My One Goal When Teaching Guitar

Although that might sound like I’m trying to hook you in. I really only have one goal when teaching guitar. It’s definitely NOT what you think!



My one goal is this:



“To give the student the tools and skill to enable them to teach themselves”



Read it again, it’s not about me teaching them to play guitar super-fast or for them to motivate themselves to practices for hours and hours each day or for me to make loads of money from them in lesson fees. It’s about them.


By the way, it doesn’t matter if you are a “real” student, I see face to face. Or if you’re a “virtual” one – who’s sat half way around the world, the same goal still applies.


Of course, I’m there to teach the student new ideas (songs, techniques, theory, scales, chord etc.), help problem solve, motivate them during the lesson to push a little bit harder and define what they should be practicing at home. So that they practice and they achieve their goals. Yes, all of this matters but my end goal matters more.


So what does it all mean, how do I make it work? How can you apply it to your advantage?



Why you need a guitar teaching

Firstly, there are a number of things you really need a guitar teacher for. Whether you paid someone locally to help you with this list or you have a friend who doesn’t mind helping you.


The basics:

  • How you sit, hold the guitar
  • The different hand positions
  • Open chords
  • Rhythm, time and timing
  • Understanding of basic theory concepts


I’d add these, too:

  • Basic scales (Major, Minor, Pentatonic, Blues)
  • Knowledge of the CAGED system
  • An understanding of the blues
  • The basics of soloing
  • How to practice
  • Efficiency of movement



Of course knowing songs is just as critical as these two lists but that’s somewhat obvious!


Let me just clarify, an important point here. I believe someone needs to show you the basics, face to face, so they can check that you are doing it right, they can hear when you’re fluffing the third string – even though you think you’ve got it! They can correct your sitting or hand position when it’s wrong or slipped. Books, DVDs, YouTube and all of those good things are great but you have to have someone walk you through the basics – first.



Guitar Skills

Back to those two lists! All of these are either skills or tools.


For example, you need to know why you would use a certain chord voicing over another one. The skill is knowing which one you should pick, whereas the tool is know the different voicings that are available.


Just like the tool is knowing that you can play 8th superbly in time and will great feel. The real skill here is being able to slightly push and pull the beat to give the song a human feel which will sound like you’ve been playing that song for ever!


Like I’ve talked about before a big tool, for me is being able to slow down a few bars or passage, master it slowly and then get it up to tempo – without mistakes. The skill is being willing to use this method or practice tool, which when done properly will ensure you see fast progress.



Moving past guitar basics

Once you’ve learn how to practice effectively and efficiently, learnt how to build chords from the ground up and know some scales/licks and solo tricks then you’re nearly there. The only other skills you need, is to learn how to hear the chord changes and the melody line, then how to write it out in music and TAB.


When you have all of these together, you’ll be able to progress by yourself, as long as you put in the work and set goals. You should be fine.


This could take you years, it could in fact take you months – that the difference between having a good teacher and a GREAT one.



I like to think of it like this, it’s a bit like building a house. Start by getting the foundations in strong and in the right place. Then building a home which will last. This should be easier to build as you’re not corrected other people’s  mistakes.



You, see when a student get to a certain place, where there skill level is good and their foundations are strong, it’s rewarding to see them fly, and come back from time to time to just have a check-up and to have someone to remain accountable too.

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