Frequently Asked Questions

What is 7th Fret Guitar Studios?
7th Fret Guitar Studios specializes in teaching children (ages 5 -18) how to play the guitar. Our specially planned curriculum is geared toward teaching small groups (2 - 4 students per class) grouped by age and ability. We do teach adults, often privately, but spaces and times are limited due to our specialty in instructing groups. Please inquire about private lessons and rates.

Who is 7th Fret Guitar Studios?
Darin Au, a composer, guitarist, and teacher, wrote and organized the curriculum used at 7th Fret. He holds a Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas, a highly regarded College of Music. He has taught guitar full-time since 1996. All of our teachers in the 7th Fret family are well-qualified. All of our instructors have been trained and use the 7th Fret curriculum.  They understand the flexibility it allows to personalize the instruction for our students.  Our instructors receive annual reviews and updated training. Read the instructor bios page.

What do students learn at 7th Fret?
Most of our students come to us as complete beginners. Some have musical experience, while others come to us having never played music. We teach students how to play chords, read music, improvise rock solos, and play with proper technique. Our students perform in at least two recitals a year and more advanced students will play in public venues. Outside of class, some of our students form their own bands, play in masterclasses by highly regarded guitarists, and write and arrange their own music. View a student performance.

Do you teach classical, rock, or jazz?
We teach a general approach to the guitar. Our students learn techniques used in all styles of guitar playing. We celebrate the fact you can play classical guitar at a wedding in the afternoon and go on to play electric guitar in a hard rock band later that evening!

What kind of guitar do I need?
Although some students learn to play on electric guitars, we highly recommend that students learn on a nylon string guitar. We have seen the best results when students use a nylon string guitar in their lessons and later (12 months or more) go on to purchase other types of guitars (electric, steel string, 12 string, etc.). The reason is nylon string guitars are easy to play and it's easy to teach good technique with this type of guitar. Plus, nylon string guitars for beginners are very inexpensive ($100-$200) compared to another type of guitar of equal quality. Look at these photos to identify a nylon string guitar. Notice, in the top photo, the headstock is slotted; that is, the strings go down into a hollow portion in the headstock (where the tuners are located). Also, notice (bottom) the strings are tied at the bridge. And, of course, the strings should be nylon (3 plastic & 3 metal strings wound around a nylon core.) We also have quality Cordoba brand guitars for purchase along with a generous no-risk return policy. Please let us know if you need to purchase one of our guitars and we can send you detailed information.

My child is very young. Can he use a full-sized guitar?
We definitely recommend young students use child-sized nylon string guitars. In our years of experience, we've seen students frustrated by guitars that were too big for them. One common misconception is that people (parents & salespeople) say the child will grow into the guitar. Imagine trying to play basketball in a shoe that is too large by a size or two. To properly measure your child for a guitar, stand the guitar next to your child. It should measure from the floor to his hip. Generally, any student under 5' tall should use a child-size guitar. Note: The design for the modern guitar was created for the average adult male living in Spain in the 1800's. He was 5' 6".

Should my child learn piano or ukulele first? Maybe she can play guitar later.
We have had students come to us after playing other instruments and they do well in guitar lessons. In fact, Darin learned to play two instruments before learning guitar. However, we have seen young students (ages 5 - 7) play the guitar well into their teens and they are far ahead of their peers who began at age 10 or older. Since our students learn to read music, they learn music theory, are exposed to classical music, and experience many of the benefits that classically trained piano students receive. In addition, they also learn how to improvise and play by ear, something that is sometimes overlooked in strictly classical lessons. Many students find musical success having the guitar as their only instrument.

Why do you teach students in small groups?
It has been our experience that beginning and intermediate students taught in groups (2 - 4 students per class), using our method, progress at the same rate as students taught privately. As an added bonus, students learning in groups gain better listening and rhythm skills than those taught in strictly private lessons. Learning in groups also exposes students to realistic musical situations since most musicians play with others (rock bands, chamber ensembles, orchestras) as opposed to playing solo. In addition, our students do learn to play solo guitar and often perform solos in recitals. Some of our serious, advanced students take private lessons in addition to their weekly group lessons.  For a more detailed explanation, click here.

What is the tuition for group lessons?
As of September 2015, tuition is $75 a month for group lessons. Lessons meet once a week for 30 minutes (2 to 4 students per class). We offer a sibling rate of $75/mo. for the first child and $60 per month for each child after that. You qualify for the sibling rate if you sign up more than one of your children with 7th Fret. These rates are subject to change with 30 days written notice. It is important you read our studio policies before signing up for lessons.

Where are the lessons taught?
We are located in an office building across the street from Safeway and Times Supermarket on Beretania Street. The cross streets are Keeaumoku Street and Piikoi. This location is close to many city bus lines and several blocks away from Ala Moana Center. Please click on the location link for directions.

What is the meaning of your name, 7th Fret Guitar Studios?
Classically trained guitarists view the 7th fret on the guitar as being in the middle of the neck. Classical guitarists often mark the neck of the guitar at the 7th fret so they have a point of reference. We chose 7th Fret as the name of our teaching studio because we see the 7th Fret as "home base". It's also a gateway to the higher frets (metaphor for advanced concepts!).

How do I sign up for lessons?
We generally start new classes in January, June, and September. If we have enough students ready to start a new class and we have a time slot available, then we will start a class in other months.   Try to let us know one month in advance of these dates if you wish to start lessons.  Fill out the contact form on the right side of our home page or call (988-7074).

© 7th Fret Guitar Studios 2016