Teaching Guitar: How To Fix Bad Habits And Solve Problems Your Guitar Students Have

By Tom Hess

How To Keep Your Guitar
Students Taking Lessons
With You For Years

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Your job as a guitar teacher (things you must do for your guitar students) consists of 3 primary roles: 
  1. Inspiring and motivating your students – Teaching guitar well is often more about inspiring your guitar students than teaching a new scale, chord or song.
  2. Teaching your guitar students new things to play / practice – Most guitar teachers understand this basic concept, but don’t know how much new content is too little or too much for each guitar student. 
  3. Helping your guitar students solve their guitar playing / musical challenges – The best way to improve your guitar teaching is to understand exactly how to help any student overcome any problem. 

How To Keep Your Guitar
Students Taking Lessons
With You For Years

By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Tom Hess Music Corporation who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

Guitar teachers usually struggle the most with the last category (helping their students solve their guitar playing problems). This skill often determines whether your guitar students stay with you for years or quit studying with you and look for a better teacher.

Teaching your guitar students to solve problems and bad habits starts with getting clear on the process.

Step 1: Identify The True Cause(s) Of Your Guitar Students’ Problem(s).

Remember that symptoms of problems and causes of problems are often totally different things. A misdiagnosed problem can make things worse than doing nothing at all. Your guitar students need you to look past the symptoms of their problems and identify their true causes.

How To Solve Guitar Student Problems

Step 2: Find Proven Solutions To Overcome Your Students’ Problems.

Don’t rely on trial and error to solve your guitar students’ challenges (as most teachers do). It’s your job to know which solutions work best and to help your students implement them. You must constantly improve your guitar teaching abilities, just like professionals in other industries constantly train to improve their knowledge and skills.

This video shows an effective guitar teaching process that helps your students improve quickly:

Improving your guitar teaching skills is completely different from improving your own musical skills. Guitar teaching skills are about training other people to develop (and improve) musical abilities. These skills require you to understand human psychology, be an effective communicator and have the right guitar teaching strategies that deliver results.

Step 3: Communicate To Your Students The Causes Of Their Problems And Your Solutions To Them.

Your guitar students need to understand the causes of their musical frustrations and your solutions to each one. Laying out a logical path for them to follow makes your students more likely to implement what you tell them to do.

Without this understanding, your guitar students won’t be motivated to practice at home and will lack the skills needed to practice correctly. 

Step 4: Communicate The Benefits Of Your Solution.

Understanding the logical steps of your solution is not enough. Your guitar students must also feel:

  • The pain of their musical limitations created by their current problem(s).
  • The amazing feelings of overcoming their challenges and playing guitar better than ever (after they implement your solution). 

This dual approach via logic and emotion is a powerful way to inspire your guitar students to implement your solution. 

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Step 5: Train Your Guitar Students To Implement The Solution.

Don’t simply tell your guitar students what to do – walk them through the process of getting it DONE. The teaching part can usually be done quickly. Training takes the most time. Think of yourself as a sports trainer vs. a school teacher as you train your guitar students to implement your solution to their problem(s).

Step 6: Keep Your Students Focused On The Outcome.

Monitor your students’ motivation level and help them keep it high. Remind your students of the benefits they get from implementing your solution. This sustains their enthusiasm all the way through the process.

A mediocre guitar teacher who keeps his students motivated always get bigger results than a great technical teacher who cannot keep students focused on the big picture. The big picture is the outcome your students want. Focusing on the outcome is key to your guitar students’ long-term progress. 

Many guitar teachers try to use linear logic to help students break bad habits and overcome challenges. This approach would work well when dealing with machines, but fails when applied to (most) people.

This video explains why linear logic often fails when teaching guitar and shows a much better approach to use:

The order in which you teach guitar playing topics has a huge impact on the minds of your students. It makes all the difference between your students staying with you for years and them quitting out of frustration.

Step 7: Celebrate Your Students’ Victories.

Congratulate your students for reaching their goal. This makes them feel proud about their achievement and more motivated to continue doing what you tell them to do.

Avoid overwhelming your guitar students with too many things to do, fix and think about all at once.

Focus on one problem at a time, even if your student has dozens of bad habits that need to be fixed. Solving too many problems at once does more harm than good for most guitar students. It’s easy to make most students feel bad about their guitar playing and their musical potential. This kills their will and motivation to do the work needed to improve. 

Warning: Do not make every guitar lesson all about solving problems. You must balance solving problems and undoing bad habits with forward progress in your students’ musical skills. Most guitar students don’t realize that solving problems is moving their playing forward (even after you explain it to them). Give your guitar students other things to do and practice that are fulfilling and keep them inspired.

This guitar teaching guide helps you keep your guitar students motivated to study with you for years.

Become a better guitar teacher by learning how to effectively teach beginner guitar.

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