The Suzuki Guitar Method uses a nylon string guitar. These are also known as Spanish Guitars or Classical Guitars and are a great choice for beginners. Nylon strings have much less tension than a steel string guitar and are much easier on the fingers. One of the easiest ways to tell if a if a guitar is a nylon string instrument is to look at the three thinnest strings on the guitar – on a steel string they will be made of metal and on a nylon string instrument they will be made of a clear or black plastic. Unfortunately, the guitars are built differently so it is not possible to change the strings from metal to nylon. I am more than happy to help students select an appropriate instrument. The guitars in the picture are a Cordoba “Guilele” ($120) which is a great instrument for students age 4-7, a New World 48 cm guitar (($495) great for students 7-10, and a full size custom instrument (great for students who have completed book 9!).
Other things that are needed for guitar lessons are a tuner, footstool, and stool. Tuners are affordable and easy to get on Amazon and they even clip onto the instrument. Footstools help lift the neck of the guitar up giving the hands better access to the neck and are also available on Amazon. A stool is also a critical item for practicing the guitar. Ideally, a student’s legs should be close to parallel with the ground. If a student’s legs are slanted down it makes balancing the instrument very tough. My youngest students use a stool. Students age 6-12 usually will use an adjustable drum throne until they are tall enough for padded chair of some kind.
The repertoire for the Suzuki Guitar Method consists of may different types of music. Initially students will learn pieces that are in the Suzuki Violin method (Twinkle, Lightly Row, French Folk Song, Go Tell Aunt Rhody etc). After that there are many different types of pieces that are in the Method including renaissance lute pieces which are a lot of fun to play and a special part of the repertoire because there is very little piano or violin repertoire from this era which makes it something that is somewhat exclusive to guitars. Another type of music that is common in the method that is also strongly identified to the guitar is music from around Latin America including Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. Transcriptions of pieces by well known composers, especially Bach. And of course there are also many pieces in the method of composers who composed for the guitar. These composers were very often peers of Mozart and Beethoven. In addition to the Suzuki repertoire, I enjoy creating my own arrangements of pieces for guitar ensemble that we can work on in group class. In the past my students have performed music by The Beatles, the theme to The Legend of Zelda, and a suite of well known theme songs from movies.