An Easy and Fun Way to Tune Your Class
One of the most fun ways to tune is with the video at the top of this blog post. This video, called “Tuning Pitches,” is also found in the video library that comes with every course in the Consonus courseware library. When the video is played you can hear each string played individually twelve times and you can see the string that is being played vibrate. The fun part is that each individual string is heard one at a time out the left channel. Out the right channel, you can hear a rhythm guitar playing a chord that goes with the open string. You can also hear drums and bass out the right channel. When the open stings are played with the chords, bass, and drums, tuning actually sounds like a song. The channels can be heard together, or one side or the other can be panned out. This helps train the student’s ears to match not only the open string, but match the pitch of the open string to a harmony part. Great care was taken to find the chords that would sound best with the open note so the student’s ears can be trained to tune pitches to a harmony part. This process works and the track can even be used as a beginning number in a recital.
Let’s talk in a little more detail about why and when you need to tune your guitar as well as other methods to tune your guitar…and all the guitars in your class.
When do you need to tune your guitar?
There are many reasons the guitar will go out of tune including: new strings (it takes them a while to stretch in), temperature changes, bouncing around, playing the guitar, and probably the most common…students messing with the machine heads. Regardless of the reason your guitar goes out of tune, you should check it each time you play it, and your students should check the tuning the first of every class.
You do it first
Before students learn how to tune the guitar, the teacher will probably tune each guitar for the first while. To make this process go quick and easy, there are several “tricks” to help. Using a tuner makes a real short cut. Clamp on/headstock tuners are lifesavers. There are several brands out there that work well. I’ve had tremendous success with the Planet Waves tuners. They are simple and accurate. Each time the teacher takes one of the student’s guitars, put the tuner on and quickly goes through each string. The teacher could also quickly tune the guitar by matching fretted notes to open strings. In the Consonus courseware, every course has a supplemental video library with a section called “Tuning a Guitar,” the video called “Tuning the Guitar to Itself” shows how this is done. The teacher could also tune one student’s guitar and then have that student play the individual open strings on their guitar as the teacher tunes each guitar in the class. This “beacon” approach works pretty well. As well as matching open strings to fretted notes, the teacher could tune open strings to octaves. For example, tune the first string, open and the second string, open. Then, tune the third string open, to the first string, third fret. Tune the fourth string open, to the second string, third fret…and so on.
Have the Students Tune Their Own Guitars
Eventually, it’s crucial for the students to learn to tune their own guitars. There are several methods they could be taught. One method would be to have the students tune their guitar to one student who has his/her guitar in tune (this is the beacon approach mentioned earlier). Another method is to have the students learn to match open strings to fretted notes (most every guitar method shows how this can be done). One of the best and most accurate methods of tuning is to have the students use clamp-on headstock tuners. They are very user friendly, and if every student in the class has one, tuning takes place very quickly. If every student does not have a tuner, maybe there could be a few used as a classroom set that could be shared.
All of these approaches will help get the class in tune and will speed up the tuning process so that tuning doesn’t have to take half of the class period.