Becoming a good guitar teacher requires the perfect combination of education, intuition, and practice, and a big part of being a good teacher is knowing what NOT to do. When you avoid common guitar teaching mistakes, from overloading your students to not tracking progress, not only do you become a better teacher, but your students become better guitar players. Whether you lack long-term students or you just feel like you need some work, here are a few of the most obvious mistakes every music teacher should do their best to avoid.
Overloading Your Students
It’s easy to sit down and try to teach your students everything you know, but you need to understand that they’re beginners and even the easiest chord or technique can seem daunting. Don’t teach your guitar students brand new concepts every week. Instead, spend time reviewing, mastering, and applying principles they’ve already learned. Once you’re sure your student has picked up on the concept and is ready to move on, incorporate something new into their lesson plan—without forgetting about the old stuff. After a while, lessons should include a good mix of old principles and new concepts.
Teaching Exclusively Through Songs
If the only thing your guitar students are learning is how to play songs, it’s time for you to rethink your lesson strategy. All music is built on music theory, and it’s something every serious musician should have a basic understand of. Focus on developing your students’ general guitar playing and theory skills, and encourage them to put these theories to practice via songs. Plus, learning music theory and becoming a well-rounded musician is something a YouTube video can’t provide your students–learning how to learn a specific song is.
Not Tracking Progress
Tracking the progress of your guitar students not only helps them become better guitar players, but it helps you become a better teacher. Without tracking their progress, you’d have no idea what they need to learn from you in order to reach their goals. And at the end of the day, a teacher without a plan isn’t a very effective one. From the perspective of your students, tracking progress shows them that you’re making their success a priority, and being able to measure that success is proof that you are a good teacher. Continually check in with your students and ask them how they feel about their progress, and adjust your lesson plans accordingly.
Teaching Every Student the Same Way
Don’t use cookie-cutter guitar teaching methods with your students, unless they are total beginners. Instead, invite your students to show you what they already know, and you can evaluate their skill and comprehension level. Next, craft a music lesson plan that fits their needs and will help them reach their desired goals. No single teaching method works equally well across the board, so you may have to adjust your style or method on a student-by-student basis. Design personalized strategies to fit the unique needs of your students–it’s one of the easiest ways to turn the “here for right now” students into long-term ones.
Not Getting to Know Your Students
Sure, getting to know your student’s skill level and desired goals is important, but so is getting to know them on a personal level. As a guitar teacher, you aren’t just teaching music–you’re teaching people, and those people have names, faces, and unique backgrounds. Your students need to feel that you understand them and can relate to them on a personal level, otherwise you run the risk of them moving on and finding a teacher who does. Find out who or what inspires them to learn guitar, and find ways to incorporate it into your lesson plan.
Not Motivating Your Students to Practice
Last but not least, your students will not progress if they are not practicing, and if they aren’t progressing it will reflect poorly on you. Some guitar teachers mistakenly believe that this is the responsibility of the parents–after all, they’re the ones who are at home with the student when they should be practicing, right? Wrong. There are plenty of ways guitar teachers can motivate their students to practice, including through rewards and friendly competition. If you have friends who are also teachers, consider meeting with them once a month to discuss how to motivate your students to practice and play, among other items on this list.
For more educator articles, check out the Educator Resources section of our blog!