Teachers Lounge

The area is for guitar teachers who want to use Guitar Tutor Online as a teaching aid.

I use this site on a regular basis to teach my students and always refer my lessons to pages for study for the week. There are some site features that are specifically for teaching, for example the zoom_image button on Flash images. This is usefull for showing students lesson examples when they're sitting across the lesson room.

The site is setup to be learnt or taught from in a liner progression.

BEGINNERS -> Tuning -> The Basics -> Sheet Music -> Learning Strings -> etc.

and then...

INTERMEDIATE -> Bar Chords -> 5th Chords -> Intermediate Rhythm

then...

ADVANCED -> Scales -> Tablature & Technique

So basically as a teacher you have lesson plans for your students for roughly 1 to 2 years depending on your students talents.

My teaching philosophy is to encourage the interest and passion that my students have for music, by allowing them to learn the guitar through their favourite songs. There is no use in trying to force sight reading and music theory on a teenager who wants nothing more than to be in a band just for fun. I have always found music can only be successfully taught once someone has been playing for a little while, and they start to love the instrument. As they improve on the basics, their natural desire is to become better, and at that moment they realise they need to know (and most importantly, want to know) the theory they initially despised!

Danny Poole

Below are a couple of articles for anyone who is thinking about teaching the guitar.

A Summary on How to Teach the Guitar

Some teachers have a strict rule to how and what they teach and as a teacher this makes life much easier. Format to lessons are very important and you should always try to keep a written record of a student's progress. This also helps if you have a large number of students and you need prompting on what was taught in previous lessons.

The 1st goal of every student is to play a song, as their teacher you should let the student know, it helps to play songs if you understand:

  • notes and their timing
  • the music staff or tablature and its symbols
  • that you shouldn't start playing until you know how to hold & place your finger on the instrument

These are three broad steps but it gives you an idea on what steps are involved when tutoring new students. I always explain to my beginner students that the first few lessons will be slow, even a little boring to some as we have to get the basics out of the way before we can move onto songs. After all this is why they have come to you for lessons, not to be bored but to learn the correct techniques. Having students understand the importance of learning the correct technique is a priority.

I like to explain it like this; you can play the guitar with your thumb, one finger or even your nose if you want because most songs you'll start off learning will be that easy. But once you've learnt the song you will then move on to a more difficult song. That song will probably require you to use two or three fingers, this means all that work you did learning with thumb, nose or one finger has gone to waste and now you have to relearn using two or three fingers (the correct technique). So in summary, if you learn using incorrect technique it will take you longer because you'll have to keep on correcting your style as the styles and songs get harder.

I will always try to incorporate a student's favorite songs into a lesson as soon as possible and base learning around that. If they're more interested in what they're learning then they will learn faster. It is a good idea to have at least 10 beginner songs for them to choose from if they can not think of one themselves. I find the hardest students to teach are lessons that like any form of heavy metal or screamer bands as these styles of music are usually,

  • Fast
  • De-tuned
  • Have odd or difficult timing
  • Almost no easy (beginner) songs in these styles

Most of all, the people that like this style of music are usually in opposition to most other styles and this makes their learning scope narrow. For these types of students I will explain to them why they won't be able to start on these styles and let them know that even some of their favorite guitarists started with simple songs first up. I also like to get a list of some of their favorite bands/guitarists and do a simple Google search on their influences. Usually you'll find some easier songs & styles, then it relates to their favorite artist.

In other cases a student may not care about what he or she plays, this is good at first because it gives the teacher control over what to teach. I always encourage them to pick some of their favorite songs or styles to keep their interest level up in lessons.

As a teacher I would prefer to keep all lessons on finger exercises, playing technique, theory & scales for the first 6 months before even touching a song but then I wouldn't have any students so it is a good idea to find a compromise between the two and don't teach one more than the other.

Teaching the Guitar and Keeping Momentum in Practise

A student's momentum in playing and practice will help you evaluate their interest in playing.

When teaching, the lesson is broadly divided into two sections:

  • "Hands On" or "Contact Time". This is when you show a student how and what to play by demonstration or explanation
  • Student Analysis; This is when the student practises what was shown in the previous section (Hands On or Contact Time)

Both of these sections are important, the "hands on" section of the lesson is self explanatory and is essentially what the student is paying you for. The "Student Analysis" section is where you can analyse the student learning capabilities. Here you can correct any mistakes or bad habits employed from their learning the previous task.

Student analysis is where you judge their momentum. I have found that a student with low momentum will often stop after one practise through on their task then wait to be shown more. This can sometimes be like pushing a square rock on sand, as soon as you stop the demonstration the student stops with you. This can mean a couple of things,

1. The student is not interested in the exercise or song shown. To resolve this,

  • Ask the student if they are pleased with the song they're learning and if they would like to continue.
  • Give the student a list of your selections of songs they should be learning at their level
  • Let the student select 10 to 20 songs and you the teacher can sort in order of easiest to hardest.

2. This is the way the student thinks the lesson is structured and is waiting for the next example.

Either way, just explain to the student that this is the way lessons are structured and they must continue until you think they have it to a stage where they will remember it when they get home.

A student with high momentum will keep on practicing until they are asked to stop and move to the next task, like a boulder rolling down a hill. This is the ideal student as they are generally enthused about what they are doing and will retain what they are shown when practising at home. As a teacher you should be careful not to let the student go on for too long as this is a waste of their time when they could move on to another task. Remember they don't have to get it perfect, just to a stage where they can retain what they have learnt. Home practise is for perfection!

Another variable to this is when a student will stop playing the exercise or song shown and start playing something else. This generally means that they are not interested in what they are learning or find it too hard and want to reassure themselves with an easier, well learnt piece.

Remember, always ask yourself... WHY!... Teaching is about problem solving.

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