Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Guitar indoctrination

Todya, I visited my daughter's daycare/ preschool class to indoctrinate them in the ways of electric guitars.

I got the idea from a boy there who -- when I pick up my daughter -- kept asking me when I was going to bring my guitar in. Plus, I didn't have any real exposure to musical instruments until I was in college, so I though maybe this early exposure might plant the seed in some potential guitarists.

The photo to the left (click to enlarge) shows my pile o' gear, as I packed it around. I brought two amps to allow for two lines of kids to try out the electric guitars (discussed below), as well as to demonstrate that guitar amps come in different sizes and colors. I brought an acoustic guitar, plus two short-scale guitars, and a regular guitar (a Hannah Montana fake Telecaster).

To the left is same gear, unpacked. (I love them electric guitars -- but there's a **lot** more setup and trouble-shooting than with an acoustic...)

You can see the pile o' patchcords, the two guitar stands, and the pedals (two distortion; a delay; a flanger; and a wah-wah) and tuner. Note also the power strip and extension cord

As indicated in my ''setlist'' below, I briefly showed 'em my acoustic guitar (basically, a hollow wooden box; and that you can thump on the side -- AS LONG AS IT'S JUST YOUR HAND -- DO **NOT** HIT IT WITH HARD THINGS!!!). Then I brought out my electric guitar (Hannah Montana, fake telecaster -- three girls in the front row were apparently big fans of Hannah Montana, so I scored bonus points there...), and told them that electric guitars are fun because you can change the sound with these little boxes.

I pointed out the ''special microphones, that listen to the guitar strings'' (i.e. the pickups), and how the sound goes through the purple wire (the patchcord), through the pink box, through the black wire (another patchcord), through the yellow box, [...etc...], and out to the amplifier. The amplifier is like a radio -- it makes the guitar sound loud, so you can hear it.

I demoed the different effects pedals (I A/B'd them -- for compare and contrast), and asked them to tell me what the sounds were like (e.g. distortion pedal -- happy? sad? angry?). This didn't work as well as I'd hoped -- maybe they have to be more than 5yo, developmentally, for this aspect to work.

(Addendum, Nov. 16, 2009 - the preschool teacher e-mailed me two photos; see new blog entry.)

I intentionally had the two amplifiers set up as a (nearly) stereo pair, and had them close their eyes (and experience a touch of motion sickness?) when I ran the flanger through 'em.

They seemed to like the wah-wah pedal (they bought into the reasoning that it was named thus because it goes ''wah, wah'' when you step on it).

Finally, I took a few minutes to set up three hands-on ''stations'': the acoustic guitar at the back (supervised by one of the teachers); the red short-scale guitar, red amp, and a distortion pedal in the front left corner of the room (supervised by the other teacher, who also used the classroom digital camera for a photo op with each of the kids); and I supervised the short-scale brown guitar, big black amp, and another distortion pedal in the front right of the classroom.

Note that I had intentionally brought guitars that I was willing to accept minor kid-induced damage (although none occurred, that I noticed). I didn't let them use

I was intrigued by the difference in interest level and aptitude of the kids: some kids went through all three stations, while others just went through once (ironically, including the boy who had pestered me to bring my guitars). And while some held the same left hand position and repeated the same basic strum over and over, others experimented with plucking the individual strings, moving the fret hand up and down the neck (in a rough kind of barre chord), and/or varying their strum pattern.

This was my ''setlist'':
  • Acoustic
  • Electric
  • (OK for boys to have Hannah MT gtr)
  • What is f/x pedal
  • Signal path
  • Dist.
  • Delay
  • Flanger
  • Wah
  • Rock star face
  • Three lines, kids can try them out

In hindsight, I should've brought my decibel meter, as I probably violated some OSHA convention with the amplifier volume levels.

Fun stuff; I'll likely do this once a year, as my daughter progresses through gradeschool.



At November 14, 2009 12:33 PM, Anonymous Giovanni said...

That was nice of you to bring in all your gear for the little kids! I remember when my mom let me bring my two pet ducks into kindergarten....or was it grade school? They were muddy, as ducks can be, so she thought (or maybe I thought) it would be a good idea to bring them into the house for a wash in the bath tub. (Ducks like water, right?) Muddy or not, the ducks didn't seem to want to stay in the bathtub, and insisted on flapping and quacking all over the bathroom! Feathers were everywhere, and chaos reigned as these two ducks went beserk and Mom and I tried to calm them down... I can't remember what happened next, but my little friends at school sure were appreciative, though!

At November 15, 2009 12:39 AM, Blogger Gye Greene said...

Interesting -- don't remember that at **all**...



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