How To Help Your Guitar Students Become Great Guitarists Faster
By Tom Hess
Being a great guitar teacher is about a lot more than just teaching guitar.
Guitar teaching is also about:
- Training your students to practice correctly (a great guitar teacher knows how to train them during their guitar lessons), so they see consistent progress and feel motivated to practice guitar on their own in between guitar lessons.
Most guitar students are not lazy. They simply never learned how to practice the right way (right in their guitar lessons with an expert guitar teacher)... this is why most don't practice as much as they should.
This means you have an opportunity to help your guitar students in ways an average guitar teachercannot (more on this below). Plus: your job as a guitar teacher becomes way easier once you get good at this.
- Becoming not just a guitar teacher, but a guitar coach to your guitar students and motivating them to believe in their musical potential, so they consistently do what you tell them to do. (You can do this both during their guitar lessons and in between their lessons.)
This is the hardest guitar teaching challenge for your average guitar teacher. Without this coaching (which ought to be part of all great guitar lessons), your guitar students lose their motivation, stop believing in their own potential and in you as their guitar teacher... and when that happens - guitar students quit.
The better you are at training your guitar students to practice and keep a positive mindset, the longer your guitar students stay with you, the happier they feel about your guitar lessons, and the more successful you become as their guitar teacher.
Check out this video to see how to become a better guitar teacher and train your guitar students to make rapid progress in their playing:
Guitar teaching is the process of communicating knowledge and musical concepts to your students. Training and coaching are about helping your guitar students understand, apply and integrate their knowledge. All of this should happen during your students' guitar lessons.
Your average guitar teacher only teaches. But beyond guitar teaching, he never coaches or trains his guitar students. This is one reason why the average guitar teacher does not have many great guitar students. An average guitar teacher struggles to get his students to practice and master their lesson materials.
Excelling in all 3 areas of guitar teaching also makes it easy to teach your guitar students in innovative ways.
This also helps you earn more money with your guitar teaching.
Guitar Teaching Tip #1: Build Your Guitar Students’ Confidence With Frequent Victories
Show your guitar students that they can master whatever skill they practice and struggle with in their guitar lessons. This raises their confidence in you as their guiatr teacher, builds their trust in your guitar teaching skills and makes them more likely to take guitar lessons with your for a long time.
You build your guitar students’ confidence by simplifying problems they struggle with (during their guitar lessons) to make them easier to solve when they practice at home. THIS is the mark of a truly great guitar teacher.
Example: Your guitar student may struggle to play a guitar lick like this:
And during your guitar lessons, your student may play each measure of this lick cleanly and up to speed, but struggle to put them together.
Your first guitar teaching goal during guitar lessons is to prove to your student that he can play this passage. A great guitar teacher can do this without slowing the lick down or making his guitar students practice anything hard.
Here is how: sustain the note at the end of the first measure to give your guitar students more time to think and prepare the hands to switch to the 2nd measure.
Sustaining the last note of the 1st measure creates a variation on the guitar lick that is much easier to play than the original. This allows your guitar students to practice both measures at performance speed (without slowing down).
After you build your student’s confidence, make the transition note shorter and shorter until he can play the original lick at the right speed. THIS is how you train your guitar students the right way during your guitar lessons.
Question: “Tom Hess, how can I apply this guitar teaching style to other challenges my guitar students may struggle with in their guitar lessons with me?”
Answer: Most of your guitar students’ problems are caused by their ears and brain, NOT by their hands. You have to realize this when you become a guitar teacher. Their ears are not able to keep up with their hands. In your guitar lessons, find a way to reduce the number of things your students’ brain has to focus on at once. This makes solving problems feel a lot easier and makes you a more confident guitar teacher.
Watch the video at the top of the page to see another example of giving your guitar students frequent victories during your guitar lessons.
Want to learn more about being a great guitar teacher? Take this guitar teaching test to see how good you are as a guitar teacher today and learn simple things you can do to teach guitar lessons better for your guitar students.
Guitar Teaching Tip #2: Expose The Problem That Is Holding Your Guitar Students Back
An expert guitar teacher can challenge his guitar students more after they feel confident in their ability to overcome their problems.
Here is how a great guitar teacher may do this during guitar lessons:
Create variations on the exercises your guitar students are practicing. Your variations must expose their problem and force your guitar students to focus on it more.
Watch the video (starting at 3:13) to see how creating variations on your guitar students’ problems helps them improve faster.
Variations can expose the problem in 2 ways for your guitar students:
- Make the problem harder. Example: ask your guitar students to play a guitar lick with difficult fretting hand stretches lower on the fretboard (where the frets are further apart). And your job as a guitar teacher is to make sure your guitar students are playing this harder variation correctly.
- Make the problem come up more frequently. Example: ask your guitar students to repeat a difficult picking hand motion more than once in a lick. This guitar teaching challenge gives your guitar students more chances to practice it.
This guitar teaching video shows more examples of creating variations on your students’ guitar playing challenges (you can use these ideas to run your guitar lessons better):
Common guitar teaching mistake: the average guitar teacher starts by exposing their guitar students’ problems before building their confidence, earning their trust and identifying their personality type. This is how NOT to teach guitar lessons. Such an approach often fails because most guitar students are weak-minded. Weak-mined guitar students:
- Crumble easily under pressure
- Feel bad about themselves when you expose their mistakes in their guitar lessons
- Don’t feel confident (yet) about their ability to overcome challenges and reach their goals.
- Don’t fully trust you or feel confident in your ability to help them reach their goals.
Most guitar students quit their guitar lessons with you because they don't like the process of facing their challenges and practicing to overcome them.
Strong-minded guitar students are self-motivated, focused and determined to reach their goals. Those students can handle a more direct approach to solving their musical problems. However, the majority of guitar students in the world are weak-minded.
This step of the coaching process determines how quickly your students improve their skills and reach their goals. Being an effective guitar teacher helps you keep your guitar students studying with you for years.
Guitar Teaching Tip #3: Create Custom Exercises For Your Guitar Students To Practice
Giving your students instant victories helps them believe in their potential to improve as musicians.
Exposing the true causes of their problems gives your students a path to follow to become great guitar players.
It's important to make your students’ guitar practice effective and fun at the same time. This keeps them engaged all through the process of reaching their goals.
Create many different exercises that force your students to work on their problem in different musical contexts. Here is how you can do this in your guitar lessons:
- Show you students how to transpose a lick into another scale or key.
- Create several (different) guitar licks for them that contain the same guitar technique challenge(s).
- Create a musical etude from the original guitar lick, to integrate it into real-life guitar playing.
The more great students you have, the faster your positive reputation spreads around your local area. This helps you attract a lot more guitar students and earn more money teaching guitar.
Question: “Tom Hess, this guitar teaching approach sounds like a lot of work! Am I supposed to create dozens of unique exercises for every problem all of my guitar students have in their guitar lessons?”
Answer: You don’t need to reinvent the guitar teaching wheel for every guitar student you have. The longer you teach guitar, the more guitar teaching similarities you find in the problems your students have. You can reuse exercises you’ve created to help other guitar students as long as they match the needs of the current student you are teaching.
This goes much deeper than saying “good job” when your students master something. You must remind your students of:
- How frustrated they were when they first began to work on their problem.
- How much work they put in to get the result they wanted.
- How much better their guitar playing sounds now compared to before.
- How their guitar practice efforts have created the result they are now enjoying.
You also must tell your students that every guitar playing challenge they conquer makes them more free to express themselves as musicians.
Guitar Teaching Tip #4: Make Your Guitar Students Feel Proud About Their Progress
Celebrate every instance of progress your students make and praise them for their efforts. This makes them feel proud of themselves and grateful to you - their guitar teacher, trainer and coach.
Now you know the best way to teach guitar, the next step is to test your guitar teaching skills & learn how to become a better guitar teacher for your students. Take this guitar teaching test and learn how to become the guitar teacher your students will feel proud to study with.
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 become a very successful guitar teacher.