Who’s in control of your Guitar lesson?
When teaching a Guitar student it is important to strike a balance between the strict, and the fun aspect of learning to play guitar. There are a couple questions to ask yourself about your lessons to see where you fall on the teaching spectrum as a teacher.
What comes first the Song or the Scale?
First, ask yourself who is in control of the lesson? We know what guitar students want and what guitar students need. The struggle might be is what comes first the song or the scale. Sometimes playing the scale first doesn’t quite supply the motivation or understanding to get to the song. Yet, the song sometimes can’t be played without the scale.
Explain and Model – Guitar Lesson 101
If your guitarist feels they are not accomplishing anything during lessons, or everything is an argument, you might be losing the battle. I like to use the “explain and model” approach. First explain to the student that the reason we need to learn this “scale” is so because it’s a vital part of the song. Without the scale (we’re using scale as an example here) we can’t play the song.
Then model the song bringing specific attention to the “scale”. Take out your guitar, or better, use the students showing them what their instrument can do and Model (play for the student) the song itself. After a run though, stop and show them where that scale is, maybe it shows up in a few places, etc. Be careful and don’t over explain it, just show your guitar student where it is.
Have them try it, if they are unsuccessful show teach them with encouragement that learning the “scale” can really help them play the song.
Dangling a Carrot Fails More then Wins!
If you use the song as a carrot and hold it over a students head that “if you play this scale you’ll be able to play the song” you rarely will win. The winning strategy is balance and empathy. Lets start with the song this week. Yes, lets play that really cool riff. Good feelings get you further then dangling carrots.
You’re not giving into a student if you choose what they choose, the only power struggle is the one you create. What you are doing is listening to their needs. There’s going to be a time when it has to be your way but always challenge yourself and ask why. Most times, you’ll realize that what we want as Guitar Teachers, doesn’t have to be the way we want it so save those times for when it really matters.
Have Fun All The Time
Giving a fist pump, or giving some points to earn guitar picks or any rewards you use can bring out an element of fun in a lesson. The natural human trait of competition, even with yourself, will help prompt good behavior, while at the same time almost seeming like a game-which is fun. It also eliminates the power struggle and who’s in control aspect of a lesson when both you and your guitar student are working together for a goal.