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How To Teach Guitar Lessons — The Complete Teacher’s Guide

Alright! You’ve got your gear, you’ve got your portfolio, you’ve got your first student. It’s time to teach your first lesson and you’re wondering what the best approach is. In this article, we are going to teach you how to teach guitar lessons. 


Photo by Edward Eyer on Unsplash

How To Design Your Guitar Lessons Curriculum

Start with CAGED

Find songs that CAGED songs can play

Go back to the basics

Start With “CAGED” — How To Teach Guitar Lessons

There is something known as the CAGED system. No, it does not involve putting your students inside a cage, lol. CAGED basically refers to the first five basic chords that you should teach your student. 

They are very common chords. They don’t require that much finger movements and they are very popular. 

With a quick google search, you should be able to find tons of free resources to help you easily teach the CAGED chords. You can also some tips and tricks that would help your students learn these chords faster. 

Once your student is able to freely transition between these five chords, they should be able to play most pop songs of today. However, they can’t learn all of these on their first day. 

So, in each lesson, you can simply teach two chords and how to transition from one to the other. 

Find Songs That CAGED Chords Can Play — How To Teach Guitar Lessons

The next thing you want to do is to find chords that the new chords you’ve taught your student can play. This is what the student will use to practice his strumming patterns and speed. 

This will keep your students interested in the lessons as they can easily see their progress. This will motivate them to practice more and be excited every time you’re ready to teach. 

One thing you must keep in mind, though, is that your students won’t be able to play these songs perfectly. Don’t try to force them to score every single song when they’re still beginners. Leave room for mistakes, and teach them just the simplified version of each song. 

Once your students are beginning to get quick with their transitions, you can tell them to play along to a song, or sing while they play. All of these help to build confidence in your student, which in turn will make your student want to practice more. 

Go Back To The Basics — How To Teach Guitar Lessons

Now that your student knows how to play a few chords and they are excited about their lessons, it’s time to teach them the basics. The reason why we didn’t put this first is that they can be really boring and tiring to learn. 

For your students’ first few lessons, you want to show them that the guitar can be fun and entertaining. If it’s proving too difficult, tiring, or boring, they definitely will not hesitate to quit the class. 

You have to think about the reason they came in the first place. They probably saw their friends or their role models playing the guitar and said: “oh, I want to do that”. If they attend 5 lessons and they still can’t play anything, they might get discouraged. 

So, starting with those basic chords proves to them that they can do this and gives them the confidence to want to learn more. Now that they are eager, you can teach them basic guitar theory (notes, scale, parts of the guitar, and all that kind of stuff). 

Again, a quick google search on “Guitar Theory” should provide you with the necessary information to construct your next few lessons. Try to keep it as short and as easy to understand as possible. 

Even when you’re teaching music theory, always end the session on a high note either by letting them play a song they already know or teaching them a new song. This would keep them looking forward to the next lesson, which is what you want. 

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5 Main Tips On How To Teach Guitars Lessons

Make the lessons simple

Make the lessons fun

Be flexible with your lessons and your students

Teach your students to practice when you’re not around

Give them a lot of materials to practice with

How To Make Guitar Lessons Simple 

What you want to do is to keep the lessons straight to the point and simple. They don’t need to learn more than 2 new concepts in each lesson. Whatever concepts you want to teach, look for ways to simplify them. 

Yes, we know you want to pour every piece of knowledge into the students’ heads in as little time as possible but chill, okay? Chill. If you try to bombard them with knowledge, they can easily get overwhelmed and feel discouraged. 

How To Make Guitar Lessons Fun

Don’t be so uptight. They already deal with uptight teachers in their schools, they are not ready to deal with another one in an extra-curricular activity. 

If the lessons aren’t enjoyable, then they’re going to drop you like it’s hot and you’ll be left with no students in no time. 

So try to make each lesson fun, enjoyable, and engaging. Don’t be the one speaking or playing all the time. Allow them to ask a lot of questions, encourage them and make them know when they’re getting better. Positive reinforcement works, it does. 

Be Flexible

Yes, you still need to create a curriculum. However, you also need to make the curriculum flexible. Especially if you’re going to be teaching students on a personal basis, having a flexible curriculum you can tailor to their needs is important. 

You need to keep in mind what your student wants out of the whole learning process. This would help you tailor the lesson to fit their personal needs.

To understand each student, you can create a questionnaire that you give each student before they start the lessons. This would give you a general idea of what the students’ background in music is, the kind of music they want to play, and where they want to be in some time from the start of the lessons. 

Some people prefer learning theory first, some people prefer learning songs first. It’s in your conversation with each student that you’re able to understand what they want and how best to approach their lessons. 

Teach Them To Practice

One thing you definitely want to do is encourage your students to practice as much as possible. Practice might not make perfect but it definitely makes better. If your student only rehearses when you’re teaching, they’re not going to get very good. 

For your student to get better, they must be ready to practice in-between teaching sessions. To encourage this, you can give them take-home tasks, and targets to meet before the next lessons. 

For instance, you can teach them a few chords, and then tell them that by the next lesson they must have learned how to transition between the chords effortlessly. You can also give them a song for them to score before the next class. 

At the beginning of a new lesson, ask them for the tasks and how they were able to achieve it. If a student is having problems practicing, try to find out what’s wrong and how you can help. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Give Them Materials

Finally, don’t be scared to show your students some of the source materials you use to teach them. Send them videos of practices that would help them with their fingering, send them tutorials on how to play their favorite songs, send them tips and tricks that you find. 

This will help your student know that you have their best interest at heart. And chances are, if they don’t understand anything in what you’ve sent to them, they would gladly come to you for help. 

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Conclusion — How To Teach Guitar Lessons

You’ll need a lot of patience. Getting a student to learn a new concept is not very easy. It takes a great amount of patience to not flip out on the student. 

Also, learn to enjoy yourself. As much as you’re trying to impart knowledge, don’t forget your personal love and passion for both music and teaching. 

So, try not to get overwhelmed. If a lesson is getting too difficult, take a break. You and your students can just sit and talk or listen to music over a drink. Not only will this ease the tension, but it will also build a better teacher-student relationship which will aid learning. 

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How To Teach Guitar Lessons — Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start teaching guitar?

One of the best things you can do for yourself before you start teaching guitar is to take guitar lessons from a top-class teacher. This allows you to get the students’ perspective of learning and equips you to meet the students’ needs appropriately. 

Also, start off by learning to teach beginners as teaching advanced players will be more demanding and technical. Make good use of social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube to put your teaching skills out there and connect yourself with enthusiastic learners.

What should I charge for guitar lessons?

This is somewhat subjective, but there are a few guidelines that could help. Generally, your quality as a teacher dictates the fees you should charge for teaching guitar playing. 

In the United States, new teachers charge an average of $30 per hour. Award-winning and expert teachers can charge between $80 to $100 per hour. So, it’s really down to knowing your worth and what you have to offer. That said, you also need to consider your running costs and ensure that the income covers it so you can make a profit. 

What age is best to start guitar lessons?

It is generally advised that you start learning to play the guitar from an early age, depending on how good you want to get at it. Ideally, the minimum age to start learning to play is around 6 years old. 

By this time, an infant is equipped with the motor skills required to play the guitar at a  beginner level. However, individuals are different so the best age to start will differ across individuals. For some it might be 6, others 10 or even 18. There is no fixed age. Perhaps the best answer to this question is that the best age to start taking guitar lessons is when you are enthusiastic and ready to learn the guitar. 

How many lessons does it take to learn guitar?

It is not really about the number of lessons taken when it comes to learning the guitar. Rather, what is a determining factor is the number of hours put into learning the guitar and the effort taken to learn it. This is a more balanced metric. 

It is often said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master any skill, including guitar playing. This is nothing more than a guide, but a good guide, considering the technicality of guitar playing. Roughly speaking, it will take about 625 hours of practice to reach the beginner level of guitar playing, 1250 hours for intermediate level, and 5000 hours for expert level. 

Are guitar lessons worth it?

Guitar lessons are worth it. They offer you the opportunity to learn under experienced instructors. While it is true that you can choose to learn a guitar on your own, there are certain privileges that guitar lessons present that may not be enjoyed if you learn on your own. 

With guitar lessons, you are more likely to learn faster, as there will be a structured learning approach. Learning from an experienced instructor also helps you to pick up the proper techniques under the right supervision. 

You can also get timely feedback from your instructor because of the close interaction that guitar lessons afford. Note, however, that guitar lessons only make the most sense with experienced instructors. 

Can you self teach guitar?

There are many guitar players today who are self-taught. There are tons of materials and tutorials online that could be used as self-teaching guides. There’s so much you can learn on YouTube and learning to play the guitar is certainly one of them. 

You should bear in mind, however, that being self-taught will require lots of motivation and discipline from you. This is something you may not struggle with as much if you have an instructor. If you choose not to get an instructor, then make sure you get involved with a community of learners. Having a community of learners or even experienced players should help to keep you motivated and on course.

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