First Time to Teach Guitar!

by Sandy
(Singapore)

Hi, I'm a guitar fan. I learn guitar by looking on the internet, asking friends and using books. Never call a teacher or go to music school. I play for 2 and half years already, and now I can play guitar not very well but not bad too. And my friend asked me to teach his son a guitar lesson. It's my first time to teach someone guitar and because I learn it autodidactly, I don't know where to begin. Can you share me your experience and give me some suggestion. Thanks.


Dana:

Hi, Sandy,

Your question is not a small question to answer. There is so much to keep in mind and prepare for in order to be a truly effective music teacher, that I would have to answer with much detail if you had regular weekly lessons in mind. (I do plan to write a few webpages just about teaching itself, but I won't be doing that for a little while.)

So I will just give you a few pointers for today:

1. Sit down and write up a PLAN for yourself as to WHAT you will teach and HOW you will teach it.

This means that you need teaching materials.

Look over this website, and other websites that offer free music. But also, buy a guitar book - SUPER EASY!!! - that can form the backbone for your lessons... a method that starts with knowing nothing, and progresses to playing chords and reading melodies -- hopefully the musical staff, but at least tablature. I recommend staying away from books that use mostly popular artists and rock music... your student may be able to play the (simplest) chords, but the melodies will be beyond their ability for a long time.

Find some kind of guitar book that you feel comfortable teaching out of (that you don't have too many disagreements with!). This book should probably start with VERY BASIC chords, such as "little" C and "little" G.

2. Teach BASIC -- not fancy -- strumming the first few weeks.

3. Use the pick, not fingers, at first. I've changed my mind on this one.

4. Teach very easy chords and sing songs that the student already knows, songs which use those easy chords.

5. Do your research and try to teach proper posture and how to hold the guitar, to avoid bad habits which will need to be changed later, such as the Left Hand thumb coming up over the guitar neck.

6. Start the student reading easy melodies right away, such as my Boil'em Cabbage Down. They can use the tablature if you don't read notes.

If you WANT to teach this child -- and maybe yourself, too, how to read notes, then get a beginner's book or books such as the Alfred's Kid's Guitar Course. Perhaps you can't find those books in Singapore, but there are no doubt books like them.

This friend of yours knows that you have only had a brief time as a musician, yet they like what they are hearing from you. Let this be an inspirational learning experience for YOU as well as this friend's child; show them what you know in as sequential and easy a manner as you can, and the time may come when you feel that YOU need to increase your own knowledge in order to keep this student satisfied.

Now, you actually didn't say your friend wanted LESSONS, but just A LESSON... if that is the case, then just share (for this one-time lesson) a few easy chords, such as Em and little C and little G, and strum and sing together some songs you know that use those chords! That will be very fun -- and much the same way that you yourself learned to play guitar, probably.

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