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

Design Your Curriculum — How To Teach Guitar Lessons

Just like regular school, if you’re going to be teaching guitar lessons, you definitely have to design a curriculum. Forget how difficult it sounds, designing a basic curriculum for teaching guitar lessons isn’t that hard. 

In fact, we’re going to help you with a basic curriculum that you can build upon to teach your students. You’re welcome. 

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. 

5 Main Tips — How To Teach Guitars Lessons

Make The Lessons Simple 

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. 

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. 

Make The 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. 

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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