by Tom Hess
Are you tired of watching your guitar students make progress at a very slow rate? Many guitar teachers struggle at some point to get their students to make fast progress and as a result their guitar teaching business suffers. The good news is, it is not as hard as you might think to get your students to make incredible progress in a short period of time… but first you must make a fundamental change to your overall guitar teaching approach.
Although there are tons of reasons why most guitarists who take lessons never become great musicians, in the end a lot of your success as a guitar teacher will depend on your ability to effectively teach your students ‘how to practice’.
You can be a great teacher at everything else in your guitar lessons, but until your students fully understand how to properly practice guitar they will never really be able to reach high levels in their guitar playing. In fact, they could stay with you for years at a time and never make any real progress. It is for this reason that you MUST show your guitar students how to practice and take this subject very seriously.
Once you can effectively train your students to practice guitar you will enable them to play guitar in the way that they always wanted. On top of that, you will create a name for yourself in your local community and build a great reputation (helping you to quickly build your guitar teaching business).
Now, before I reveal the most effective ways for teaching your students to practice guitar, it is crucial that you assess your own guitar teaching skills. Take this guitar teacher skill assessment first (then continue reading the rest of the article).
The THREE Major Reasons Why So Many Guitar Students Don’t Know How To Practice
Reason 1: The great majority of guitar teachers out there use up nearly every moment of each guitar lesson teaching their students new information such as new scales, licks, techniques and so forth. The reason why this happens so much is because most guitar teachers feel obligated to teach new material so that their students don’t feel like they are being “ripped off”. Because guitar teachers are so afraid of this, they overwhelm students with tons of new ideas but only spend a fraction of the time actually showing them how to practice what they learn on guitar.
Reason 2: Whenever a guitar teacher actually does make the attempt to teach guitar practice concepts to a student, the teacher quickly tells them all of the steps that they need to do and assumes that they will both remember what was said and actually ‘do it’. For instance, while teaching two-handed tapping licks, guitar students frequently make the mistake of not muting the strings that are not being played (resulting in excess noise). Most guitar teachers will simply tell their students, “Remember to mute those strings when you practice on your own”, and will show them maybe once or twice how to mute the strings. That said, next week when the student returns… the strings still are not being muted properly! Why does such a thing happen?:
a) Students often assume they understood how to practice something you showed them but will often do it incorrectly at home.
b) If the student even remembers you telling them about the mistake, it is still unlikely that they will remember ‘how’ you told them to practice in order to fix it.
c) The majority of guitar students will totally forget what you said was the cause of the mistake in their playing and will practice incorrectly on their own until they see you again.
Because of these things, you will need to waste time going over what the student was supposed to have learned the previous week once again. This guitar teaching method totally fails for the following reasons:
1. You never check to assure that your guitar students are practicing properly because you have never actually observed the way that they practice. Watching your students ‘practice’ is different than just listening to them play. When you hear them play, you hear the ‘end result’, but you don’t actually see the process they used in order to produce it.
2. During the lesson, your students might think they know what needs to get done to practice effectively, but when they get home and pick up their guitar; they practice incorrectly or forget.
3. The student doesn’t have enough time to truly absorb the process for practicing guitar effectively.
Reason 3: In most cases, guitar teachers give their students very generalized practice advice as it applies to ‘anything’ on guitar. On the other hand, expert guitar teachers show their students many specific strategies for guitar practice based upon the students’ musical goals AND the specific challenges they are facing in their playing. This helps the student to make improvements and advance his/her guitar playing more easily than the student who only received ‘general’ advice on how to practice guitar.
Here Is What You Should Do
Now you should be totally on board with the idea that teaching guitar students how to practice is a crucial part of teaching guitar. I’ve shown you the way that guitar teachers fail to teach this, now here are the solutions that will help you get your guitar students to practice effectively and make better progress:
Solution Number One. Don’t give in whenever one of your guitar students tries to blow off the guitar practice section of their lesson. In many cases, students will tell you that they “Got it” when in fact, they really might not “Get it”. Remember, it is absolutely crucial for them to learn how to practice guitar correctly in order to get results. In situations when you can sense that your student is trying to rush through practice in order to learn something “new”, remind them that they will get better at a much faster pace once they can practice guitar effectively.
Solution Number Two. Your guitar students will not remember how to practice something when they get home if all you did was merely tell them for a brief moment how to practice it. You’ve got to both show them how to do it yourself AND then also have them show you. This is a subject that makes many guitar teachers feel nervous. Most teachers think that if they do not constantly flood the student with new material then the student will get bored and stop taking lessons. This is not true! The truth is, understanding how to effectively practice guitar is the key that will unlock your student’s potential and get them to advance toward the results that they desire. In essence, knowing how to practice guitar is the main thing they need to learn from you to get the RESULTS they want in their guitar playing. If they do not know how to practice guitar effectively, they will not make progress… THIS is the true reason why a student might stop taking lessons with you. With this in mind, getting your students to practice guitar properly (when they are at home away from you) should be your number one priority!
Solution Number Three. Use no more than 75% of the guitar lesson time for showing your students something new – reserving the rest of the time to teach them how to practice that idea effectively on guitar. Simply showing them how to practice for one or two minutes will not help.
Solution Number Four. Don’t make the same mistake that so many mediocre guitar teachers make by repeatedly asking your students to ‘play’ something several times so that you can observe what they are doing and ‘make corrections’. Truly successful guitar teachers have their students show them how they PRACTICED the material from the previous week so that they can see the root cause of any playing issues. Next, the guitar teacher will show the student in real time (as they are practicing) what needs to be fixed. This way the student gets the experience of correcting the mistake for himself/herself. When your guitar students can correct their own mistakes, they will quickly begin to make progress in their playing.
Solution Number Five. Don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions for your students. You are the expert for guitar, so naturally you will understand exactly why something doesn’t sound right, or what needs to be done in order to fix this or that issue. However, your students are NOT experts. You must show them precisely what to look and listen for when they practice guitar so that they do not forget. Additionally, write all of this information down for them so that when they get home they can easily identify all important steps and instructions.
Here are the steps that you should take right now in order to maximize the benefit you get from reading the information in this article:
1. Test your knowledge of how well you can get results for your students while teaching them to practice with this guitar teacher skill assessment.
2. Take the time to help your guitar students understand why learning how to practice guitar effectively is a major factor for their progress as a guitar player.
3. Don’t ‘wait’ to use what you learned in this article – begin implementing the ideas from above into every guitar lesson that you teach from now on.
Once you utilize the knowledge you have gained from this article you will start to see massive progress in your student’s guitar playing. Additionally, you will begin to develop a positive reputation for yourself as the very best guitar teacher in town!
About The Author: Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online, recording artist and the guitar player of the band Rhapsody Of Fire. He shows guitar teachers from around the world how to develop their guitar teaching businesses in his guitar teacher success program. Visit his website to receive many free guitar teacher training resources, and learn more about how to teach guitar.