How To Get Started Teaching Guitar - 5 Things You Need To Know And Do

If you want to teach guitar, then it's critically important to know what the most important steps are to becoming the best teacher you can be.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
0

If you want to teach guitar, then it's critically important to know what the most important steps are to becoming the best teacher you can be. Many people who have been teaching guitar for a long time don't know all 5 of the important things you are now going to learn about how to teaching guitar.

Like most people, when I started teaching guitar I also didn't know much about how to teach well. I thought, because I was a good guitar player, that I would be able to teach well. That was false. In my first 10 years of teaching I had taught thousands of guitar lessons and thought I was really good. Fact is, like most guitar teachers, I was only mediocre. Over the next 10 years of my teaching, I finally began to learn the most effective ways to consistently help guitar students progress to very high skill levels in shorter periods of time.

Here are 5 things you should know and do when getting started teaching guitar.

1. The first (and most important) step in learning to teach guitar is to 'care' more about guitar students than any other guitar teacher in your area will. This alone makes a huge difference in the results that your students will get from you compared to what they could get from anyone else.

2. Great guitar teachers do not teach guitar... They teach 'people'. What is the difference? If you teach 'guitar', your approach is to think about the technical, musical and philosophical ways of showing someone how to play a guitar. Fact is, your students don't want to learn to play guitar. They want to learn 'how to feel' a certain way when they pick up a guitar and play (or try to play). They not only want to learn how to get these feelings in the future when they can play well, they want to also feel it right now. They want to love the way it 'feels' to enjoy the process of learning. When you really focus on that, then you begin to realize you are not teaching guitar, you are teaching people.

Teaching 'guitar' is more about explaining or demonstrating various aspects of guitar playing, music theory, etc. Teaching 'people' is all about 'solving problems', developing a specific strategic path to the specific goals they have, supporting them and keeping them motivated in the process of their development.

3. Surround yourself with other EXPERT guitar teachers. There are 2 common mistakes most guitar teachers make. Either they don't surround themselves with other guitar teachers at all, or 2. they surround themselves with other guitar teachers who are not true expert teachers who get big results for their students and have very successful guitar teaching businesses. Surround yourself with experienced expert guitar teachers who know how to 'successfully' handle the same situations that you might be struggling with.

4. Learn to balance patience and expectations. Everyone knows that to be a good guitar teacher one must have a lot of patience. What most don't know is how to balance patience with expectations. Your students' learning progress is heavily influenced not only by what you teach them, but on what you expect from them. If you fail to consistently communicate higher expectations for your students, most of them will progress slowly. You need to push them a little with realistic, but high expectations while at the same time being supportive and patient.

5. Don't settle for being 'good enough'... Sadly, many guitar teachers think it is 'ok' to be 'good enough'. Do you want your doctor, accountant, or your auto mechanic to be 'good enough'? Or do you want these people to be the best they can be in order to serve you better? It's unethical to not be as good as you know you can be. I'm not suggesting that you need to have an advanced music degree from a university, nor that you need to be a great guitarist before you can begin teaching guitar. All guitar instructors have to start from 'somewhere', but once you get started teaching, you owe it to your current and future guitar students to constantly be learning how to become a better guitar teacher. Your students expect and deserve this from you... and you deserve it for yourself.

Get guitar teacher training.

To get started, check out my 15 tips for guitar teachers.

About the author: Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, professional touring guitarist and recording artist. He teaches, trains and mentors guitar teachers from around the world. Get more highly effective guitar teaching resources.

Tom Hess Music Corporation. All Rights reserved.

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    bender424
    Great tips in there, I'm about to teach a little girl how to play chords so she can sing along. Keep on the good work.
    KG6_Steven
    Nice article. I recently started teaching guitar lessons on the weekend. A lot of what you've written makes good sense. Regarding #2, I like to think of myself as more of a conduit to learning. I can teach the techniques, basics and theory, but it's up to the student to take the material presented in that lesson and apply it. Some students will completely digest the material and shine, while some will fail to apply the material and fail to master the guitar. Good job.
    D.I.R.T.
    I think a better way to phrase number 2 is "Teach students to teach themselfs" a guitar teacher can't give away all his skills and stradegies in a 30 minute session but he can give his student the knowledge and drive to be able to figure stuff out on their own. It's important to have a balance of teaching 'guitar' and teaching 'students'... really, its just an effective way of doing what public schools fail to do, teach kids to learn.
    drmcclainphd
    These have nothing to do with teaching guitar. Not specifically anyway. They have to do with being a teacher, period. I'd gotten perfect evaluation scores from my students in my neuroscience labs. The regular faculty wanted to know how. I wrote them someone very much like these 5 items. I also added "Do not do hoops" meaning no senseless busy work. Also, "this is a real lab, we do real work, and we all work together", which doesn't translate to teaching. Until you decide to put on as recitation with your students.
    mrddrm
    I agree. I'm actually studying how to be a music educator and most of this is more offensive than helpful or anything else. I agree with several points. But they aren't "teaching." Most educators, in my opinion, should not be teaching. It comes up more so within the music world, but this is just my opinion. Every person who can play a note on any one instrument think they can teach. This is not the case!
    BobBlunn
    Good input Tom! It takes more than theory and technical expertise to make a great teacher! Thanks for sharing & Jam ON! -BB
    carpincowboy
    sounds like my guitar teacher nows thiese tips. i usually get between 1,1/2 o 2 hours lesson but pay for a 1 hour lesson and he`s cheap too. awesome.
    Faenivoldsk
    Vabolo wrote: Wait, where's the Tom Hess bashing bandwagon?
    What the hell is this bashing bandwagon? I guess you're writing about those people who think they have it all figured out but actually don't.
    Faenivoldsk
    drmcclainphd wrote: These have nothing to do with teaching guitar. Not specifically anyway. They have to do with being a teacher, period. I'd gotten perfect evaluation scores from my students in my neuroscience labs. The regular faculty wanted to know how. I wrote them someone very much like these 5 items. I also added "Do not do hoops" meaning no senseless busy work. Also, "this is a real lab, we do real work, and we all work together", which doesn't translate to teaching. Until you decide to put on as recitation with your students.
    Do you mind developing your thoughts? What Mr. Hess wrote is not about teaching, in your opinion?
    DimebagZappa
    Faenivoldsk wrote: drmcclainphd wrote: These have nothing to do with teaching guitar. Not specifically anyway. They have to do with being a teacher, period. I'd gotten perfect evaluation scores from my students in my neuroscience labs. The regular faculty wanted to know how. I wrote them someone very much like these 5 items. I also added "Do not do hoops" meaning no senseless busy work. Also, "this is a real lab, we do real work, and we all work together", which doesn't translate to teaching. Until you decide to put on as recitation with your students. Do you mind developing your thoughts? What Mr. Hess wrote is not about teaching, in your opinion?
    What hes saying is that it not about teaching just guitar. Its a great lesson for all teachers. And no busy work!
    butlersdog
    I guess when you have some good [url=http://takelessons.com/category/guitar-l... teachers[/url] here, and you would be having a lot of things in common, then that would be great in order to teach others as well. In that way, you learn and give knowledge to other people in order to really gain a lot for your needs.