So you want to teach guitar? Great! Teaching is an incredibly rewarding career path, and it’s what inspires us everyday at TrueFire.
As a guitar teacher, you’re going to mold the mind of a fellow musician, and if you do your job right, you will give them all the tools that they need to become a great musician and perhaps even teach a few life lessons along the way. Music is a lifelong passion for many, and it does wonders for promoting good mental health and self-esteem.
However, getting to the point where you’re comfortable as a teacher can be a bit tricky, so below we’ve given 3 great tips for guitar teachers who are just starting out.
1. You’re Going to Be More Than Just a Guitar Teacher
A good teacher is never just a teacher. A teacher should inspire, be a shoulder to lean on, and above all be a stable role model in a person’s life. This is true regardless of whether your student is a child or an adult, but you have to be doubly aware of your actions when you’re teaching a child or a young teenager.
This is going to quickly sneak up on you when you start teaching, but as you build a relationship with your students you may find that some of them start to lean on you for emotional support or advice beyond the fretboard.
As long as you’re emotionally available to some degree, you can help them. A lot of the time, people are seeking more than just an instructor when they take guitar lessons. And you can be that person. In fact, if you want to keep that person as a long-time student, you’re probably going to be required to be that person.
Being a friend or a mentor can really pay off in the end, and you may even learn a thing or two about yourself in the process!
2. Mastering the Fundamentals is the Main Musical Requirement
A lot of people believe they need to be a great musician in order to be a great teacher, when in reality that’s not necessarily true. In fact, many great musicians and guitar players often times struggle as instructors, and sometimes the great teachers aren’t necessarily great guitarists. You need to be a great teacher to be a great teacher and being a great musician is an asset, not a requirement.
All you need to know to teach a beginner guitarist how to play are fundamental skills: how to tune a guitar, how to play basic chords and progressions, an awareness of basic music theory, some useful practice exercises, and a few easy songs you can teach. As long as you’re relatively competent as a guitar player and have a solid understand of guitar fundamentals, you have the potential to develop into a good guitar teacher.
You’ll eventually develop your own strategies and approach to teaching, and the musical skills that you’ll need to be a good teacher will come naturally as you get more experience as well.
3. You Need To Give Your Students Options
Becoming a good teacher isn’t easy, and there’s no one right way to do so. The main skill that you’re going to need to develop is the ability to relate information to a person in a way that they can understand. It varies from person to person, and experience as a teacher will help you learn how to adapt to individuals.
In order to engage your students, you’re going to want to make them feel like they have an input on their education. To do this, you need to offer your students the chance to give feedback on what and how they learn whenever possible.
For example, you want to teach your student Timmy how to play scales. It really doesn’t matter what order he learns those scales in, so long as he learns them. So to give Timmy some input, ask him whether he wants to learn the major scale first or the minor scale. Give him the basic rundown on how the scales sound and the differences between them, then let him decide on his own. He’s still doing what you want him to, but he is more likely to be engaged because he chose the direction the lesson would take.
Wrapping It All Up
While teaching guitar is certainly worthwhile endeavor, it is by no means an easy one. It is a huge commitment on your part, both in terms of time and effort, and it should be approached seriously and cautiously. However, if you do learn to become a great guitar teacher, there will be few things in your life that will be anywhere near as rewarding as giving someone the gift of music.
Have tips of your own for becoming a guitar teach? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below!
by Mason Hoberg