One of the best ways that I have found to give thanks for something, especially a skill or talent, is to teach it to someone else. While there are many benefits in doing this, some very specific ones come to mind and they are:
- It makes you better at whatever your doing,
- It gives someone else the opportunity to learn what you know,
- and its a great way to show that you aren’t selfish and want to help others.
- So with this idea in mind, let me give you some in depth reasons why teaching other people guitar makes you better player.
When I first started teaching guitar I was still in college and my first student was a kid who needed to learn some basic classical music so that he could audition for the school of music at SUNY Fredonia. I was a little nervous about teaching him at first because I didn’t know if I would be good enough to teach him properly.
After a few weeks of lessons, I quickly found that there were many aspects of his playing that I would be able to help him get better at. The most important thing that I found was that teaching someone else to play makes you dissect what your actually doing to a very detailed level. This in turn makes you understand so much more about your own playing and technique.
When you need to describe a certain chord shape, scale, or technique, you will find yourself taking a whole new look at what your doing. This is necessary to do so that you can find a way to tell another person how to do it. After just a month or two of working with my first student, I found myself playing with more precision and more confidence because I truly understood more about my own playing.
Now fast forward about seven years of teaching guitar as my main occupation and you can only imagine the confidence and insight that comes with that much focus on showing other people what you already know.
Now here’s the question you might be asking yourself, “How do I know if I’m good enough to teach someone else”? First of all, in my opinion, the phrase “good enough” is not that important, especially when you just want to help out a friend or family member.
There are so many different aspects to guitar playing and I’m sure that you might know a particular chord shape or scale that someone else doesn’t know. Start small and just give it a shot. Find a friend or family member and offer to show them something easy and basic. I guarantee that they will be excited to learn it, even if it’s just a simple chord or melody.
Seeing how other people react to learning what your trying to show them will in turn teach you many things about what your doing and how you can do it better. The whole idea here is to have fun and spread some knowledge around.
Don’t worry about being paid or having the right background, just find a willing person and tell them that you want to help them learn something new and fun. Who knows, you may just find yourself enjoying it a lot! I know that I did. So much that I made a career out of it.
For those of you who have been playing for awhile and want to pursue teaching on a professional level, I wanted to leave you with a small section of some tips to keep in mind to make sure you keep your students interest.
These were written by Bob Prong, my first and main guitar teacher. Check out his website when your done, he has lots of great free lessons and tips on how to be a better guitar player. Hopefully we will see more of Bob’s methods and input in the month’s to come!
Tips for teaching teenagers:
85-90% of your students are going to be teenagers so this stuff is really important!
- All of the tips for handling young learners are null and void when it comes to teenagers. Teenagers hate having their parents sit in on their lessons. A very insistent parent may sit in on one or two.
- The tip of keeping things practical when it comes to music theory and music reading is critical. Many teens want to learn what they want to learn and that’s all. If you deviate from their interests they will lose interest.
- Teens don’t always practice consistently. They could have a few great weeks then a slump then maybe a few more good weeks. They have busy lives, usually several extracurricular activities and are still figuring out what they like and dislike. This is true for guitar lessons as well. Keep it in mind and don’t get frustrated if they don’t always perform to expectations. If you are cool with them they will be cool with guitar lessons and you will keep them as students for a long time.
- Have them make you a mix CD of 20 of their favorite tunes. Chances are they will bring in some stuff you’ve never heard so be ready to be figuring out songs and charting them out in a hurry.
- Encourage them to form bands with their friends. This will provide a musical outlet for what they are learning and motivation to practice more.