As guitar teachers we should always embrace the private lesson student who wants to learn a new song on guitar. Students take guitar lessons to learn how to play so lets fight the urge to hold them off until they learn that next technique.
The Guitar Lesson Dilemma
With Guitar lessons, and all lessons in general sometimes a teachers perspective is different then a students. As teachers, we want the best for our students. Sometimes that means taking our lesson time to work on scales, chords, and theory which leaves us less time to learn songs.
While this Dilemma won’t go away it’s nice to have a reminder that students didn’t sign up to be students but to play guitar. Balance between playing songs and learning to be a guitarist is key to a lessons success.
Learning A New Song – This Egg Comes Before The Chicken
If a student of mine doesn’t have a song they can play, this has to come first. Self esteem on the instrument stems from being able to sit down and play something and if a student can’t play a song, their likely not going to enjoy lessons. So step 1 for me, is the get students playing a song.
Then You Begin To Make It Better (Hey Jude, The Beetles)
If step one is to learn a song, step two is almost always making it better. This is what teachers live for, teaching students not just to play something but play it well. I love showing a guitarist what it takes for them to bring out the best in a song. This is where you can work on technique, theory, scales, etc.
You should still (as the guitar teacher) be careful not to beat it into the ground to much. Think back to your playing early on, how super cool it was to play a lick or a song. Now thing about if what you were doing way back then was perfect or how you would do it today. Don’t rob that joy from a student by making it to hard to accomplish the tune or lick.
Rinse And Repeat
If we think about playing, then making it better the process of lessons becomes one of doing that over and over again. I bet as guitar teachers, if we look back on students who stopped taking lessons they were always doing just one of these two aspects (playing and refining) far more then another. Simply cycle through this process and your guitar lessons will continue on and your students will grow and achieve.
Avoid The Trap
The trap we are trying to avoid as music teachers seem to work too much on technique, theory and scales, and not enough song playing. We are so proud of know the best way to do something that they forget why we love doing it. To play a new song on guitar!
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