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  • Teaching a guitar class for the first time

    Hi, I'll be teaching a guitar class as part of an after school program for 10-16 year olds and I was just looking for a some general advice. I will be teaching 2 classes with around 8 kids each and an hour each one a beginner class and the other advanced. I don't really have experience teaching but do have basic music theory knowledge. I plan on putting a lesson plan together and was wondering what I should include or start with, what questions to ask my first class and what simple chord songs to start with. ANY help or advice would be great.
    MIA Lonestar Strat
    Series 10 Strat copy

    Montana no name acoustic
    No name classical used as stage prop w/ hole in back
    Epiphone AJ-VS200
    Fender Vibro Champ XD
    line 6 spider 50watt

    Pedals scare me.

    Pearl Export 6-piece fusion w/ b8 cymbals.

  • #2
    It's tricky. Most people in the younger age groups do not stick with it, so you have to find a way to keep their interests. However, you also have to get them through fundamental exercises, which even older beginners don't like.



    But, don't be afraid to be firm with them. If they don't practice, let them know it's not okay.
    .

    Comment


    • #3
      I applaud you in putting together a lesson plan together. Those trying to teach without some forethought, structure and goals to reach are the teachers to be avoided.



      Because the question gets asked here so often of what to look for in a good teacher. I've put together a list of things to look for/ask for when searching for someone to teach them to play the guitar. Perhaps some of these points may be helpful to you. I wish you all the best in your new endeavour.



      How To Choose a Good Guitar Instructor





      Do not look for a guitar teacher at a music store. Music stores are mainly interested in selling equipment. They likely have first rate equipment and second rate teachers. There is the odd exception where an instructor will rent space within a music shop and has no other ties to the music store. Go to a music studio, where their first concern is teaching. They will likely have first rate teachers and some even sell second rate equipment.



      Here are some questions you should ask.



      1) How long have you been teaching?

      2) How many students do you presently have?

      3) How many of your students have been with you over one year?

      4) Ask for two or three references.

      5) What structure do you use for teaching?

      6) Do you teach your students to read music?

      7) What types of music do you teach?

      8) How much do you charge and what are the lengths of your lessons?



      Numbers 5 and 6 are, in my opinion, the most important.



      Also, don't be afraid to ask questions! You are the one paying for them and you deserve to get the best teacher you can for your money. Lessons are not cheap!

      Here is an additional guide I found online from the Learn & Master Guitar site.

      July 2012
      Foul language is the sign of a weak mind trying to express itself forcibly. * Thankfully, my computer program masks all the foul language and changes it to @&%)7#

      Comment


      • #4
        Try this: http://www.teachguitar.com/teaching/index.htm



        For kids, I think it is a good idea that they learn to read music (basic) no sharps or flats in the beginning and get them to play like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, London Bridge, Old MacDonald, Old Joe Clark, Mary Had a Little Lamb and the likes. Using these songs the student will be able to build up the confidence in learning timing and note reading. And they may stay motivated to practice. Also their parents will have that smile when the child plays them songs for them after a couple weeks of lessons.
        "Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a look at the American Indian" — Henry Ford

        Comment


        • #5
          In my experience (16 years teaching in MUSIC STORES where most parents & students look for lessons) ) going for the simplest melodies is the best way to start. I'd usually start with Star Wars, James Bond theme, something familiar along those lines. The Beatles, one of their simpler tunes. The fewer strings the better. Then from there you could expand to open chords, power chords if you've got rock kids in the class. That's lead to the best student retention and enthusiasm. IMO, busting out the theory too fast is a major turn off to the young ones...as much as we know they need it!
          www.keith-moore.net
          All things guitar: Blog, jam tracks,
          articles, lessons, stuff!

          Comment


          • #6
            I teach kids from age 8-11 at schools, and a few older ones privately.

            For 10-16 year olds (beginners), you don't want kiddie stuff like Twinkle Twinkle or Old MacDonald. Rock riffs will probably be what they want - although at this time of year a simple Christmas tune like Jingle Bells might be a good beginner tune (key of G is best); melody only.

            Smoke on the Water is pretty failsafe, for any age, and is easy enough (on 1 string anyway) for total beginners.

            As bdemon says, it has to be tunes they're familiar with, so TV and film themes are a good bet - they'll be tricky for beginners, but probably OK for the other group. My kids all like the Simpsons theme, but it's challenging for all but the most experienced ones. A simplified version of the 007 theme can be good.

            The simpler chords like E, A, Em, Am, D may be OK for beginners, but will be hard work (for you and for them!).

            Don't touch theory! (except to name what it is they're doing, such as note names and chord names.) I would recommend teaching notation, however, maybe combined with tab. Some will get it and appreciate it, many won't. (I use a book for the 8-11 year olds which is notation only, and few have any trouble with it.)



            For the advanced class, I'd start by checking what they all know already. Write a list for each of them (for yourself I mean), with what they know - which chords or tunes - what kind of things they like listening to and want to play, if they can read, etc. Really important to set up that dialogue first, get a feel for where they're at; make it plain you're there to help them to where they want to go, not to lay yet another school lesson on them .

            Then (for next lesson) you can plan how to proceed. If you want more to do in lesson 1, try a simple jam on one or two chords, to check their feel for rhythm, accuracy of fingering, etc., and maybe any improv skills already present. ("Advanced" could cover everything from "just past beginner", up to "several years experience" .)

            As with beginners, best not to get into theory at all. Make it totally practical, and only bring up theory issues if anything needs explaining (eg if they ask "why" about anything). Even if they do seem curious about theory, you'll probably find even the basics get their eyes glazing over.



            In general, you'll find the ones that get on fastest will be those with musical parents. As mentioned, insist on practice between lessons, but don't get heavy with them. Presumably, they have all chosen to be in these classes, nobody is making them go. Just explain that it's practice that will make them good - the more the better. If they don't care enough to find the time - then they're wasting their time (and yours). But they don't have to care! (They can stop and leave the class whenever they want.)
            ...

            Comment


            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by JonR
              View Post

              I teach kids from age 8-11 at schools, and a few older ones privately.

              For 10-16 year olds (beginners), you don't want kiddie stuff like Twinkle Twinkle or Old MacDonald. Rock riffs will probably be what they want - although at this time of year a simple Christmas tune like Jingle Bells might be a good beginner tune (key of G is best); melody only.

              Smoke on the Water is pretty failsafe, for any age, and is easy enough (on 1 string anyway) for total beginners.

              As bdemon says, it has to be tunes they're familiar with, so TV and film themes are a good bet - they'll be tricky for beginners, but probably OK for the other group. My kids all like the Simpsons theme, but it's challenging for all but the most experienced ones. A simplified version of the 007 theme can be good.

              The simpler chords like E, A, Em, Am, D may be OK for beginners, but will be hard work (for you and for them!).

              Don't touch theory! (except to name what it is they're doing, such as note names and chord names.) I would recommend teaching notation, however, maybe combined with tab. Some will get it and appreciate it, many won't. (I use a book for the 8-11 year olds which is notation only, and few have any trouble with it.)



              For the advanced class, I'd start by checking what they all know already. Write a list for each of them (for yourself I mean), with what they know - which chords or tunes - what kind of things they like listening to and want to play, if they can read, etc. Really important to set up that dialogue first, get a feel for where they're at; make it plain you're there to help them to where they want to go, not to lay yet another school lesson on them .

              Then (for next lesson) you can plan how to proceed. If you want more to do in lesson 1, try a simple jam on one or two chords, to check their feel for rhythm, accuracy of fingering, etc., and maybe any improv skills already present. ("Advanced" could cover everything from "just past beginner", up to "several years experience" .)

              As with beginners, best not to get into theory at all. Make it totally practical, and only bring up theory issues if anything needs explaining (eg if they ask "why" about anything). Even if they do seem curious about theory, you'll probably find even the basics get their eyes glazing over.



              In general, you'll find the ones that get on fastest will be those with musical parents. As mentioned, insist on practice between lessons, but don't get heavy with them. Presumably, they have all chosen to be in these classes, nobody is making them go. Just explain that it's practice that will make them good - the more the better. If they don't care enough to find the time - then they're wasting their time (and yours). But they don't have to care! (They can stop and leave the class whenever they want.)






              Jon you are right about the age. Usually at the age of 12 they are in tune with the radio and know what is hip. I know the older kids 12 and above want to learn them riffs and complete songs and it is wise to teach them. Of course Mary Had A Little Lamb is not going to go to far, but adding that with sight reading and adding their interest into the class maybe keeps the child more motivated during the week of practicing on their own.
              "Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a look at the American Indian" — Henry Ford

              Comment


              • #8
                Heck no...avoid nursery rhymes like the plague! But something like The Simpsons or Star Wars, even a pop culture standard like Another One Bites the Dust or Superfreak. Might cross into a little cheese, but it puts a smile on their face playing it.
                www.keith-moore.net
                All things guitar: Blog, jam tracks,
                articles, lessons, stuff!

                Comment


                • #9
                  For beginners:

                  "Somebody that I used to know" has a simple, catchy melody and it's a relatively new and popular song. I think it can make a great stave reading exercise.

                  For chords, try giving them couples of chords that are easy to change between, like Am and C (changing from Am to C requires changing the position of only one finger),

                  E and Am (each finger is moved one string up/down and stays at the same fret) G7 and C, and so on.
                  I used to be "with it", then they changed what "it" was.
                  Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.
                  (Abe Simpson)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks guys, keep it coming I'll post my lesson plan in a few days.
                    MIA Lonestar Strat
                    Series 10 Strat copy

                    Montana no name acoustic
                    No name classical used as stage prop w/ hole in back
                    Epiphone AJ-VS200
                    Fender Vibro Champ XD
                    line 6 spider 50watt

                    Pedals scare me.

                    Pearl Export 6-piece fusion w/ b8 cymbals.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Something that I would add in addition to the great advice people have given here, I would add one thing: form the rules right at the start and be consistent in sticking to them. Write them on a poster and hang them up in the classroom if you think it suitable. That way everyone knows what the rules are and can't complain that you're favoring someone/a specific group in the class, or that it's somehow unfair if you do hand out a punishment.



                      Also, on that note, make it a two way thing. Something I did with the classes I teach is to ask students in the first lesson what they think would be suitable rules for the class, and this way they cannot moan about rules being unfair because they were the ones who helped set them, and can't say they're having something imposed upon them.
                      Originally Posted by Motorik


                      [Prog rockers are] all babes. It's like the Miss World contest, but with sudden changes of time-signature.

                      Comment



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