Teachers Lessons Plans I - Basic Lesson Series

A description of how to teach a first time guitar lesson if you are new to teaching or are panicking last minute to put together a lesson..

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Lessons vary from 90 minutes to 30 so depending on how long you have: expand or simplify part of the lesson. Please note that these plans are based off personal opinion, and have been created for someone who is teaching a student who has never before played the guitar. The criteria that we will cover over the next basic lesson series" will be the follow:
  • Guitar position: (comfortable/efficient) in between thighs preferably.
  • Right elbow: touches top (face) of guitar.
  • Strumming hand position: pinky finger is used as a brace, no bouncing up and down when picking notes.
  • Left hand: strongly, mobile, thumb position: middle of neck/lower generally, finger dexterity exercises.
  • Music theory: notes/strings are notes/frets change pitch=>different note.
  • Different combinations of notes make chords. (E.g. minor, major. ect.)
  • Reading tablatures, (e.g. b / \ h p * )
  • Tuning Explanation of guitar methods: Describe and Demo:
  • Different genres used different techniques and ask about the student preferred music genre.
  • Explain parts of the guitar and explain purposes of each specific part.
  • Holding guitar: classical style is useful but sometimes pointless (body in between legs) I prefer holding the guitar like this because I find it easier to move my left hand up and down the neck and can reach farther in that position.
  • Have students hold the guitar in a manner that is comfortable but allows them to play without any hindrances (e.g. sleeve hitting strings).
  • Have students place elbow on the face of guitar and from there have them strum over the pickups (should be smooth movement).
  • Right hand (picking hand), how to hold/pick properly. Note: don't pick away from the guitar, have student pick string slowly and over exaggerate the technique by having the pick touch the string below before returning to original position.
  • Alternate picking can be introduced but primarily practice getting a smooth picking motion.
  • Options for picking hand: use pinky finger as a brace, fist technique, OK hand signal method that allows other fingers to pick notes ect.
  • Left hand: have student place thumb on the direct opposite side of a fret. Then place middle and ring finger on the frets on either side of the fret.
  • Explain how hand has to be strong, flexible, and able to move quickly and your fingers will develop strength as they play. Try: (after teaching names of strings) G-major
    e|-----------------------------2-3-5---
    B|-------------------------3-5---------
    G|-------------------2-4-5-------------
    D|-------------2-4-5-------------------
    A|-------2-3-5-------------------------
    E|-2-3-5-------------------------------
    Note: Good time to introduce tabs or memory learning (no tabs) If tabs: 2=1st finger, 3=2nd Finger, 4=3rd finger and 5=4th finger (for this tab only)
  • Generally try to find what your student is comfortable with, but, DO NOT allow him/her to develop bad habits. Do:
  • have student try different techniques (if they haven't while you were describing/demoing)
  • Teach a basic song that involves one or two strings or strength building exercise.
  • If student is interested in chords you may which your lesson in that direction but I will cover chords in a lesson later on. Feed Back:
  • Correct bad habits and have student practice the habit properly until they do it consistently.
  • Offer encouragement and positively correct mistakes. Home Work:
  • Have students read this lesson.
  • Practice G-major scale and song.
  • Encourage students to pursue their interests at home and not be limited by what you tell them to do.
  • Play guitar and have fun with it!
  • 12 comments sorted by best / new / date

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      antonio2466
      I agree with wasp2020, this a great place to start. Working here in Alaska, I have many co-workers who want to learn. I am by far in no position to teach, other than I have been playing for 40 years as a hobby. I would like to abuse my friends LOL. Thanks
      wasp2020
      Good outline, I'm thinking into doing some teaching, this posture stuff is great
      jbridge90
      This lesson really helped me give my buddy his first lesson. How often will you be coming out with these?
      0-cool
      Hey this is actually pretty decent, although all it really does is paraphrase the stuff in the beginning of those stupid How To books... But who likes reading anyways. Props to Mrasi
      Mrasi
      This lesson really helped me give my buddy his first lesson. How often will you be coming out with these?
      Well I'm quite busy teaching but I'm going try and get them done every 1-3 weeks, preferably I'll be able to write all quickly but in between everything I've got going on it is impossible to know. But I'll do my best to be quick. lol
      Mrasi
      And using the pinky to stablize your hand is a bad thing to do, it slows down your picking and can lead to health problems (carperal tunnel, and arthritis for example).
      Its all about getting the student playing in a manner that is comfortable to them so they can develop their skills/accuracy in playing notes. E.g. String skipping is easier when you have that brace and you are trying to not look at your strings.
      smartalec007
      Wouldnt it be better to start on the key of C and the C major scale, since it has no sharps or flats? And using the pinky to stablize your hand is a bad thing to do, it slows down your picking and can lead to health problems (carperal tunnel, and arthritis for example).
      drunken ninja
      hunta7989 wrote: i dont know if technically that is a g major scale, wouldn't it have to start and end on a g to make it a g major scale?
      youre right. technically its not, you would have to explain to the student that the G is the root note and theyre playing a scale shape in the key of G
      militantRocker
      It's just covering from the lowest note in the key of G to the highest you can play w/out changing positions, moving right up the scale. So kind of yes and no to it being a Gmaj scale.
      drunken ninja
      settled. otherwise pretty good article. ill be keeping an eye on these since im probably gonna start getting into teaching soon
      hunta7989
      i dont know if technically that is a g major scale, wouldn't it have to start and end on a g to make it a g major scale?