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Becoming a guitar teacher
By Jamie Andreas

Many people who play guitar, at one time or another, have entertained the idea of teaching guitar as well. I have often been asked by such a person "do you think I am ready to teach the guitar"? Very often, I discover that the person asking the question, even though they may be a reasonably advanced guitarist, feels that they are inadequate to the task. They are afraid of starting to teach. They usually feel they have to know everything before they start to teach the guitar.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth. One thing I realized when I started to teach was this: the only thing I need in order to be able to teach someone the guitar was to know at least one thing they didn't know! If I was able to convey that one thing to them, if I could make them able to do something on the guitar they couldn't do before, well then, I was teaching the guitar.

Now, if you want to continue teaching guitar, you better keep at least a few steps ahead of the person you are teaching, that's for sure. However, if you are a person who has had a lot of time to develop as a guitarist, or even simply enough time to develop to a moderate level of guitar ability, you would be amazed at how long you can continue with one student, transferring your knowledge.

For instance, if you are able to strum and sing first position chords, and have a fairly large repertoire of songs, chords and strums, you can take a new player quite a ways just teaching what you know. If you are serious about your own development, by the time they catch up with you, you will be far enough ahead to keep teaching them a lot of other things. This is especially true when teaching kids. The average kid, with the average practice time put in, can take many months before they are even changing 3 chords well enough to play a simple song well, and to sing with it. In the beginning of my teaching career, I had many young students, sometimes doing classes as well. With most of them, I never went beyond very elementary guitar skills.

I am saying all this to get across the point that if you are an adult who has played for awhile, and plays well enough to play songs, chords and or single note playing, then you are perfectly capable of teaching the guitar. In other words, you don't need to know any more about guitar in order to make a beginning effort at teaching. Don't worry, you'll get better at teaching the more you do it, provided you are giving some effort to think about what you are doing, learn what you can about teaching from me and other sources, and keep experimenting and modifying your approach for increasing effectiveness.

All guitar teachers are different. Some stay within very narrow niches in terms of style, or even in terms of their own development. Some player/teachers decide to stay with strumming and singing, and explore a particular style like folk or blues very extensively. Such a person can have as successful and rewarding a teaching career as a player of much more development and range, IF they are good at teaching what they DO know. Also, it is important to realize that teaching the guitar is one half people skills, and one half guitar skills. Under the right circumstances (with different types of students), strength in one area can compensate somewhat for weakness in the other, but I recommend making a good effort at development with both.

One very powerful resource for those wishing to try their hand at teaching guitar is something very close to my heart: The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar"! Nothing can make teaching the guitar easier and more rewarding than using The Principles in your teaching approach. The Principles eliminates the greatest obstacle any guitar teacher has: overcoming the obstacles to guitar performance presented by the torturous technical demands of the instrument.

It was all the years of hit or miss results with students that impelled me to formulate The Principles. Since they always work, with everyone, teaching became a joy. In fact, teaching became as fulfilling as my own practice became after I began to learn and use The Principles myself (long before I called them that). When I learned how to get results from my practicing, powerful results every time, it changed my attitude about practicing forever. Any teacher who uses The Principles will see the same thing happen in their teaching. They will see how easy it is to "build guitar players", one after another.

In fact, I would venture to say that unless a student has been introduced to The Principles, there is no way of knowing how good they could potentially be on the instrument. Without knowing how to practice correctly, any student has no choice but to be an underachiever.

And keep in mind one very important thing: there is no better method for learning anything than to begin to teach it. In fact, I usually begin to teach something immediately upon learning it. I am always studying a number of subjects at any given time, and as soon as I learn new concepts, I tell people about them. I don't think to myself that I am teaching, I am just sharing my enthusiasm for my recently acquired knowledge. I am quite consciously doing it more for my sake than theirs, I want to reinforce my understanding by putting everything in my own words. In addition, there is no better way of testing your own understanding of something than seeing if you can communicate it to someone else. So, I just try to hang around people who can put up with me doing this all the time! True, sometimes I start talking to a group of people, and when I am done talking, I am the only one left in the room, but at least I learned something! So, if you are interested in your own growth as a player, one of the best things you can do is to teach someone else to play, even if it is on an informal basis, with no professional structure to it.

If you feel you want to teach the guitar, the best thing to do is DO IT. If you keep at it with sincerity and industry, you will become a valuable guitar teacher. Later on, I will go into more detail about how this can be very valuable to you, and how you can take some simple and practical steps to building a teaching practice. . A competent guitar teacher is in great demand, and teaching the guitar can provide a very good income.

I invite anyone interested in teaching guitar to follow along as I guide Donna in her efforts to begin teaching with The Principles. The lesson plan I have outlined for her first lesson is here........

Copyright 2002 by Jamie Andreas. All Rights Reserved.


Back to Power Practicing main page - A site aimed at showing players how to reach their next level of playing ability, no matter what level they are currently at. This is done by teaching how to practice to get results, by using the principles of correct practice for guitar. It is also the perfect start for beginners, because it shows how to begin learning the guitar without getting all of the usual bad habits.

Other lessons and articles by Jamie

Why Are So Many Guitarists Masochists? - Discover Your Discomfort!
Changing Chords - Having a little trouble with those "easy" chords?
The Secret of Speed: Finding the Incredible Lightness
What Should I Practice?
Your growth as a guitarist: vertical or horizontal?
Your Hand is Your Band: The Importance of Fingering
Review is Required!
Teaching By Travel Brochure
Natural Talent
On Memorizing - Part One
On Memorizing - Part Two
Changing Bad Habits - Part One
Changing Bad Habits - Part Two
Aggressive Practicing
Thinking: What A Concept!
Conductor's Mind
Stage Fright Part 1
Stage Fright Part 2
Stage Fright Part 3
Teachers Lounge
Becoming a guitar teacher
Lost In Time
Climb Every Mountain
Making it
Becoming the music
Scales, who needs them? Why and What For, Anyway?!
Pulling Up The Slack: Mining Your Potential
Can I Teach Guitar?
Bricks & Mortar
The Inner Master
The Alone Place
The Meaning of Life
My personal work habits
How to nail a solo
Removing The Barriers To Musical Expression
AC/DC - Back in Black
Metallica's "One"
What Is Real Practice On Guitar?
The Learning Curve of Various Styles of Guitar

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