Mistake #1 Using linear guitar teaching methods with beginners. The vast majority of guitar teachers teach beginning guitar students i...
The vast majority of guitar teachers teach beginning guitar students in a logical linear way. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t work well for beginners. Students progress slowly, or give up, leaving both teachers and students very frustrated. Reading this, you may think: ‘But all books for beginning guitar students are written in this way?’ You are right, they are written in a very logical linear way, and this is a huge part of the problem. The linear teaching approach makes perfect sense if you are teaching a topic that is linear such as mathematics or science, but you are teaching music – an art that requires a different method to teaching and learning. Yet the conventional way beginner books are written (and the conventional way beginning students are taught) is typically very linear. When some teachers realize that it doesn’t work, they start to not use any book at all and instead make their own attempt to teaching beginning students with their own version of the linear teaching approach. This often produces mediocre results… some teachers simply ‘accept’ those mediocre results, while others begin searching (again) for a better method of teaching beginners that will work all (or at least most) of the time. One of those better methods is the “geometric guitar teaching method”. With this approach students learn to apply and integrate a wider range of necessary musical skills from the beginning of their training.
Mistake #2 Teaching total beginning guitar students the wrong things in the first several lessons such as: music theory, finger exercises, how to read music notation. Although each of those areas are very useful for most students to know (especially music theory), it is simply not the right time to introduce those topics at this point. Why? Well, there are several reasons, but the main one is that most total beginners will become bored, quickly lose interest, and may hurt their confidence at this point. Of course there will be some students who can respond well to learning these areas from the very beginning, but many will not.
Some teachers feel they are being an irresponsible teacher if they don’t teach this stuff right away. They insist on teaching total beginners these topics, usually causing the teacher to make mistake #3, listed next. For the vast majority of total beginning guitar students, the primary teaching goal should be to build the students’ confidence by getting them to actually do some guitar playing as soon as possible – this will help you to also avoid mistake #3.
Mistake #3 Not building the critical self-confidence that all students need (especially beginners). New students of the guitar (total beginners) are totally clueless about learning to play guitar, guitar lessons, and most importantly, about ‘themselves’. Beginners don’t know if they will actually be able to ever learn to play guitar. They don’t know if they have any potential. They are wondering if they have any natural talent at all. They’re wondering if they actually need to have natural talent to play guitar. They 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 will enjoy practicing or not. They worry they may not have an ‘ear for music’ or if they have any rhythm.
You must help your students to remove these self-doubts as soon as possible… but encouraging words are often not enough. You will need to use guitar teaching methods and materials which will naturally and quickly show your beginning students some very real tangible proof that they really can, will and are learning to play guitar well.
Mistake #4 Teaching beginning students using a similar (but more simple) approach to teaching intermediate and advanced students. As mentioned above, building self-confidence in the student should be the foundation with which to build your lessons upon, but after this is established and nurtured in your beginning guitar students, there are still aspects of your approach to teaching which should be different than it is for more advanced guitar players. For example, advanced students are more likely to understand, appreciate and be willing to practice a tedious exercise countless times in order to achieve something on the guitar – most beginners cannot (or will not) fully understand, appreciate these ideas nor actually be willing to practice in this way for long periods of time. Your teaching methods must match the general mindset of the type of student you are teaching. Focus on teaching ‘people’ more than teaching ‘music’… It’s all about your student.
Mistake #5 Using the trial-and-error approach to learn how to teach guitar. Fact is most guitar teachers try to learn how to teach guitar by treating their students 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 to learn ‘only’ in this way. With all of the resources available for guitar teachers today, there is no excuse for teachers to gain all their teaching experience using the trial and error approach. Seek out proven training programs for guitar teachers, acquire guitar teaching resources, or at least read more articles on how to become a better guitar teacher.
When you avoid the guitar teaching mistakes mentioned above both you and your students will benefit in many ways. You will both experience a greater fulfillment during your lessons. Your students will make much faster, easier and better progress in their guitar playing. You will likely keep your students active in taking lessons from you for a longer period of time. And your reputation as a guitar teacher will only be enhanced in the process.
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