Thursday, May 27, 2010

A therapeutic guitar lesson

Today, with just one patient on the children's unit at the BHC, I had the opportunity to lead a one-to-one session. If your patient has an interest (like mine did) in learning the guitar, this can turn into an awesome session with a focus on cognitive stimulation.

Tape strips of paper to the neck of the guitar that number each fret (the paper should sit just above the fret, not under the strings).

Create flash cards of the chord fingerings you want to teach, (use a different color of construction paper for each chord). I chose to teach C, D, em, G, A, and A7.

Tape three strips of paper on the fret board; place one in the 1st fret, one in the 2nd fret, and one in the 3rd fret.

Color dots where fingers should be placed for each of the chords you chose. Correspond the color of that dot with the color of the flashcard. To color, pull the strings away carefully to get access to the paper taped onto the fret board.

Guitar with paper labels of frets/chord fingerings
Chord flashcards (with finger numbers)
Sheet music

Task analysis:
1) Teach the patient finger numbers (1=index, 2=middle, 3=ring, 4=little). Quiz patient on finger numbers by calling out numbers and having them wiggle that finger.

2) Teach fret numbers. Quiz: e.g. "Put your 3rd finger anywhere on the 2nd fret."

3) Teach string numbers. Quiz: e.g. "Put your 1st finger on the 5th string on the 3rd fret."

4) Explain to the patient how colors of the dots on the guitar correspond with the chords on the flashcard. Teach them how to finger their first chord (mine was D). Quiz: e.g. "Take fingers off the guitar. Finger the D chord again." Repeat, repeat.

5) If they do really well with all these tasks, allow them to try to figure out the next chord (A) on their own. Quiz as you did in step 4, but then ask them to finger the switch between fingering the first chord and fingering the second.

6) At this point, the patient may play a I-V-I song.

7) Teach another chord (G) and the patient is ready for a I-IV-V-I song! The songs I used for this step were "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and "This Little Light Of Mine."

8) If you have time to advance, teach more chords (C and Em). A great song that utilizes only the chords mentioned in these steps is "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay.

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