But, for the moment you see above, Robin was just happy teaching himself how to play the guitar, and I feel that that’s a totally natural and wonderful way for him to start. He has since gone back to the guitar (without any prompting from me) and continued where he left off: a total joy to witness.