The right hand in “Rainbow Guitar”

In my own teaching, I use a variety of approaches to the right hand – as my pupils have quite a range of backgrounds and needs. But when I wrote the Rainbow Guitar book,  I had to decide on a specific approach to the right hand for young beginners, and in the end I chose an approach which I had seen in some older tutor books, particularly in Germany and Switzerland. This involves starting with “thumb only” and sticking to this single right hand technique while the basic fingerboard knowledge and solfeggio are being absorbed. Then the index, middle and ring fingers are introduced – one by one and using the free stroke initially.

I think there is a place for a contemporary tutor book which uses this approach. One big advantage is that the resulting plucking style is universal to all kinds of guitar playing. It allows the pupil to learn and explore the instrument without having to take a specifically classical or non-classical path from the outset.

Flashcards rock!

The Rainbow Guitar books give you a simple, powerful strategy to help with those early stages of note reading on the guitar. But pupils move on, and sooner or later you are going to need some new strategies. In order to access other guitar books, and the wider world of guitar music, learners will need to get used to reading those plain old black notes sooner or later.

The new Rainbow Guitar Note Flashcards offer a fun and flexible way Continue reading

Theory worksheets for Rainbow Guitar

There is a set of theory worksheets for Rainbow Guitar, as a free download on this site.

There are five worksheets in all, closely following the progression of the book. Pupils can do them as revision or consolidation, and also to develop the skill of reading good old plain black notes (essential of course in order to move on to other, more advanced guitar books and music).

All the worksheets feature a range of tasks:

  • making the link to the coloured notes in the book
  • making the link to tablature and fingerboard drawings (and other ways of writing the fingering in guitar music)
  •  learning to read the notes without any of these aids
  • thinking about rhythm and metre as well as pitch recognition

Starting with the thumb …

If you look at modern classical guitar tutor books, the majority start with fingers plucking the upper strings 1, 2, and 3 (thumb resting).

I have also seen one or two tutor books that start at the other end with the pupil plucking with thumb on strings 6, 5, and 4 (fingers resting).

There are good arguments in favour of either of the above approaches. Personally I have come to favour starting with the thumb, as Continue reading

What are the colours all about?

Here are seven notes written on the musical stave (you can make them bigger if you like, by clicking on the image):


Whether you read music or not, you can immediately see a musical shape here, rising steadily from low to high. If you do read music, you will identify the notes immediately as D, E, G, A, B, C, D. If you play an instrument at any level you will probably be able to play these notes as soon as you see them on the stave, with almost no conscious thought. If you have had the training, you may be able to sing them at sight, or hear them in your head without sounding them at all. The stave system is simple, elegant, and rather beautiful. Above all, it is intuitive – in fact so intuitive that as soon as you have “got it”, you find it quite hard to get inside the head of someone who “doesn’t get it”!

However, if you have ever taught a beginner Continue reading