Why Cookie-Cutter Guitar Teaching Methods Suck And How To Teach Your Guitar Students To Turn Them Into Kickass Musicians Fast
By Tom Hess
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Have you ever had guitar students who progressed very slowly no matter how you tried to teach them? We all have… and it’s very frustrating.
You’ve probably also had some guitar students who learned very fast and made rapid progress in their lessons with you.
Wouldn’t it be great to help more of your students improve faster and become awesome guitar players? Of course it would… this not only makes you feel good inside, but also helps you attract more students and earn more money teaching guitar.
Turning your students into great guitar players is about 3 things:
- Assessing your students’ personality type, so you know what teaching style to use to help your students improve fast.
- Creating the right lesson materials to use with your students that are consistent with: their personality type, their stated goals and their musical strengths & weaknesses.
- Getting your guitar students to do what you tell them to do, so they actually make progress and become great players.
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Your students’ personalities fall into one of 2 basic types: strong and weak-minded.
When you tailor your lessons to the students’ personality type, your students begin to improve very quickly.
Check out this video to learn the difference between strong and weak-minded students and how you should teach each one:
Question: “Tom Hess, what should I do if I can’t figure out what my students’ personality type is?”
Answer: If you can’t figure out a students’ personality type quickly, it’s safe to assume that they are weak-minded. This is the personality of most people in general.
How To Create The Right Lesson Materials For Your Guitar Students, To Help Them Improve Quickly:
Avoid using the same cookie-cutter guitar method books or courses with your guitar students. Unless you only teach total beginners, this will cause a lot of problems and frustration for you (and for your students). Here is what often happens when you use one-size-fits-all methods during your guitar lessons:
- Your guitar students progress very slowly. Most guitar teaching methods (and books) were designed to explain musical topics, rather than help your students reach their specific musical goals. (You won’t find many guitarists who became great from studying a certain method book.)
- When your students don’t see the connection between the materials you teach them and their musical goals, their motivation to practice guitar goes way down.
- Because of problems 1 and 2, your guitar students may quit lessons with you sooner than they should.
- You will have a harder time attracting new guitar students. This is because your lessons appear to be no different and no better than every other guitar teacher in town. New students will have no reason to study with you vs. your competitors.
- Because of points 1-4, you will struggle to make good money teaching guitar. You deserve better and so do your students.
Want to learn how to keep your students studying with you for many years (even decades)? Download this eGuide to keeping your students from quitting lessons and learn how to become the guitar teacher all students in your area brag about.
Here is how the very best guitar teachers successfully teach their students (and how you can do it too):
Step 1: Change your mindset. You are not in the business of “teaching guitar”. You are in the business of solving musical problems and eliminating frustrations your students have. This is why your students come to you and pay you money.
Step 2: Identify what holds each of your guitar students back from reaching their specific goals. You do this by asking a lot of questions to understand each students’ situation before you teach them anything.
Watch this video to see an example of this step of the process:
Step 3: Create guitar lesson materials that help your students reach their goals. These materials can be reused with different students in ways that are consistent with what they want to achieve (more on this below).
Step 4: Offer classes that help your students develop specific musical skills they need to reach their goals. Get your students to enroll in the right combination of classes that are appropriate for their unique goals.
This approach helps your students reach their goals quickly and reduces the number of hours you have to teach. You will be able to help a lot of students with this teaching model, while working less hours than most guitar teachers.
Question: “But Tom Hess, aren't private lessons better than group classes? Isn’t it true that students get more of their teachers’ undivided attention during a private lesson?”
Answer: It’s true that your students get your undivided attention during your lesson time… however this doesn't make private lessons better than group classes. Here are a few big advantages of group lessons over private lessons:
Reason #1: In a group class, your students become independent learners. You are there to coach them, give them 1-1 feedback and support (when they need it), while letting them practice independently some of the time. This teaches your students how to practice correctly (and independently) in between lessons when you are not there to watch their every move. As a result, your students improve faster
In private lessons, your students often become totally dependent on you (their teacher). They don't get your feedback on their guitar practice habits and their ability to solve their guitar playing problems. Many students don’t develop the work ethic, confidence and ability to practice guitar correctly on their own (between lessons). This makes their progress a lot slower.
Reason #2: Your students need to learn to play with other musicians and overcome fear of playing in front of other people. In a group class, students develop both skills quickly, because they play with other people all the time. Private lessons do not help your students in this area.
When you teach group classes (instead of traditional1-1 lessons) you can have multiple students in the same class who need to develop the same skills. You can easily do this even if your students are all at different skill levels. (If you don’t know how to effectively teach group classes, get guitar teacher training to learn how – this cannot be learned in a written article.)
Question: “Tom Hess, if I create new materials for all my guitar students, won’t this create an insane amount of extra work for me? Do I need to spend a lot of extra/unpaid time to create personalized lesson strategies for every single student I teach?”
Answer: No and No. It’s important to not confuse guitar lesson materials with strategy. You CAN reuse the same materials with different students (since some of the skills your students need to learn will be the same). However, the strategy (the order/combination of materials) needs to be unique for each person.
Once your students get in the habit of practicing correctly during their lessons, they will be more likely to practice correctly at home.
Watch this video to see how simple it is to train your guitar students to practice:
Question: “But Tom Hess, doesn't watching my students practice mean there is less time left to teach them?”
Answer: Not necessarily (you can avoid this with the right guitar teaching model). More importantly, getting your students to practice during lessons helps them to master the things they are learning from you more quickly. This means your students stay with you longer and won’t quit lessons due to feeling overwhelmed.
How To Get Your Students To Do What You Tell Them To Do, To Ensure They Become Better Guitar Players In Every Lesson
Getting your students to do what you tell them to do is your #1 most important responsibly as a guitar teacher. Your ability to do this determines how quickly your students become good guitar players.
Here are some tips for how to motivate your students to do what you tell them to do:
1. Have your students practice guitar during the lesson with you. This ensures that they practice correctly (because you are right there to give them feedback and prevent bad habits from forming).
2. Help your guitar students see why doing what you tell them helps them play guitar exactly the way they want.
Your students are a lot more likely to do what you tell them when they are certain their efforts will lead to a big result. Part of your job as a guitar teacher is to effectively communicate the benefits of doing what you want your students to do.
Watch this video to learn what this means and how to do it:
3. Create a competitive environment among your students.
When your students see other students around them improving quickly, they become motivated to work harder to keep up. This makes it easier to persuade them to do what they need to do to improve.
Tip: group lessons create positive competition among your students. This is yet another reason why group classes are better than private 1-1 lessons.
Here is how you benefit when you implement these guitar teaching strategies:
- Your guitar students will become better guitar players faster because your teaching methods focus directly on their specific goals.
- As your students quickly become good guitarists, your positive reputation as a guitar teacher spreads around your local area and attracts new students to you.
- Because your students are improving faster, they are more likely to refer their friends to you for lessons.
- You will make a lot more money teaching guitar than you ever thought possible while helping hundreds of people in your area have more fun playing music.
Want to learn how to keep your students taking guitar lessons with you for many years (even decades)? Download this free guide right now to learn how to keep your guitar students from quitting.
About Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He trains guitar teachers from all over the world how to earn 6-figures per year teaching guitar, while working less than 40 hours per week.
Learn how to improve your guitar teaching skills by getting training for guitar teachers.
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