Question: Tom Hess, what is your opinion about when I should teach my beginning guitar students what they want to learn and when should I teach them what they need to learn? I struggle to find the right balance and I’m not sure if there is supposed to be a balance or not. Please help! 

Tom Hess's Answer: Beginning guitar students generally have no idea about what they need to learn and do in order to reach their own guitar playing / musical goals. For example, if a guitar student tells you he wants to become a great songwriter but does not want to learn music theory and ear training, he will have a very hard time becoming a great songwriter. So, if he tells you he only wants to learn to play his favorite songs – and if you give him only that to learn and practice on guitar, you will give him what he wants on the surface, ‘the ability to play his favorite songs’, but will not be truly helping him to become what he REALLY wants – a great songwriter. Beginning guitar students do not know what they do not know. So it is best when you focus on what their goals are, then YOU determine what they need to know based on that. Communicate to them how and why those things ARE what they ‘want’ to learn. Then they will often want to know what they need to know as long as you can show them how it directly relates to their goal. The key here is for the teacher to communicate very clearly when explaining this.

To help you teach your guitar students more effectively using the ideas I just talked about check out these two resources:
1. Manifest your Musical Goals Into Reality.
2. How To Teach Guitar


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