Inga Hope is passionate about music. As the founder of Gentle Guitar, an online music education program for kids ages 5-16, she is sharing her passion with students.
“I have always loved music. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a singer,” Hope says. But she wasn’t able to develop her talent until adulthood, because Hope struggled to find the right fit in an instructor.
To help ensure children don’t have to wait until they grow up to reach their potential, Hope decided to found her own school.
“Gentle Guitar is basically the school of my dreams. It’s the school I wish I had as a kid,” she says. This “mini modern college of music for kids,” which was founded in New Zealand, is based on the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. The goal is to offer music lessons for kids that are fun, modern and professional.
Thanks to technology, lessons are done remotely — live and in real time. There’s no need to travel to a private tutor’s home or specific location for a class, and that’s especially important as families across the globe are staying safe at home to help flatten the coronavirus curve. For students who don’t typically have access to music education, even prior to the coronavirus outbreak, this virtual learning opportunity fills in a gap in exposure to music education.
Through Skype or Zoom, Hope teaches students how to play the guitar, but the experience extends beyond playing chords.
“We don’t just teach music. We teach a work ethic and attitude through music that will serve kids for life,” Hope says. “Music is the perfect training platform to learn about learning and to fall in love learning.”
Read on for more about this innovative approach to music education.
A personalized and specialized approach
A while back, the mom of one of Hope’s students reached out for advice. Her daughter wanted to abandon her guitar lessons to return to learning to play the piano.
“I said, ‘You know what I think? I think that Sophie is restless. She’s very impatient and she’s going to go back to piano, and then in three weeks she’s going to want to learn something else because she doesn’t have the work ethic, and the problem is that she needs to really focus,'” Hope says.
She asked Sophie’s mom to sit on in the next lesson with the 11-year-old, so mom obliged.
“I asked the girl to teach her mom how to play the guitar. Everything changed. Her attitude changed,” she says. Everything Hope was trying to tell her that she couldn’t hear or process, the young girl was now teaching her mom — all the information had registered in her subconscious.
“We took a child who lacked a work ethic and turned it around, and now we are actually working to build her work ethic,” Hope explains.
This student, in particular, is going to be writing her own songs in no time, Hope says. And how often do children get the chance to write songs and have those songs produced by a professional music producer? At Gentle Guitar, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is offered regularly to students who excel with their lessons.
Taking a class
From the comfort of your home, your child can have a live, one-on-one lesson with specialized instruction. All you need is an internet connection, web camera and Skype or Zoom account — and, for kids ages 9-16, a guitar. Kids ages 5-8 don’t need a guitar for the first free lesson.
For kids ages 5-10, a parent must be present during each lesson. These lessons are just like any video conference call, which allows the instructor to watch your child in real-time and provide any feedback or instruction on the spot. These lessons last 30 minutes. Families from all over the world can sign up for a free trial lesson.
While Hope says some parents question how much an instructor can actually see during a video conference call, she points out that specialized instructors — like Hope and her team of three additional teachers — can see more than you’d realize.
“Just because there’s a screen doesn’t mean it’s so impersonal,” Hope says.
Establishing a connection is key to each student’s success, and it’s an important component of this unique music school.
“Parents can book a free trial lesson, and I meet the child and the parent on Skype or Zoom and offer a full introduction to the program and answer all questions about learning music free of charge — plus kids get to sample the tuition for free,” she says. Book through Gentle Guitar’s online calendar.