My Curriculum for 5th Grade Ukulele and 6th Grade Guitar

Review of Palmer’s “The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One”

I was the music instructor for 5th and 6th grades for the 2016-17 school year at Seattle Girls School. I created, developed, and taught my own curriculum, then evaluated two 6th grade guitar classes of 20 students per class and one 5th grade ukulele class of 14 students.

Since this was a new experience for me and I couldn’t find much help online, I thought I’d share a summary of the main points I covered, in case someone out there needs some general guidance. If there’s a need for more specific lesson plans or other materials for teaching guitar and ukulele to middle school students, I may publish a book of my worksheets and lesson plans. Continue reading

10 Reasons You Should Take Guitar Lessons with Susan Palmer

1) Teaching is my passion. Students sense this and they feel inspired to work hard.

2) My experience makes me a more effective teacher. I have been teaching individual (private) lessons and group classes in jazz, blues, and rock styles for over 15 years. I have been the guitar instructor at Seattle University since 2006. In 2010, I created and started teaching The Rock Project at Cornish College of the Arts. I also taught guitar and ukulele classes a couple times a week at Seattle Girls School for a year, and I run a private studio on Capitol Hill where I offer lessons and classes, as well as lessons via Skype/FaceTime. Continue reading

Common Chord Progressions

I had a basic chord diagram book when I was learning how to play guitar and the chords were grouped by key. I would spend hours playing chords in different combinations, and I would often stumble upon sequences that sounded like a song I had heard on the radio. Sometimes, it was easy to recall the name of the tune, and other times the chord progression just sounded *really* familiar. It turns out, there are a handful of chord progressions that are used in thousands of popular songs.

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The Best Apps for Guitar Students and Guitar Teachers

unnamed-23I’m often asked which apps I use and recommend to students and other guitar instructors. Here are a few that I really dig. I’ll keep updating this list as I discover more useful apps.

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200+ Jam Tracks on iReal Pro for “The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume Two”

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I was shocked to learn that Apple does not make computers with built in CD players anymore, so I inputed the music for all the jam tracks from my book, The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume Two  into the iReal Pro app. Besides giving students and fellow teachers a new way to access the play-a-long music from the method book, there are a lot of cool benefits for students:

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Capitol Hill Guitar Lessons (Seattle, WA)

unnamed-14GUITARISTS ON CAPITOL HILL: WHAT’S YOUR GOAL?

    • Get the structure you need to get started, or to get off a plateau if you feel stuck.
  • Walk to your guitar lessons on Capitol Hill (or use the parking spot).
  • Make new musician friends who also live/work on Capitol Hill.

My new Capitol Hill guitar studio is on Boylston and Pine in the Creative Blueprint building — Message me today so we can decide if I am a the right guitar teacher for you!

Contact Susan Palmer: LeadCatPress@gmail.com or 206.349.3226

Need a guitar or other gear delivered to you on Capitol Hill? The Guitar Store (local business) has you covered with same day delivery. I love these guys!


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Awesome Small Scale Guitar Gear

I wrote a post a while back about a cheap 3/4 guitar I fell in love with at The Guitar Store. I still play that guitar (I actually now own 3 of them) and lately I have been finding more awesome small gear that I wanted to share with you. (I’m still looking for a really nice 3/4 guitar with a nut width about 38mm, and I’ll keep you posted when I find it.) Continue reading

The Guitarists of Seattle University

unnamed-20When you walk through campus at the beginning of the school year at Seattle University, you’ll see a lot of guitars. Besides the fact that the guitar is one of the most popular instruments in the world, Seattle University is located on Capitol Hill, one of the Northwest’s most active music and art scenes. It makes sense why there are so many great guitarists here!

What To Get Your Guitar Playing Dad For Father’s Day

unnamed-35Around this time of year, I receive emails from some of my students’ families. They ask for Father’s Day gift suggestions for their guitar playing dads/husbands. I know my students well, so it is fairly easy to offer advice that I know will hit the mark. I have created a list  of some of my students’s favorite gifts they have received from family and friends. I hope this helps you shoppers get started, and fathers, message me if you’d like me to add a piece of your favorite guitar gear to the list! Continue reading

Improve Rhythm Accuracy And Time on Guitar

unnamed-65There are a lot of things guitar students need to practice, but being able to play in time is one of the most important. Audiences will forgive a few wrong notes but they can’t forgive bad time! (Because if you can’t dance to it…)

While some people seem to have a great natural sense of time, a lot of folks really struggle to find the beat and keep it, and simply practicing with a metronome sometimes isn’t enough. If you can’t do play in time, it’s going to be impossible to lock in with other musicians and play music that you (and other people) want to hear. Continue reading

How To Create Effective Music Studio Policies

unnamed-64Every business deals with customers who don’t pay their bills, and self-employed music teachers can be significantly impacted when this happens in their studios. Because many musicians earn their living by teaching lessons, it’s important for them to have solid tuition policies in place. Continue reading

It’s Time To Get Serious About Guitar

unnamed-62A big part of my job as a guitar teacher is to evaluate each student’s playing ability and understanding of music on the guitar. When I know where students are and where they want to go, I can create a plan to help them reach their goals. I thought it would be beneficial to create a short quiz to help guitarists see where their strengths and weaknesses are, and I thought I’d start with something fun. Continue reading

What Should You Charge for Teaching Guitar Lessons?

unnamed-61If you are new to teaching guitar lessons or you want to stay competitive, it’s important to evaluate your service and decide on an hourly rate that makes sense for you and your students. Business savvy folks will tell you to simply charge as much as you can so your schedule stays full. I encourage you to think about your location, value, and your competition as you calculate your hourly rate for private music lessons.

Deciding on a rate and implementing a new fee structure may seem like a stressful guessing game but when you understand the important factors, you will feel more confident now and you will know how to grow professionally so you can increase your rates in the future. Continue reading

How To Create An Effective Practice Plan

unnamed-40You know you’ve got a good practice plan when you look forward to your practice sessions, you notice progress, and you feel a sense of accomplishment after you complete your session. Every music teacher will tell you that quality daily practice is important, so let’s make a practice plan that works for you! Continue reading

Why Aren’t You A Good Guitar Player?

unnamed-39Many guitarists tell me they practice every day but they are not satisfied with their rate of improvement. Most of those people just don’t understand what a good practice plan should look and feel like. Once you have a good plan in place and a good teacher to help you, you will be shocked at how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time. Continue reading

Small Guitars for Women and Kids

unnamed-60It’s true that female guitarists have a hard time finding good guitars. I’d probably own 10 guitars if I could find guitars that fit me. I’m about 5’5″ and my hands are proportional, but I’ve had some injuries that were at least partially caused by playing guitars that were too big for me. I’ve been playing and teaching guitar full time for over 15 years, and I know that most female guitarists would benefit by playing a guitar (or guitars!) that actually fit them. Continue reading

What to Expect at Your First Guitar Lesson

unnamed-58You will probably be very excited to begin your guitar lessons. Your teacher is also excited to meet you and learn more about you so that she/he can adapt to your learning style and help you reach your goals. At your first lesson, your teacher will most likely take inventory of your current playing level and experience, talk about your daily practice routine, and help you with your posture and hand position.  Continue reading

Understanding Your Guitar Teacher’s Lesson Policies

unnamed-57Guitar instructors email their rates, payment plans, cancellation/rescheduling lessons, and other information about their studios before you meet for your first lesson. Read through the information as soon as you receive it and call the teacher right away if you have a question. Many teachers ask the person who is responsible for lesson payment to sign her/his name to agree to the teacher’s policies. Continue reading

Are Webcam Guitar Lessons Effective?

unnamed-56Many teachers are now offering webcam guitar lessons to attract more students. Some of the teachers who offer webcam lessons are not, in my opinion, good or qualified teachers. At the least, some teachers are not selling themselves or their services accurately.  Continue reading

Should You Take Group or Private Lessons?

unnamed-53Most people who get a guitar are very excited to learn how to play, and the internet seems like a great place to find help. But there is too much information online and no plan or accountability, so it doesn’t take long to realize that you need a good guitar teacher if you are serious about learning. For a lot of folks, the next decision involves choosing between individual lessons, or group lessons. I don’t think that one method is better than the other. It depends on the teacher, your learning style, and your goals. Continue reading

Guitar Lessons for Kids

unnamed-44I am lucky to share studio space with other good teachers, but it still shocks me when I see parents drop their young children off for music lessons with a teacher who is pretty much a stranger to them. Lesson studios are typically very small private rooms, and a person doesn’t need any special training or certification to call her/himself a guitar teacher. So who is your guitar teacher? Has the school or studio completed a background check on your teacher? Most do not.
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Are Guitar Lessons Worth the Money?

unnamed-54I’m sure you know of someone who has never taken guitar lessons but who can captivate an audience. That’s because a lot of people learn how to play the guitar by ear and “feel.” There are only a handful of shapes and patterns you need to know in order to play hundreds of songs, so if you learn the feel and sound of those shapes and patterns, you can play a lot of music on the guitar without knowing a lot about music.

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Should You Learn on Acoustic or Electric Guitar?

unnamed-50I suggest beginning guitarists learn to play on an electric guitar because electric guitars are easier to play, and in the beginning, you need all the help you can get! I make an exception for a person who loves acoustic guitar and only wants to play acoustic guitar music. Remember, you can always play acoustic guitar after first learning on an electric guitar.

Some people tell me they want to learn on an acoustic guitar specifically because acoustic guitars are harder to play, but the guitar is already hard to play. Do you really want more discouraging challenges that take extra time to overcome, or do you want to have fun playing your favorite songs and building solid transferable skills? Continue reading

What Should You Study to Become a Good Guitarist?

unnamed-51It’s undeniable that you need to master the fundamentals of music in order to reach your full potential on the guitar. What are the fundamentals of music that are important for guitarists to study, and what is the best way to learn them? Let’s take a look. Continue reading