5 Big Mistakes To Avoid With Your Beginning Guitar Students, So They Make Faster Progress And Continue To Study With You For A Long Time

by Tom Hess

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Teaching Beginning Guitar Students
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Do your beginning students usually progress slowly?

Do some of your beginner students lose interest in lessons and stop studying with you after less than 1 year?

Is it sometimes difficult for you to keep your guitar students motivated to practice?

If you answered "Yes", you are not alone. Many guitar teachers have these same problems with their beginner students.

This means there are A LOT of frustrated beginner students in your area right now looking for a great teacher who:

  • Understands their desire to learn guitar and play music,
  • Can relate to their challenges, frustrations and self-doubts,
  • Can make learning guitar easy and fun for them.

How Effective Are You At
Guitar Students?
Teaching Beginning Guitar Students
Beginning Guitar Method Quiz
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Good news is that teaching beginner students is not very hard after you learn 5 mistakes that most guitar teachers make and understand how to avoid them.

When you learn to teach beginners the right way, you will always have a full schedule of guitar students and will make a lot more money teaching guitar.

Avoid these 5 common mistakes when you teach your beginner guitar students:

Teach Beginner Guitar Students
Mistake #1. Using Linear Guitar Teaching Methods With Beginners. Here Is What This Means, Why This Hurts You And What To Do About It:

The linear approach to teaching guitar means your students work on one skill at a time and wait until they fully master it before you teach them the next skill. This approach is logical... the problem is that it only works well when you are teaching a linear topic (such as mathematics or science) or if you are programming a computer.

The linear approach doesn’t work well when teaching music to people (especially beginners). When your students learn one thing at a time, they don’t feel like musicians when they practice guitar. The learning process becomes boring and seems to take forever. Most beginners get discouraged quickly and lose interest in playing guitar before they see real progress (more on this below).

Guitar students improve a much faster when you teach them using the Geometric ApproachTM. With the geometric guitar teaching method, your students improve in several areas of their guitar playing at the same time. Most importantly, they get to feel like real musicians even before their skills reach an advanced level.

This approach is better than the linear method for 2 reasons:

  1. Your guitar students learn what they need to become great musicians a lot faster. The faster your students progress, the better they feel about you - their guitar teacher.
  2. Your students have a lot more fun when they play and practice guitar. They enjoy the process because they learn to make music with their skills before each skill is fully mastered. The more your students enjoy the learning process, the longer they continue to study with you (and pay you for lessons).

Watch this video to understand how the geometric approach works, so you can begin using it with your guitar students right away: 

Want to know how good you are at teaching beginning guitar students? Take this short guitar teaching quiz to learn how to help your students become amazing musicians and become the #1 guitar teacher in your area.

Mistake #2. Teaching Beginner Students Music Theory, Ear Training, Finger Independence Exercises And Sight Reading. Here Is Why This Is A Big Mistake And What To Do Instead:

When you started playing guitar (as a complete beginner), you probably wanted to have fun, play the music you love and be admired by others, right? Your beginner guitar students are the same way. They take guitar lessons from you to learn guitar faster and have more fun in the process.

Playing finger exercises, learning to read music or studying music theory is the very opposite of fun to most beginners. Worst of all, beginners cannot do anything musical with finger exercises or with sight reading skills.

When your students don’t have fun, they quickly lose interest in taking lessons.

Solution: get your students playing music as soon as possible (ideally right in the first lesson). Show your beginner students that playing guitar is even more fun than they hoped it would be. This makes them excited to continue practicing and take lessons from you. Read this article to learn 10 simple guitar teaching tips that help you make your guitar lessons fun and effective for your students.

Note: finger exercises, music theory and ear training ARE very useful for most students to know and practice (especially music theory and ear training), but not when they are beginners.

Question: “But Tom Hess, it feels wrong to not teach music theory or finger exercises to my beginner students! Isn’t it my job to teach my students everything they need to know to become great guitar players?”

Answer: Your #1 job is to get your beginner students to have fun playing guitar and not give up out of frustration or boredom. If you fail to do this, your students will quit taking lessons (and often quit playing guitar). This is the worst possible outcome for your students and for you.

You can start teaching more challenging skills that require real patience when your students are strong enough mentally to handle them (more on this below).

Note: Of course there are some (rare) beginners who can respond well to learning music theory or lots of finger exercises from the very beginning, but such people are rare. The stronger your students’ mindset is, the better he/she can handle topics that require a lot of perseverance to see results.

Mistake #3. Not Helping Beginner Students Develop Confidence In Their Musical Potential. Here Is Why This Hurts You (And Your Students) And What To Do About It:

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Your beginner guitar students are totally clueless about the process of learning guitar and taking guitar lessons. Most importantly, they are clueless about themselves. They ask themselves questions like:

“Can I actually learn to play guitar well?”

“Do I have any potential to become a musician?”

“Do I have any natural talent for guitar? “

“Do I actually need to have natural talent to play guitar?”

“Will I have enough time to practice guitar every day?”

Other students worry that they might be too old, or too young. They worry that maybe their hands are too big, or too small. They don’t know if they really need guitar lessons or if they are better off teaching themselves. They don’t know if they will enjoy practicing guitar or not. They worry they may not have an ear for music or lack a sense of rhythm.

Note: your beginner students won’t always tell you that they have these fears and insecurities… but virtually all beginners have them (at least to some extent).

Do your best to remove these self-doubts from your students’ minds as soon as possible. Show your students that they have as much potential as their favorite guitar players. This helps your students develop self-confidence and persevere through the learning process. 

Important: Your guitar students need more than simple encouraging words from you. You need to know exactly what to do and what teaching methods to use to show your students that they really can and will learn to play guitar well (under your guidance).

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If you don’t know what to do to teach your students to become great guitar players, get guitar teacher training.

Mistake #4. Teaching beginning students using a similar (but more simple) approach to teaching intermediate and advanced students. Here Is Why This Mistake Holds You Back And What To Do About It:

Your beginner students have totally different challenges, mindsets and reasons for taking guitar lessons than intermediate or advanced guitar students. They cannot practice guitar with the same intensity and persistence as more advanced guitarists can.

Example: Advanced students are more likely to practice a tedious exercise countless times to improve some aspect of their playing. They are very clear on what they want to achieve and are less likely to get bored or overwhelmed.

Advanced students already have a lot of self-confidence in their musical potential and can already play lots of things well on guitar. They do not have the same self-doubts that beginner guitarists usually have.

Advanced students also have first-hand proof that practicing tedious exercises makes them better guitar players. Beginner guitarists do not have this proof yet.

Advanced guitar players usually do not require much motivation to practice guitar at home (between lessons). Beginners do.

Advanced guitarists also generally have a stronger mindset (compared to beginner guitar players). This means they are a lot more likely to invest upfront work into something before seeing results.

Most beginners cannot (or will not) fully commit to this style of practicing yet. If you give your beginner students the easier version of exercises and materials your advanced students practice, they are likely to become bored, overwhelmed and not practice what you tell them to do.

Solution: Give your beginner students easy victories. Let them experience some progress in each lesson they have with you. This makes your students more willing to practice what you tell them to practice. Eventually, they will trust you (and themselves) enough to practice tedious exercises for long periods of time, just like your intermediate and advanced students do.

This video shows how to create easy victories for your students and make them feel great about taking guitar lessons from you:

Remember that you are teaching people first, music second. It’s all about your student and his/her mindset, fears and expectations.
I go into much more depth about this teaching philosophy inside Elite Guitar Teachers Inner Circle

Guitar teacher training

And here is what guitar teachers are saying:



(See more Elite Guitar Teacher Inner Circle reviews.)

Mistake #5. Using A Trial-And-Error Approach To Learn How To Teach Guitar. Here Is Why This Hurts You (And Your Guitar Students) And What To Do About It:


If you expect your guitar students to pay you money for lessons, your students deserve for you to be the best teacher you can possibly be.

When all your guitar teaching experience comes from trial and error, your guitar students become like laboratory rats in an experiment. Of course you can learn some good things from hands-on teaching, but it’s unfair to your students when you learn only in this way.

Teaching your students by trial and error also makes you just like the majority of other guitar teachers in your area. This means 2 things:

  1. The main way you can compete with other guitar teachers is by charging less money for your guitar lessons. This is a lose/lose situation for your guitar students and for you.
  2. You leave yourself vulnerable to an ambitious competitor who has specialized training on how to teach guitar. Such a teacher can move into your area and easily take a lot of students away from you. This makes it hard for you to earn money teaching guitar.

With all of the resources available for guitar teachers today, there is no excuse for you to not be the best guitar teacher you can be. Seek out proven training programs for guitar teachers, acquire guitar teaching resources, or at least read more articles (like this one) on how to become a better guitar teacher.

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid with your beginner guitar students, the next step to becoming a very successful guitar teacher is to test your guitar teaching skills. This tells you exactly what to do to become the kind of guitar teacher every student brags about. Take this guitar teaching quiz to learn how to become a better guitar teacher right now. 

Tom HessAbout Tom Hess: Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, music career mentor and guitar teacher trainer. He teaches rock guitar lessons online to students from all over the world and conducts instructional live guitar training events attended by musicians from over 50 countries.

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