By: Pro Lessons
How to Give Guitar Lessons: Different Methods and Plans

One of the great job opportunities for a guitarist is the option of teaching. Showing interest in learning the guitar is a part of coming of age and that interest will only grow as it’s a very portable instrument and the guitar is so easy to express yourself on. You don’t have to be particularly great at guitar to teach either. It’s always helpful to learn from a master, but teachers are known for their ability to convey the material in a way the student can comprehend and replicate. Every guitarist is at a different level and styles vary a great deal, so giving lessons will obviously take on the skill, style, and personality of the teacher. Let’s try to break down some key methods of learning which will help us to determine how to give guitar lessons.

Simply Songs and Riffs

A guitar lesson can be 30 minutes, an hour, or even two hours. Obviously 30 minutes is all young students can manage, so one approach to giving guitar lessons could be teaching easy songs that the young student can identify. Two-three chord songs and four-five note melodies are in abundance, so just make a list of very familiar tunes and teach the student to play them your way. Now, that begs the question “Do I teach them music notes, teach out of books, or just wing it week-to-week?” Teaching will also help you grow as a player, because, to teach, you need a constant stream of new music yourself. Yes, the classic music books are a great way to let the pressure off of you and keep the students growing. But, first, can you read music notation?

How to Give Guitar Lessons from the Books

Let’s look at some of the common books that offer series for learning guitar. One of the cool things about the books is that you get to graduate from series to series and many guitar teachers offer recitals at your local church or music store. This helps the students feel the sense of accomplishment.

There are dozens of books out there, some of which are really good for learning and teaching guitar. Mel Bay books can be found at your local music shop and they are tried and tested. Also, “How To Play The Guitar” by Jerry Silverman, “Children’s Guitar Guide” by Happy Traum, and “Guitar For The Absolute Beginner” by Happy Traum are simple and fantastic books for beginners. You see, if you’re seven years old or 17 years old, you’ll want to start at the same place if you’re going to read notation.

How to Give Guitar Lessons: Different Methods and Plans

How to Give Guitar Lessons to Teens  

The challenge in teaching a teen is the music itself. If you're a classical teacher, no problem. If you teach modern guitar, however, it’s hard to get a teen to focus on “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” The teen is listening to dad’s classic rock and loves the band Journey. That means Neal Schon is their inspiration and “Mary Had A Little Lamb” ain’t cutting it. You might want to check out “Creative Guitar 1: Cutting Edge Tech” or some of the Journey Music Books themselves to help inspire your student. If your student’s a beginner, he or she may can not play a Neal Schon solo, but you can get them started reading tablature and teach them the theory behind the Neal licks.

Like any other age group, the key in how to give guitar lessons is that you want to make things interesting for your pupil. If a kid is never engaged, he probably won't be taking lessons for long and that guitar will soon be buried under dust.

Scales and Exercises - How to Give Guitar Lessons

You can’t make a diet solely out of scales and exercises and expect your student to stay interested. You might start the 30-minute class with a couple of exercises to warm up the fingers, then review a couple of scales that directly relate to the solo or song you’re about to play. The best thing is to make it relevant. For instance, the C Major Scale helps to set up a song in the key of C. Since fingering is a really big deal, it also helps the student to learn the fretboard as they learn songs. Let’s break here and lay out a basic 30-minute regimen to help you teach guitar lessons.

30 Minute Guitar Lesson Layout:

  • 4:00 to 4:03 - Greet the student and parent, get out the guitar and teach the student to tune the guitar with a tuner.
  • 4:03 to 4:10 - Do a couple of finger exercises and scales relating to the song you’re teaching the student.
  • 4:10 to 4:15 - Review the portion of the song from last week until student has it pretty recognizable.
  • 4:15 to 4:25 - Teach the student a new portion of the song and/or introduce a new scale and song.
  • 4:25 to 4:28 - Do a quick review of the scales and songs from past to present.
  • 4:28 to 4:30 - Break everything down and pack up. Your next student is here and waiting.

It’s going to vary from teacher to teacher and student to student, so make your own schedule. The more advanced the student is, the more things will adjust. If you are teaching mostly young beginners, you’ll teach the students all the same material and develop your method of teaching. When an intermediate or advanced student shows up, you’ll put them on a different track.

Teaching Intermediates and Advanced Students

It’s up to you to grow with your students. As a guitarist, you should be constantly learning new things. You need classic guitar songs as well as very modern pop songs. While it’s ok to recommend the new advanced student to the teacher 2 doors down, hopefully you’ll step up and take on the challenge of the advanced student and grow yourself. Go ahead and learn that Nirvana song or, on the other side of things, the new praise song for church on Sunday. The relationship will only grow deeper when you listen and learn something together. There’s tablature for just about every new song coming out. Download the tab and learn it so that you can teach it to your students.

Passing It On - How to Give Guitar Lessons

You probably learned some things the hard way. Maybe you even learned some bad habits as a player. Don’t be afraid to admit this and work with your students to do things the right way. Fingering can be subjective to the player, but learn it the way the original creator played it and break yourself from those bad habits or personal preferences. It might just teach you something. We, as teachers, are simply helping the next generation find their way. You’ve learned some things, so incorporate them into your method of how to give guitar lessons.

Whether you're someone who is new to guitar or an experienced guitar instructor, it never hurts to think of ways you can become a better player. At Pro Lessons, we are firm believers in the idea that some kind of consistent lesson plan taught by a good teacher is one of the best ways to progress as a musician. That's why our lessons are affordable and why we employ experienced instructors that have built their own musical career paths on the road. Teachers and students alike can find new and interesting ideas from these lessons that they may want to add to their own curriculum or playing styles. No matter where you're at, we think our instructors can give you a little something extra. Click on the link below to find out more.

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