ßamßamßam
would love a sandwich
Join date: Sep 2012
149 IQ
#1
Hi all!

If on the off chance you've seen either my introductory post or the one yesterday where I requested help with a song - you'll know that I'm admittedly somewhat amateur, in that I don't know much theory. Regardless, everyone I know in real life scolds me for my overall modesty regarding guitar, insisting that I am a rather good player - even if I'm not much of a "knower"

Right now I'm trying to find what I need to bridge the gap between my ability to play and my limited understanding of "theory". This is not only for personal growth and development as a guitar player, but also because I'd like to start teaching beginners, specifically children. I've been feeling more and more lately, and you can take this with a grain of new-age-salt, that the universe simply isn't going to allow me to flourish in the normal 9-5 sense that is commonplace in the country I was born and raised (US). I've made some mistakes in my life, my work history looks like swiss cheese, and every single personality/aptitude test you can direct me to seems to indicate artistic endeavors are where my heart lies, and I'm inclined to agree. Additionally, children love me! I think this is because I really do respect them for where they are in life - it's not easy being a kid, as much as adults might want to think so, and I think I am quite permanently in touch with my inner child.

I want to do this RIGHT, though. In fact I've already realized I'm going to have to correct some of my own shortcomings in terms of technique (my posture while playing, how I hold a pick, and where my thumb tends to wander to) before I even begin. I've visited teachwombat.com among other sites and am trying to absorb all I can to be the best teacher I can be. My current plan of action, including what I'm going to get to here in a minute, is to develop what I believe will be a fun strategy towards engaging kids in a way and language that speaks to them, and makes learning guitar a joy and not a chore or something their parents are making them do. After I feel I am ready to start passing on what I know to up-and-coming guitarists, I'm going to use a close friend's daughter, who owns an appropriately sized guitar for her size (she's 8), as a guinea pig, and give her lessons for free. After a month or so, I'm going to assess her progress and ability, and know full well that it will be a reflection upon my ability to teach, and not necessarily her ability or inability to learn. If I can conscientiously say that she has made quality progress under my guidance, I will then start attempting to market myself as a guitar teacher - mostly through word of mouth, and will try other avenues to reach new clientele if that is too slow on the uptake. Once I am confident in my own competence, I plan on charging $10/30min once or twice a week to give each student adequate time to absorb/practice concepts without it being a drudgery. I also plan to network with some other more advanced teachers if in the event a student surpasses the level of ability where my guidance is even necessary (ie, the "pupil becomes the master"), so that I can refer them and their parents to them. I have absolutely ZERO intention of dragging out lessons to keep students. I am very certain that both the children and their parents alike will be fond enough of my approach/passion that word-of-mouth referrals will keep me teaching for as long as I wish. I would never put my own need for money over an aspiring artist's need for relevant tutelage.

I'll take a second to thank you for getting this far. Thanks!

Now to the part where I request your help!

What do you think is a good level of theoretical knowledge to possess before I can responsibly market myself as a teacher for beginners/children? Also, where do you think is the best place to start? I was thinking about just picking up a beginner's book and working through it myself to get an idea of what is considered a relative standard among educational publications, but I want to be sure that if an exceptionally bright or gifted student asks me something, that I can adequately answer their questions!

As always, I am very grateful to have access to the great resources and great PEOPLE at UltimeGuitar. Thank you SO much for taking the time to read my post, and any advice you give is hopefully going to go a long way in helping some kids get quality lessons from someone who TRULY wants to be a wonderful first teacher for them

-ßamßamßam

Edit: I made this mistake yesterday, too... I forgot to address the fact that I may have posted this in the wrong area. If that is the case, please let me know and I will try to correct that!
Last edited by ßamßamßam at Sep 15, 2012,
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#2
focus on economy of motion, understand the bare fundamentals. posture, placement, tension, be able to demonstrate and perform general maintenance - a kid will like their crappy $100 squier a hell of a lot more with a proper set-up, and will as such be more eager to learn.

theory doesn't have much to do with it. show them music they want to learn or that is appropriate for their demographic and skill level, and introduce keys, cadences, and intervals as they come up.

it's an incredibly gradual process, and it never gets fast. you could spend a year with a kid barely learning a couple green day songs and not know where C is on the fretboard, and you'll feel like you're cheating them out of their cash, but that's just the way of things. throwing in theory and technical bits are like trying to feed them their vegetables, especially when you're dealing with unmotivated preteens.

as long as you show the kid how to hear, play, and over time understand what's going on in the music, you're doing fine. don't show them modes. don't let them get stuck in box patterns. don't let them think improvisation (read: running up and down scales) is the entire purpose of all their practice time. don't show them modes. any book will work, since you're mostly going to be using them for etudes for warm-up purposes and introducing tablature/sheet music. don't show them modes.

make sure to put more of a focus on rhythm, tone, dynamics than just notes. it's easy when you first find tabs to play off-rhythm, or to not understand where the beat lies - youtube is full of the type. even 5 minutes of clapping to a packet of simple rhythms will do a hell of a lot in developing their abilities. don't show them modes.

remember that musical knowledge is cumulative. the more you can comprehend on a basic level (rhythms, articulation, intervals, timbre/instrumentation), the more you pick up, the more you can eventually comprehend, cyclically growing, so a solid foundation and a fundamental interest in learning is a lot more important than throwing tons of stuff at them, or letting them get the impression that notes are the only aspect of music. don't show them modes.

and most importantly, don't show them modes.
Quote by theogonia777
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Vlasco
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2007
121 IQ
#3
But one of the first things I do when I sit a new e-guitar student down is show them all the modes on the amplifier.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#4
Quote by Vlasco
But one of the first things I do when I sit a new e-guitar student down is show them all the modes on the amplifier.

unacceptable
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
mdc
UG's Mr Chord Man
Join date: Feb 2008
722 IQ
#5
Don't expect too much from your students, like thinking they're gonna practice their nuts off between lessons. Ain't gonna happen.

Occasionally, "one of them" will come along, and I tell you right off the bat that they are a joy to teach.

One more thing, a common mistake when starting out as a teacher is over loading your students with material between lessons. Avoid this by under teaching.

What may seem like something very simple to you will be quite the opposite for them.

Your students should be able to reach their goals by the time the next lesson comes round (a week, usually). The result is that if they reach their goals, they will feel a sense of achievement every time, which in turn keeps their enthusiasm.

Good Luck
KG6_Steven
Eats ponies for breakfast
Join date: Nov 2006
3,132 IQ
#6
That's quite a wall of text there, TS. One of the things I was looking for, but did not read - are you self-taught, or did you take lessons? One of the things I frequently run into are the guys who are self-taught and play fairly well. Unfortunately, they tend to have a lot of bad habits. When they teach, they pass on those bad habits to their students.

My brother is one such example. He's been playing for nearly 30 years and has played in several bands. He's a good player. He's also self-taught. Over the years, he's frequently auditioned for guitar instructor jobs, but has been turned down every time. He has too many bad habits and uses poor technique. Not bragging, but I took lessons for several years and have successfully taught students how to play guitar.

As an hopeful guitar instructor, I think it's important to have a good knowledge of music theory. You don't need to be an expert, but if a student asks a question, you need to be able to answer it.

Personally, I think 8 is a little young to be learning guitar. My minimum age is 10. By the time a child is 10, their fingers are generally long enough to properly fret the neck. Unless the child is extremely motivated, I would say 8 is too young. My own daughter is a prime example of the typical child student. She is 12 and became interested in guitar a couple of years ago. I started giving her lessons, but she'd never practice. She still plays, but I wouldn't say that she's progressed. She was also interested in piano, before getting interested in guitar. She was probably 9 at the time and took piano for a year. She would not practice and soon quit her lessons.

As mdc mentioned, occasionally, "one of them" comes along and it's a real joy and quite rewarding.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#7
Quote by KG6_Steven

My brother is one such example. He's been playing for nearly 30 years and has played in several bands. He's a good player. He's also self-taught. Over the years, he's frequently auditioned for guitar instructor jobs, but has been turned down every time. He has too many bad habits and uses poor technique. Not bragging, but I took lessons for several years and have successfully taught students how to play guitar.


definitely something to consider ^

plus, some people just aren't cut out to teach. there are instructors i've met who i could play circles around, but in the classroom they just have that niche of being able to bring out the best of people, and i understand that i might never have that wonderful talent.

but you really can't know until you've had some more students. you might be an absolutely wonderful teacher, or you might quickly grow to hate it. people seem to think of teaching as a default job within any skillset, as a "fall-back" or a side-project, but it's easy to neglect that it requires its own abilities and has nuances that just might not be within your reach. don't be discouraged if you're just not cut out for it, though, TS, because the experience will help you quite a lot, no matter how much you might be naturally predisposed towards education.
ßamßamßam
would love a sandwich
Join date: Sep 2012
149 IQ
#8
Thanks everyone for the responses. I thought I had this thread set to email me when it was replied to, but I guess I didn't, and because of that I didn't see these in a timely fashion.

Quote by KG6_Steven
That's quite a wall of text there, TS. One of the things I was looking for, but did not read - are you self-taught, or did you take lessons? One of the things I frequently run into are the guys who are self-taught and play fairly well. Unfortunately, they tend to have a lot of bad habits. When they teach, they pass on those bad habits to their students.


I'm sorry, coffee gets me gooooooooing.

I am self-taught, and that's a concern of mine I'd like to address before I sit down with students. It's not enough for me to say, "Don't look at the way I'm doing it, just make sure you do it this other way". I do know many of the places where my technique is 'wrong', and I'm going to sit down with a more advanced teacher that I trust from a neighborhood guitar shop and pay him to do a faux-lesson with me to try to assess all the places I'm 'doing it wrong'. I recognize that I have bad habits, and definitely don't want to pass them on to the little sponges.
Hydra150
cutebutt mcsexyface
Join date: Nov 2006
1,793 IQ
#9
Quote by ßamßamßam
I thought I had this thread set to email me when it was replied to, but I guess I didn't, and because of that I didn't see these in a timely fashion.

Recently, I have this subscription page as a bookmark which I use to access the forums and help keep track of threads I'm interested in; you need to change your profile settings so that you automatically subscribe to threads you post in (and you can subscribe manually to any thread), and they will appear with a yellow icon on that subscription page if you have yet to read the recent posts, and a grey icon if you have read all the posts.


.. don't really have much more than what has already been said to answer your actual question, though


Quote by ßamßamßam
I do know many of the places where my technique is 'wrong', and I'm going to sit down with a more advanced teacher that I trust from a neighborhood guitar shop and pay him to do a faux-lesson with me to try to assess all the places I'm 'doing it wrong'.

Good idea, although there would be nothing 'faux' about the lesson.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Sep 16, 2012,
ßamßamßam
would love a sandwich
Join date: Sep 2012
149 IQ
#10
Quote by mdc
Don't expect too much from your students, like thinking they're gonna practice their nuts off between lessons. Ain't gonna happen.

Occasionally, "one of them" will come along, and I tell you right off the bat that they are a joy to teach.

One more thing, a common mistake when starting out as a teacher is over loading your students with material between lessons. Avoid this by under teaching.


That "under teaching" seems like sound advice, almost a less-is-more kind of approach, if I'm getting your drift.

I'm quite braced for short attention spans. As a child, I myself was a terror to most authority for that very reason. I'm not expecting too much out of them in terms of practicing a lot, but I am excited to find out if I can inspire them to truly enjoy playing guitar. I've got tattoos and stuff like that, so I think that's on my side as far as making things seem "cool" to kids. My first music teacher in elementary school(for just a general music class, mostly singing and mindlessly slamming xylophonic instruments) was a grumpy older guy, who always came off seeming like he'd rather be anywhere but teaching that class. He's my personal example to myself of what I never want to be in the eyes of a student.
Hydra150
cutebutt mcsexyface
Join date: Nov 2006
1,793 IQ
#12
Quote by ßamßamßam
I've got tattoos and stuff like that, so I think that's on my side as far as making things seem "cool" to kids.



Just kidding, kids really are that impressionable. Although the main thing is your personality, of course - a boring teacher will be a boring teacher regardless of body-modifications, but you seem enthusiastic enough
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
ßamßamßam
would love a sandwich
Join date: Sep 2012
149 IQ
#13
Thanks, Hail, for that well thought out response. You've given me plenty to think about and a better idea of where I should be.

Quote by Hail

it's an incredibly gradual process, and it never gets fast. you could spend a year with a kid barely learning a couple green day songs and not know where C is on the fretboard, and you'll feel like you're cheating them out of their cash, but that's just the way of things. throwing in theory and technical bits are like trying to feed them their vegetables, especially when you're dealing with unmotivated preteens.


^ I have this funny feeling I'm going to be thinking back to this post as a way to keep from being too hard on myself.

I've made the mistake of trying to teach what little theory I know to a girlfriend, and she went from "show me how to play something" to "I don't get it! nevermind!" really fast. She didn't learn anything, but I did, and I get what you're saying.
ßamßamßam
would love a sandwich
Join date: Sep 2012
149 IQ
#14
Quote by Hydra150
kids really are that impressionable.


Haha, yes they are! I'd say my appearance is more like an ice-breaker with them because it seems to pique their curiosity. I like kids, and I think when you like kids they pick up on that and it ends up making you a fun "grown up" to be around.