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My name is Mike Ellis. I teach guitar, piano, bass, and banjo in my teaching studio in Lake Highlands. I tell all of my students that I never practiced, I played. It sounded terrible at first, but the more I played, the better it sounded. The reason kids want to play an instrument varies, but they all want to have fun and they all love music. I advise them to play with their instrument (their new toy) twice per day, no matter how long each time.

There is a famous guitarist named Jose Feliciano who wanted to perform the Christmas song, "The Little Drummer Boy" for Christmas and he wanted to get the sound of a snare drum on his guitar. He finally achieved this by twisting the two top strings on his guitar and pressing them down together, then picking them both. Voila! It sounded like a snare drum. He used this to introduce the song. You have to realize that Mr. Feliciano did not achieve this sound by practicing. He achieved it by experimenting and playing with his guitar. I should also point out that this famous guitarist is blind. I encourage my students to "goof around" with their guitars, see what kind of sounds they can make. Although I couldn't find the version of "The Little Drummer Boy" on YouTube, I did find an example. Go to and fast forward to 2:37 to see him make the drum sound.

On the first lesson for guitar, I tell the students that just sitting with their guitar is "practicing." Just being with your instrument, holding it, getting used to it and how it feels, is the first step in getting comfortable with it. And parents, please nurture your child's interest, instead of forcing them to practice. You'll find out soon enough if they are really interested in playing music. Sure it takes work and I did plenty of that, but I was always working on trying to be able to play a certain thing. They go and play with their friends, they play video games. Encourage them to play with their instrument.

Mike Ellis Music Instruction


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