Planning Guitar Lessons

Being a guitar teacher can be a wonderful way to support yourself in your career while passing on what you know. But it can be a pain if you're not prepared and don't approach every student carefully. Here are some tips to rock at teaching guitar. 

Keep their level and goals in mind

The most important thing to consider is your student's level. Structure your lessons and expectations to meet your student at their level. A total beginner with five hours of weekly guitar homework doesn't make sense. And a conservatory student only practicing for ten minutes a day doesn't make sense either. Also, consider their goals for music lessons and what they want to get out of playing guitar. Playing for fun and playing for concert halls will require two very different approaches. 

Spice up technical exercises

Every music student dreads having to practice scales and techniques. But a lot of that dread stems from the way lessons present technical exercises. If you want your student to practice scales, get them in the habit of varying the patterns. Arpeggios, interval skips, and licks are all scale work. But because they are more musical than simply running up and down C major, they're more interesting to practice. Also, connect the technique to pieces they're working on. The more your students relate the technical skills to the musical skills, the more improvement they'll make with both.

Include plenty of repertoires

No matter the student's level, working on specific pieces will greatly benefit them. First, it's something they want to do; that's why they picked up the guitar. But more than that, working on repertoire allows your students to see their own progress while having fun. With that in mind, it's important to pick pieces that they'll like playing and that are appropriate for their level. A piece shouldn't be so hard that a student has to struggle through it or so easy that it doesn't offer any challenge. 

Give them the right homework

There are no two ways about it: if you want your student to get better, they have to practice outside of lessons. But the homework shouldn't be a chore. Make sure the work they do outside of class is related to what you go over in lessons. So if a piece they're working on includes lots of chord shapes, give them practice work that targets moving between chord shapes. The more they can connect the two, the better they'll understand and excel at what you want them to do.

Add on some pop songs!

One great way to keep students engaged and interested is to supplement lessons with pop songs. Have them try to pick out the chords to the favorite tunes or if they can play the melody to the latest hit. You can even spend an entire lesson just jamming to a pop. This method of using songs they know will activate their ear and their technical skills. It will also give them a great way to show off, both to you and their friends. 

Remember to be flexible

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to be flexible. Sometimes life gets in the way and a student didn't practice as much as they wanted to. Other times, they may be injured or simply checked out. Have several back-up lessons planned for those days your students feel off. Some ideas for back-ups include the physics of the guitar, guitar history, a jam session, or even just listening to and talking about a nice jazz guitar solo. Any of these things can help take the pressure off while keeping students engaged.

Follow these tips to keep your students active and interested in their guitar lessons. Not only will they be rockstars in record time, but your life as a guitar teacher will be more fulfilling as well.