I Teach Guitar?
There are many people asking this question. There
are many people feeling a need to teach other people how to
do this thing we all do, and to play this instrument we all
love. They are perhaps asking this question for different reasons;
some may be looking for fulfillment, some may be looking for
a job, and hopefully many are doing both.
And very likely, the person asking this question
is feeling some degree of doubt about their ability to teach,
doubt about either their guitar knowledge, or their teaching
Well, the first thing to be clear about is that
neither of these doubtful things need be, or should be, the
object of our first concern. You will never know what your teaching
skills are until you begin to teach. And as far as guitar knowledge
goes, the only requirement for teaching someone anything is
this: you must know at least one thing the person you are teaching
doesnt! Teach them that, and then do your best to keep
at least one step ahead of them so you can keep on teaching
them! If you know more than one thing the other person doesnt,
you are already ahead of the game!
There is only one thing that will determine whether
you can successfully teach the guitar, and that is your deeply
felt enthusiasm for causing another person to be able to play
the guitar. That is it. If you have that, you will do everything
else right as you go along, or quickly find out how to do so.
If you do not have a deeply felt enthusiasm for causing another
person to be able to play the guitar, then it doesnt matter
what else you have, you wont be able to teach.
So please, if you are asking yourself this question
can I teach the guitar, find the answer to this
one first how does it feel to teach someone? How
do I feel when someone really gets it, and learns
to play? How do I feel when someone doesnt?
And of course the all important question: what
do you do when someone doesnt get it?
If you find the right answers to those questions,
you will find the answers to all the rest.
To tell you the truth, I wish that everyone who
studies my methods would begin to teach, the sooner the better
( I will only request a 24 hour waiting period after beginning
to play!) And why is this? It is because teaching is simply
an extension of our own learning process. It is because teaching
is the most powerful way of learning. Being a teacher is the
other side of being a student.
Teaching should be a natural process. It is a
natural process of sharing the passion of your own process of
learning with another person. The desire to share what you are
learning with someone else is as natural as the desire to tell
someone a good joke you just heard. The sharing intensifies
the experiencing of what is shared. And so it is in teaching.
There is simply no better way to learn something than to teach
While it is not true that every player needs to
be, or can be, a teacher, it is true that every teacher needs
to be, and should be, a player. And it doesnt matter what
level of player, you can teach guitar no matter what level of
player you are.
You can be a new player, and be a great teacher.
You can be a longtime player and be a lousy teacher. A new player
can also, in essence, be a great player, no matter how little
knowledge they have of playing, and a longtime player
can, in essence, be a lousy player, no matter how much knowledge
they have. That is because the essence of being a player is
the joy of the person playing. Being a guitar player is not
simply the ability to produce music on the guitar,
any more than the ability to run around and swing on monkey
bars is the essence of a child at play in the playground. It
is the feeling with which the activity is engaged that make
it play, not the activity itself.
I was a great player the first time I picked up
a guitar, because the joy I found in playing was overwhelming.
Even though I was picking out, by ear, a single note melody
to one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, it was an experience
I will never forget; hearing those sounds I loved coming through
my fingers. It is essentially the same feeling I have now when
I play a Bach fugue.
Likewise, I was a great teacher as soon as I started
teaching, because the emotional experience of enabling another
person to play the guitar moved me in my deepest places. This
does not mean that there was not world of things to learn about
playing and teaching. I would build those structures as time
went by. It simply means I had the proper ground to build them
If someone with this joy of playing also has a
great enthusiasm for sharing that joy with others, they are
perfectly disposed to become great teachers. Their enthusiasm
for sharing that joy, and spreading the joy of playing music
by planting it in other people, will lead them to pull out of
themselves resources they already possess, and then, lead them
to develop, and seek out more.
A player who can access their inner joy through
playing does not worry about being a great player, they do not
doubt themselves; they are too busy playing. And a teacher who
feels a deep enthusiasm for enabling others to play does not
worry about teaching, or doubt themselves as teachers. This
does not mean they are not on the lookout for weaknesses and
ways to improve. It simply means that dealing with weaknesses
and ways to improve is part of the joyful process.
And so, the question is not can you teach the
guitar, of course you can! The question is will you teach the
guitar. Will you feel the joyful process when you sit down with
another human being and you are both holding guitars? It will
have very much to do with the joy you feel when you sit by yourself
with a guitar in your lap.
Teachers of the guitar have never had it better,
and I say that for two reasons: 1) the technologies for playing,
recording, and studying music are breathtaking (especially to
those of us who remember the days of slowing down vinyl and
using drum drop backgrounds), and 2) The Principles
makes the actual technical process of teaching the guitar a
systematic, scientific, and flawless process for anyone who
uses them in teaching. If you use The Principles in teaching,
you will have the means to be as effective in teaching as it
is possible to be.
It is because so many players using The Principles
have seen their power to create results that they have become
interested in checking out the possibility of teaching. As they
begin to see the immediate improvement in their playing, and
the continuation of that improvement, they realize this
business of learning the guitar, if rightly understood, and
rightly performed, can be done successfully by anyone.
And they are right, it can, especially anyone who uses The Principles.
In the few short years that The Principles have
been around, we have been excited and honored to see a number
of people decide to take up teaching, using The Principles and
its methods (as well as The Path), as the foundation
of their approach. They are adapting my methods, and creating
new ones, and finding themselves with many reasons to be supremely
confident in their ability to really do it, really
make other people able to play.
Of course, they are also finding that teaching
is nothing but an extension of their own passion and process
of learning, because that is what true teaching is. There is
no such thing as a good teacher who is not a good student. Any
good teacher sees teaching as a part of their own growth as
students of their subject, and I know that this is true of the
teachers we presently have.
And the best teachers see it as something much
more as well. The best teachers see the process of teaching
as what it really wants to be in its highest spiritual
sense: a relationship based on love, love and the highest good
will; love of music, love of guitar, and mutual love and appreciation
for each other on the part of the student and the teacher.
To be able to give another person something so
precious as artistic fulfillment in the form of playing the
guitar, especially if it is felt to be so precious by that person,
and perhaps has eluded them for years, is tremendously fulfilling.
Once you feel that, you will know whether you are a teacher
Principled Teachers like Drew and Donna, both
of whom report their teaching experiences in our forum Using
The Principles In Teaching have felt this may times. Anyone
wishing to begin teaching can do nothing better than to study
their reports, and emulate the sincerity and intensity of their
Some teachers spend their whole career teaching
one style, or staying at one level of teaching, and there is
nothing wrong with that, as long as you are always honest about
what you do, and never try to serve your purposes instead of
the students. If you know that the purposes of a student would
be better served by another teacher, you must direct them to
Some teachers teach only strumming and singing,
often in continuing education type settings, and that is a wonderful
way for new players to discover the guitar. Many people who
are thinking of teaching can start this way, rather than thinking
they need to become masters of the guitar before they ever show
someone their first chord!
And so, if you are asking yourself Can I
teach the guitar?, think it over in terms of what I have
said here. After that, if you feel you would like to make a
beginning, do so.
Find an interested person, (it could be a family
member, neighbor, etc.), and begin teaching them on an informal
basis, for no money. You will discover what you need to know
about yourself as a teacher of guitar. When you have proven
to yourself that you have the ability to get results with students,
begin to charge for your work.
Study The Principles, and study the lesson plans
and approaches on our site. Teach to the end of your knowledge
and understanding, and then work to go beyond.