How To Help Your Guitar Students Become Great Guitarists Faster

By Tom Hess

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Being a great guitar teacher is about a lot more than just teaching guitar.

It's also about:

  • Training your students to practice correctly, so they see consistent progress and feel motivated to practice guitar on their own in between lessons.

    Most guitar students are not lazy. They simply never learned how to practice the right way... 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 most teachers cannot (more on this below).
  • Becoming a coach to your guitar students and motivating them to believe in their musical potential, so they consistently do what you tell them to do.

    This is the most difficult part of teaching guitar well. Without this coaching, your studens lose their motivation, stop believing in their own potential and in your ability to help them improve... and when that happens - students quit.

    The better you are at training your students to practice and keep a positive mindset, the longer your students stay with you, the happier they feel, and the more successful you become.

Check out this video to see how to train and coach your guitar students to make rapid progress in their playing:

Teaching is the process of communicating knowledge and musical concepts to your students. Training and coaching are about helping your students understand, apply and integrate their knowledge.

Great guitar teachers are masters of all 3 skills. This is a big reason why many of their students become great musicians very quickly.

Excelling in all 3 areas also makes it easy to teach your students in innovative ways and earn more money teaching guitar.

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These guitar teaching tips help you become a coach and trainer for your students:

How To Teach Guitar Students

Guitar Teaching Tip #1: Build Your Guitar Students’ Confidence With Frequent Victories

Show your students that they can master whatever skill they practice and struggle with. This raises their confidence, builds their trust in you and makes them more likely to persevere through the process of reaching their goals.

You build your students’ confidence by simplifying problems they struggle with to make them easier to solve.

Example: Your student may struggle to play a guitar lick like this:

How To Teach Guitar Students To Gain Confidence

Your student may play each measure of this lick cleanly and up to speed, but struggle to put them together.

Your first goal is to prove to your student that he can play this passage. You can do this without slowing the lick down or making your students practice anything hard.

Here is how: sustain the note at the end of the first measure to give your student more time to think and prepare his 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 student 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.

Question: “Tom Hess, how can I apply the idea in this example to other challenges my guitar students may struggle with?”

Answer: Most of your guitar students’ problems are caused by their ears and brain, NOT by their hands. Their ears are not able to keep up with their hands. 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.

Watch the video at the top of the page to see another example of giving your guitar students frequent victories during your guitar lessons.

Take this guitar teaching test to see how good you are at teaching guitar and learn simple things you can do to become a better teacher for your students.

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Guitar Teaching Tip #2: Expose The Problem That Is Holding Your Students Back

You can challenge your students more after they feel confident in their ability to overcome their problems.

Create variations on the exercises your students are practicing. Your variations must expose their problem and force them to focus on it more.

Variations can expose the problem in 2 ways:

  • Make the problem harder. Example: ask your students to play a guitar lick with difficult fretting hand stretches lower on the fretboard (where the frets are further apart).
  • Make the problem come up more frequently. Example: ask your students to repeat a difficult picking hand motion more than once in a lick. This gives their hands more chances to practice it.

This video shows more examples of creating variations on your students’ guitar playing challenges:

Common guitar teaching mistake: Most teachers start by exposing their guitar students’ problems before building their confidence, earning their trust and identifying their personality type. This 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
  • 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 lessons because they don't like the process of facing their challenges and practicing to overcome them.

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. For example:

  • 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.

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 that 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.

Tom HessAbout 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.

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