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How To Teach Your Guitar Students To Be Highly Creative


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Before you can become the best local guitar teacher, get tons of new students and make your current students into great musicians you must know how to teach more than just new techniques, licks or theories – you have to make your students into truly creative musicians. Once you can do this, you’ll be making good money teaching guitar in no time.

Fortunately, teaching your students to be creative is not as difficult as you might expect. Plus, nearly all of your competitors have no idea how to teach creativity (if they even ever thought to do it). As soon as you learn how to teach guitar effectively (which involves showing your students how to be creative), you will have a major competitive advantage over all other guitar teachers in your city.

These are the five fundamental things you need to do in order to effectively teach creativity to your students:

Help Your Guitar Students Remove Their Self-Limiting Beliefs

Before begin “instructing" your guitar students on ANYTHING related to becoming more musically creative, understand that the overwhelming majority of your students face two basic problems:

1. Many of your students automatically assume that you can’t “learn” creativity. This is entirely mistaken. (I've proven this to be false while teaching my own guitar students AND other guitar instructors who I mentor have also proven this false).

2. They lack confidence with their capacity to be creative and think they lack natural talent in this area. Truth is, everyone has the potential to be creative – no matter what “natural” talent they possess or don’t possess.

Reality is, your students will frequently struggle with being musically creative by believing in these myths. It’s your job as a teacher to eliminate these destructive, self-defeating beliefs from your students’ mindset and replace them with beliefs that will lead them toward achieving their musical goals and gaining confidence in their abilities. If you don’t do this, your students’ will be unable to become creative due to an innate lack of trust in their own potential (causing them to always sabotage themselves whenever they seem to be making progress).

There are two principal methods to use in order to change your students’ mindset about this subject . The primary way is to make clear to your students that musical creativity is NOT a strange, mystical power that only a few musicians are born with, while most aren’t. In reality, “musical creativity” is not even one “skill”. It is simply a consequence of having acquired a number of musical skills and combined them together to make creativity achievable (read more about this below). Talking about this will already help your students understand why the thinking above is completely untrue and will make them enthusiastic about their TRUE potential.

The 2nd way involves not merely “telling”, but truly SHOWING your students how easily they'll become more creative musicians. This process requires that you:

Use A “Teach” Less - “Train” More Approach

The biggest mistake that countless guitar instructors make (particularly, those who did not learn how to teach guitar effectively) is “teaching too many things one after the other”. This develops out of a false assumption that you must always teach new things in order to be a good guitar teacher. This assumption will lead you to overwhelm your students with new guitar practice exercises every time they see you. If you do this, the following will happen:

1. Your students become bogged down (and much more prone to quitting guitar lessons) on account of becoming overwhelmed with too much musical information. You’ve probably heard this before: “You’ve given me so much information, I think I need to take a break for a while to catch up. ” Yeah. now you know why this happens.

2. Your students don’t really understand how to use most of the things you show them (much less learn how to be creative with them). Although in the moment it feels good to teach new things during each lesson, however, this will leave your students totally powerless to actually use what they learn in any kind of creative manner. Whenever your students feel like they are total beginners in one area of their playing even though they haven’t been true beginners in a long time, you lose status as a good guitar teacher in their eyes, and they lose motivation to get better.

3. As their guitar teacher, you end up working way too many extra hours preparing new lesson ideas for your students.

In the end, everyone loses when you use this approach, and guess what…close to 100% of ALL guitar teachers use this approach as their primary method for teaching students (this is why so many guitar students quit lessons after only a month or two and why most guitar teachers have no truly great students).

The answer to this problem is so easy that it might astonish you. but it is also certain to help make your guitar students better and much more creative players. You have to cut back time teaching your students “new information” and spend much more time training them to apply and make use of that information. Never think that your students will learn how to apply the things you show them in lessons by themselves at home - almost all of them won't. Instead, these students will join the scores of countless guitar players who “understand lots of things” but cannot creatively USE them. It’s a part of your job as a good guitar teacher to not “stop” after teaching a brand new concept to your students. After showing them something new, you need to walk them through the entire process of using it in lots of different musical contexts. Don't hesitate to work on this for “as long as it takes”, even when this means investing a whole hour long lesson into training your students to use an idea in a large number of contexts.

At this time you might be thinking: “Tom, I do not feel right taking my student’s money for any guitar lesson where I'm not actively showing them something new…I feel like I am cheating my students out of a lesson they're having to pay for. ” My response is: your students aren't handing you their money to take “guitar lessons” and “learn information”. They're having to pay you for RESULTS. Your most important task as their teacher is to get them the end results they desire by helping them reach their guitar playing goals. Therefore the only time you're “cheating” your students is when you're not providing them with training they require to get exactly the result they want from their playing.

“Training” is one of the most necessary parts of effective guitar teaching and is NOT limited to only showing them how to be musically creative. To test your current level of understanding when it comes to teaching guitar, take this guitar teacher skill level test.

Begin Small…And Display Proof

When you first work with your students on various aspects of creative guitar playing. get ready to start small. Know that your students will still be very unsure about their ability to be creative. For this reason, you have to:

1. Give them easy assignments that will help them feel confident regarding their ability to implement ideas creatively.

2. Take care that they feel good about the process you're taking them through . When they notice the growth and musical freedom you are helping them obtain, they'll feel motivated to keep learning.

This method is especially critical if you've got students who believe that guitar lessons need to be focused on discovering “new” bits of information. These kinds of students may (at first) be hesitant to use their lesson time for practicing skill integration. Therefore you MUST present this shift in your approach very slowly and back this up with helping your students observe their major transformation using their own eyes.

For instance, among the most basic (and most effective) things you can do while teaching guitar soloing creativity, is make your students create several variations of a short guitar motif. Once you've taught your students how to identify and use many subtle guitar phrasing approaches (for example different types of vibrato, bends, pre-bends, legato, string rakes, double stops, etc. ) have them make twenty variations from a three or five note guitar lick. As simple as this might sound, it's highly enjoyable and forces students to think beyond “which” notes to play and concentrating on “HOW to use these notes in a creative manner”.

Bridge The Gap Between Implementation And The Achievement Of Mastery

Your students will benefit greatly from learning how to apply their skills…BUT this alone is not enough to achieve a high level of creativity. Simple: your students are only able to really be creative using a certain skill once they can both use that skill on it's own, AND know how to use it together with all of their other skills. All highly advanced guitarists already understand and do this, but only the greatest teachers know the critical importance of helping their students integrate their skills together…and even less really do this.

One simple way to get your students to integrate their skills is to have them write a very basic song after learning fundamental chords, barre chords, etc. Rather than “teaching” these things to them and instantly moving to more advanced seventh chords or music theory ideas, STAY on this topic for several lessons and get your students to practice being creative by integrating what they know together in order to make music that (under your direction). This will make it easier for them to remember the ideas, and get them started with being creative whenever you show them something new.

When you begin showing your guitar students how to combine their skills together, you'll be amazed at just how quickly your students will begin to make improvement and turn more creative guitarists. Moreover, you personally will cherish the entire process of teaching your guitar students a great deal more: both because it's enjoyable to see your students grow rapidly and because you won’t be so exhausted from working numerous unpaid hours arranging fresh lesson materials each and every week.

Stop Using Outdated And Ineffective Guitar Teaching Methods

In my previous guitar instruction articles I’ve explained why teaching guitar using ONLY a 1 on 1 private format will slow down both your students’ growth and your ability to make good money teaching guitar. (See why this is true by checking out this free video about guitar teaching ). Additionally, 1 on 1 guitar instruction is very limiting when it comes to teaching creativity. Why? Because no matter how good you are as an instructor, your guitar students will only be able to learn from you. The truth is, your students will become more creative much faster and easier by learning with others. Simply being around others not only makes learning more fun, but it also gives your students the ability to learn from one another and feel motivated by each other’s progress.

Does this go against most conventional guitar teaching wisdom? For sure. But as you know now, most traditional guitar teaching ideas are highly ineffective. When you learn how to teach guitar effectively, and integrate great teaching skills with solid guitar lesson formats, your students are going to quickly grow into great players. and YOU will become the leading guitar teacher in your local area.

To get training so you can grow a hugely successful guitar teaching business, check out this page about effective guitar teacher mentoring .

About The Author:

Tom Hess is an electric guitar teacher online, recording artist and the guitar player. He trains guitar teachers from around the world on how to build their guitar teaching businesses in his guitar teacher program. Visit his website to receive many free guitar teacher resources, and to read more articles about teaching guitar.


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