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Being a Good Guitar Teacher

Even though you are still in the learning process, (when are we ever done learning?!), you may want to supplement your income and improve your own skills by teaching some guitar. I have always enjoyed teaching right from the moment that it seemed like I even knew anything to pass along, and I have always found it to be an enriching and rewarding experience. In a funny way, I have always found that being a self-taught musician somehow always made me better at imparting this knowledge on to others, as I was always able to “read” the student better, and understand their own unique approach to the guitar, as well as their special requirements and needs.

This is really the key to being a good teacher, as you must be able to “tune in” to what will be the most important elements that will help your student improve his or her skills to the maximum benefit. In terms of what you must “tune” in to, there are several things to keep in mind: First, what is the student’s attention span like? It can be very frustrating for a teacher to work with someone who thinks

They ought to be there in the chair opposite you, learning, but yet, who can’t sit still or focus on what you have to say. Make sure you maintain your patience and your cool, and wait until you really feel you have their attention before you proceed. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you have to constantly “motivate” your student! Secondly, you should take note of their weaknesses and strengths. For example, you may have a fairly advanced player there with you, but it may turn out that they do a bad job of muting strings, and that this may be a big factor that is holding them back. Or they may have no idea how to get the right vibrato…I can recall a student I had many, many years ago, who insisted that he not continue learning anything else until he was able to really nail the same kind of expressive vibrato I had. That was a real eye-opener, as I had witnessed a student who was so absolutely sure of what he wanted, it didn’t matter how many expensive lessons he had to pay for….he simply would not go any further until he had that “sound” he really wanted out of that vibrato!

One must always be able to adapt to their student’s particular needs. I always like to tell my students that their lessons are truly “customized’ for them, which is very true. I never stick to some pre-planned outline in how to work with them; instead, I listen and watch carefully to see what information takes hold and what falls through the cracks. Also, simply knowing and tuning in to a student’s particular tastes is also critical, and sometimes it’s really nice to open up new doors of appreciation for them in terms of what they may like. Believe me, I’ve turned many a metal “shredder” into a lover of Country string-bending! So, just remember, teaching is also learning, and you will always benefit just as much from your giving lessons, as your student will from taking them!


Posted: 5/27/2010 3:11:55 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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