How To Get Your Guitar Students To Practice Effectively
Does it feel like a major challenge to get your guitar students to make big improvements in their guitar skills on a consistent basis? If you have experienced the frustration of teaching guitar to students who seem to ‘never make progress’, then I totally understand where you are coming from. Many years ago I was in the same situation that you are in and it is a fact that most guitar teachers do not really know how to get big results for their guitar students.
Although there are tons of reasons why most guitarists who take lessons never become great musicians, in the end a lot of your success as a guitar teacher will depend on your ability to effectively teach your students to practice.
Even if you show your guitar students a million different licks, solos or techniques, it will all go to waste if you do not correctly teach your students to practice the things you show them. It is absolutely CRITICAL that you learn how to do this if you want to succeed as a guitar teacher and give your guitar students the results that they are paying you for.
Once you can effectively train your students to practice guitar you will enable them to play guitar in the way that they always wanted. On top of that, you will create a name for yourself in your local community and build a great reputation (helping you to quickly build your guitar teaching business).
Before I get into the details of how you can do this, it is important for you to understand where you are at right now in your understanding of teaching guitar. Test your guitar teaching knowledge right now by filling out this guitar teacher assessment.
The THREE Major Reasons Why So Many Guitar Students Don’t Know How To Practice
Reason 1: The great majority of guitar teachers out there use up nearly every moment of each guitar lesson teaching their students new information such as new scales, licks, techniques and so forth. The reason why this happens so much is because most guitar teachers feel obligated to teach new material so that their students don’t feel like they are being “ripped off”. Because guitar teachers are so afraid of this, they overwhelm students with tons of new ideas but only spend a fraction of the time actually showing them how to practice what they learn on guitar.
Reason 2: Some guitar instructors do put ‘some’ effort to show their students how to practice guitar, but this effort comes in the form of a very short instruction (that the student quickly forgets). Take the following for example: While showing students how to play clean and articulated arpeggios, it is common for the student to struggle to separate one note from the other without ringing together. In many cases, the guitar teacher will advise the student to make sure not to allow the different notes to ring at the same time when they practice on their own in between lessons. They may even demonstrate how this is done a few times before the lesson is over. Unfortunately, this does not truly help the guitar student in a way that ‘sticks’ and the student ends up committing the same mistakes over again during the following entire week of practicing. When the next lesson comes, the problem is still there – but why? Why is it that many guitar students continue making the same mistakes while practicing even after being told/shown otherwise? Here are the reasons:
a) The majority of guitar students will totally forget what you said was the cause of the mistake in their playing and will practice incorrectly on their own until they see you again.
b) If the student even remembers you telling them about the mistake, it is still unlikely that they will remember ‘how’ you told them to practice in order to fix it.
c) Students often assume they understood how to practice something you showed them but will often do it incorrectly at home.
All of this translates into you having to re-teach the student how to practice what they learned on guitar the next week (when they should’ve already been making progress from last week!). Here is why this approach to teaching guitar practice is a total failure:
1. The student doesn’t have enough time to truly absorb the process for practicing guitar effectively.
2. During the lesson, your students might think they know what needs to get done to practice effectively, but when they get home and pick up their guitar; they practice incorrectly or forget.
3. You never check to assure that your guitar students are practicing properly because you have never actually observed the way that they practice. Watching your students ‘practice’ is different than just listening to them play. When you hear them play, you hear the ‘end result’, but you don’t actually see the process they used in order to produce it.
Reason 3 . Many guitar teachers give guitar practice advice to their students in a generic, all-encompassing manner. That said, highly trained guitar teachers teach their students a variety of guitar practicing strategies that are specific to their goals and challenges. This helps guitar students of those teachers to make much faster progress than those students who only learn a few general guitar practice principles that they are supposed to apply to everything they learn.
Here Is What You Should Do
Now you should be totally on board with the idea that teaching guitar students how to practice is a crucial part of teaching guitar. I’ve shown you the way that guitar teachers fail to teach this, now here are the solutions that will help you get your guitar students to practice effectively and make better progress:
Solution Number 1. When you teach your guitar students something new, spend a significant amount of time (about a quarter of the lesson) showing them how to practice it. Do not show them a ton of new stuff without helping them learn how to actually practice it.
Solution Number 2. Your guitar students will not remember how to practice something when they get home if all you did was merely tell them for a brief moment how to practice it. You’ve got to both show them how to do it yourself AND then also have them show you. This is a subject that makes many guitar teachers feel nervous. Most teachers think that if they do not constantly flood the student with new material then the student will get bored and stop taking lessons. This is not true! The truth is, understanding how to effectively practice guitar is the key that will unlock your student’s potential and get them to advance toward the results that they desire. In essence, knowing how to practice guitar is the main thing they need to learn from you to get the RESULTS they want in their guitar playing. If they do not know how to practice guitar effectively, they will not make progress… THIS is the true reason why a student might stop taking lessons with you. With this in mind, getting your students to practice guitar properly (when they are at home away from you) should be your number one priority!
Solution Number 3. Many guitar teachers feel pressured when they are trying to show their guitar students how to practice and the student says something like “Ok I get… can we talk about X already?” Don’t cave in when your guitar students try to take control of the lesson like this. Make sure that your students truly ‘get it’ 100% so that when they get home they don’t realize that they really don’t ‘get it’ and end up practicing wrong. Remind them that by learning how to properly practice guitar they will reach their guitar playing goals much faster.
Solution Number 4. Don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions for your students. You are the expert for guitar, so naturally you will understand exactly why something doesn’t sound right, or what needs to be done in order to fix this or that issue. However, your students are NOT experts. You must show them precisely what to look and listen for when they practice guitar so that they do not forget. Additionally, write all of this information down for them so that when they get home they can easily identify all important steps and instructions.
Solution Number 5. If your guitar students are having a difficult time playing their lesson materials for you during their next lesson, don’t merely ask them to ‘play it again’. This is the mistake that average guitar instructors make. Truly effective guitar instructors get their students to show them how they PRACTICED the material they learned in order to see the fundamental cause of any playing errors. Next, they will help the student understand what it is that they need to listen for during their guitar practice time so that they can correct any mistakes without additional guidance. This approach is highly effective at getting guitar students to progress faster on their own.
Here are the steps that you should take right now in order to maximize the benefit you get from reading the information in this article:
1. Develop a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a guitar teacher by testing yourself with this guitar teacher assessment.
2. Take the time to help your guitar students understand why learning how to practice guitar effectively is a major factor for their progress as a guitar player.
3. Don’t ‘wait’ to use what you learned in this article – begin implementing the ideas from above into every guitar lesson that you teach from now on.
Once you have fully integrated the ideas of this article into your guitar teaching approach you will begin seeing progress in your guitar students like you’ve never seen before. On top of that, you will find yourself quickly becoming the most in demand guitar teacher around!
About The Author:
Tom Hess is a successful guitar teacher, composer and the guitar player for the metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He shows guitar instructors from countries worldwide earn big money teaching guitar. On his music instruction website tomhess.net you can learn how to teach guitar and get help with building your guitar teaching skills.