Guitar Teaching Tips

Guitar Teaching Tips

guitar teaching tips

Tips for Guitar Teachers

When setting out to give tips to would be guitar teachers it is important to recognise that “There are many spokes to the centre of the wheel” which is just another way of saying that teaching people to play the guitar is ridden with variables and that no two teachers (or no two guitar students for that matter) are the same?

This section of the website will contain a series of short (what I hope are) insights into the inner workings of the brain of a guitar teacher.

These tips and tricks are not designed to work for every guitar teacher in every situation. They are just things that (sometimes) work for me and might (sometimes) work for you?

Every guitar teacher is different. Every guitar student is on their own journey and therefore every lesson is bound to be at least slightly different.

There is another old proverb which states something along the lines of  “you can never step into the same river twice” and even though at the beginning of a lesson we might make assumptions about the likely behaviours and capabilities of our students we need to be able to adapt in accordance with the actual circumstances rather than just throw the same bunch of “stock” lessons in the same order at all of our learners?

Some guitar students will pick up particular concepts and techniques remarkably quickly but might struggle with technical or theoretical areas that we could initially predict that they would take in their stride?

Whilst you need to have a plan for your guitar lesson it is important to be able to adapt (or even abandon) it should the occasion demand or the opportunity present itself?

You may find that a student needs to go back over some old ground that you thought they were comfortable with or it could be that you discover that they are more competent with regard to theoretical knowledge or technical ability than you expected at the start of the session.

The list of potential variables that exist at the beginning of any guitar lesson means that it is almost inevitable that the experience that you deliver to your guitar student will not be quite the same as the one that you thought that you would be providing at the start of the session? If a guitar teacher expects this and has a range of resources and strategies designed to accomodate this reality then they should be able to take this variety in their stride?

The “Best” Guitar Teaching Tip?

Perhaps the most important tip that I can offer to someone setting out to be a guitar teacher is to say that the single principle underpinning the whole subject of guitar teaching and perhaps the key to teaching guitar for a living is to work out the answer to the question “what is the best thing you can do for this person’s guitar playing within the next hour”?
tips for teaching guitar

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Printable Guitar Necks Chord Grids Fingerboards etc

Printable Guitar Teaching Resources, Blank Necks and Chord Grids

printable guitar necks

The following are examples  of just some of the stuff in the current teachwombat “Deluxe Guitar Teacher’s Package” (details shown on the right hand column of this page).

The list is presented in a random order  and is not intended to be the sequence in which you would present them to your students.

A Pentatonic Minor Scale 1

The pentatonic minor scale is maybe the most useful and versatile scale for guitar teachers?

A handout showing the one octave A pentatonic minor scale formula starting from the A note to be found on the D String at the seventh fret. This handout also illustrates the notes that are commonly bent in rock and blues solos. For more information on how to teach soloing using the pentatonic minor scale see our page looking at backing tracks and the minor pentatonic scale extended to cover the entire guitar neck

Guitar Bar Chord Root Finder

Teach your guitar students to develop an effective “map of the neck” ?

An essential guide to the notes to be found on the (low) E and A strings to help your students in the location of root notes for bar chords and power chords on the guitar. This handout is useful because it helps students to work out where the chords are located for themselves and in so doing encourages them to develop their own mental “map of the neck” rather than having to rely on a different diagram for each bar chord.

 

Major and Minor Bar Chords: E and A Shapes

Use these bar chord shapes along with the root finder to help turn your students from “beginners” to “intermediate guitar players”?

Major Bar Chords E Shape. A handout explaining the fingering for a major bar chord with the root note located on the E string. This handout can be used along with the one shown above entitled “Bar Chord Root Finder” to locate and identify any desired major bar chord.

A handout explaining the fingering for a major bar chord with the root note located on the A string. This handout can also be used in conjunction with the  “Bar Chord Root Finder” to locate and identify any desired major bar chord. Other handouts in the package cover Minor Bar Chord Shapes.

By encouraging your students to use the root finder handout to work out where the root otes of these moveable chord shapes are located you will help them to develop their own mental “map of the neck” rather than to have to rely on a different diagram for each chord they are presented with?

First Guitar Chords

Recognised by guitar teachers around the world as being the “best” chords for a novice to learn?

The best guitar chords for novice players to work with. A handout showing fingerings for G, Em, C, D, A, Am, Dm and E . Used in conjunction with some of the guitar backing tracks that can be downloaded at teachwombat.com this handout can be used to keep a novice in material for the first few  months of useful lessons. This collection of  chords is used by experienced guitar teachers the world over. One of the major advantages of using these chord shapes to teach novice players is that it avoids the “difficult” shapes (such as the F Chord where a single finger is required to press down and hold two strings) until the student is ready for them.

Guitar Chords: First Lesson?

One finger versions of the G and Em guitar chords. Great for kids with smaller hands?

A possible very first lesson on guitar. The chords of G and E Minor played for two bars each along to a backing track. The handout on the left shows the “full” version of the chords whilst the sheet on the right displays a version of the progression that is particularly suitable for children with smaller hands. If you study the the chords on the “smaller hands” sheet you will notice that can both be played using  a single finger (the third). This material can be used to provide the basis of a ideal “first guitar lesson”. All that is required is that you encourage your student to strum the guitar once (as the chord changes) leaving two whole bars to allow them to change to the next chord shape. Instant Results! which always goes down well?

For more more material dealing with teaching children to play the guitar you can visit our page devoted to the topic?

Guitar Chords: A First Lesson Developed?

Developing the two chords covered by the handouts and backing tracks above. This sheet (and the accompanying backing track) adds another pair of chords (C and D) taken from the “First Guitar Chords” handout.  See our Plans for the “First Eight Guitar Lessons” to see how this material might be further developed for your students

Three Guitar Chord Grids and Four Lines Of Tab with Treble Clef

.

One of our wide range of handouts featuring  tab, guitar, necks, chord grids and musical staves. this one features three empty guitar chord grids and three lines of empty  tab with a treble clef musical stave above them. This type of handout can be used by the guitar teacher to explain and illustrate riffs, chords and solos etc

 

Guitar Power Chords

A handout which explains in some detail the nature of power chords. This handout will ideally be used before the one dealing with three note power chords and will serve to encourage students to develop the ability to move fixed shapes around the neck of the guitar.

C Major Scale In Thirds Fingering Exercise

The scale in thirds is a great exercise for developing a basic guitar technique. It involves the student in playing the notes of the C major Scale but rather than just play them in ascending and descending order (C-D-E- F-G etc) they are invited to go “two steps forward and one step back” (C-E-D-F-E-G etc). A great workout for a beginner guitar player which can also be used (once they have gotten used to the fretting hand pattern) to instill correct plectrum technique by using alternating down and up strokes with the pick.

Six Guitar Chord Grids and Four Lines Of Tab

Six empty chord grids with four lines of tab and no standard staff for when notation is not required. A great resource for using when single note riffs etc are based around chord shapes (“House Of The Rising Sun” etc?)

Dominant 7th Guitar Chords

Two guitar chord boxes which show how to turn an E chord into an E7 chord by adding a single note a whole step below the root. Also featured in this handout are three more common dominant 7th chords

C Major Scale In 6ths Technique Excercise

A technique builder based around notes of the C scale moving in intervals of a sixth. This exercise is designed to build independent finger movement into the fretting hand and to encourage a correct approach to the use of plectrum strokes.

Dorian Mode Guitar Sheets 1-3

Sheet 1: Two necks showing the A Dorian Mode through first and second octaves

Sheet 2: Both octaves combined and the mode extended around the neck

Sheet 3: The extended mode with scale formulae.

Print 20 GIANT Guitar Chord Grids NOW?

The teachwombat guitar teacher’s toolkit contains more than 100 separate letter sized giant chord shapes! The World’s Coolest Wallpaper? Stick them on your teaching studio wall? Follow this link to download and print 20 FREE ones now?

The giant guitar chord diagrams were originally designed to be laminated and used during group guitar lessons but they took on a life of their own! Many students wanted copies for themselves so that they could stick them on their bedroom walls and practice guitar whilst sitting on the bed and without having to look at books/handouts etc?

I’m still busy putting the graphics together for this page so there are no more pictures on it as yet but I’m sure you get the idea by now?


12 Guitar Chord Grids

empty guitar chord grids A printable A4 sheet featuring twelve empty guitar chord grids in four rows of three. This sheet is as useful as it is simple and guitar teachers can use it in a whole load of different ways.

It can be used to show all of the guitar chords in a single song?

All of the voicings for a particular chord type (ie all maj 7 cherds etc)?

This sheet can also be used to show how notes are added to simple triads in order to create more complicated guitar chords (an example would be the open chord of E being changed into an E7 chord by adding the D note to be found at the third fret of the B string?)

This is one of the guitar teachers handouts that gets used over and over again. Many guitar teachers spend a little bit of time preparing “neat” versions of favourite and often used handouts and then scan or photocopy them so that they always have a supply of ready made materials guaranteed to take a lot of the “stress” out of guitar lessons

 

16 Bars Treble Clef and Tab

guitartab and treble clef blankNo chord grids this time. Just sixteen bars of blank musical stave with blank guitar tab underneath. Another versatile guitar teaching aid that can be used over and over again in a huge variety of circumstances?

Not all guitar teachers use notated music but for those that do this sheet offers an opportunity to relate notation to tablature.

Song intros and guitar solos can be notated with the tab placed in the relevant space below allowing your students to make the connection between “written” music and guitar fingerings

A Pentatonic Major Scale Two Octaves

pentatonic major scale guitar two octavesA two octave pentatonic major scale of A starting on the (A) Root found at the fifth fret of the E String and ending on the tenth fret of the B String

The Major Pentatonic Scale (just an ordainary major scale with the 4th and 7th notes left out) is one of the basic scales that every lead guitar player should become familiar with and your students will find it easy to understand the fingering and structure of it when they are presented with this handout.

A nice use of this handout is to get your students to play the scale but rather than play the third note of it (C#) at the ninth fret of the E string ask them to try to produce the same note by placing a finger behind the 8th fret of the E string (producing a note of C) and bending it up by half a tone to get to the C#?  Instant Country Music!

A Pentatonic Minor Scale 2

pentatonic minor scales guitar
Two guitar necks the first of which features the one octave scale dealt with in the Am pentatonic scale handout featured at the top of this page. The second neck displays the scale extended right across the fingerboard.

There is an opportunity for guitar teachers to use the handout to show the relationship between the A major Bar Chord to be found with it’s root note at the 5th fret of the E string and the Am pentatonic scale whose root can be located at the same fret. Students can be encouraged to mix the A Bar chord with short lead licks? (short single note phrases can be an effective way of introducing novice guitar players to single note soloing as short spaces where single notes are mixed with chords can seem a little less intimidating than several bars of music where extended single note soloing is required?)

A Pentatonic Minor Scale 3

Two necks again. The first showing the extended scale described in the handout above and the second displaying a new position for the scale (starting from the A note to be found on the g string at the second fret) This handout also provides information on linking the two positions.

Aeolian Mode Sheet 1

Two necks featuring first and second octave fingerings for an A Aeolian Mode

Aeolian Mode Sheet 2

Another handout featuring two guitar necks. The first fretboard diagram combines the fingerings from the first and second octaves from handout No 1 and the second extends the A Aeolian mode around the neck.

Aeolian Mode Sheet No 3

The Aeolian mode extended around the entire guitar neck. On this printable handout the extended scale formulae is explained.

Am Pentatonic Sheet 3

A Handout featuring two necks combining more positions for the Am Pentatonic Scale

Am Pentatonic Printable Sheet 4

More possibilities for the minor pentatonic scale on the guitar

Basic Progressions Sheet 1

A set of short progressions designed to develop the ability to move power chords and bar chords around the neck of the guitar. The chords of G A C D and E are featured in the four exercises that make up this handout

Blank 12 Bar

Twelve bars of blank treble clef and conventional musical stave.

Blank Guitar Neck

A lightly outlined representation of a guitar neck from the nut to the twelfth fret The neck is lightly outlined to allow any writing or chord shapes that you may choose to superimpose stand out

Printable Blank Guitar Neck

Some teachers prefer a more well defined printable blank guitar neck. Here it is.

Blank Neck teachwombat

Another blank neck to print  this time featuring teachwombat.com. as part of the design and the only bit of “branding” in the package. This is just about the only thing in the package with “teachwombat” on it anywhere. Although we of course claim (and enforce!) our copyrights with this stuff there is no reason why your customers (and your competition) should have any idea where you got these fantastic resources from? !

Blank Neck Thick

A very well defined printable blank neck gives another option depending on the circumstances.

Blank Necks – Two Necks

Exactly as described. Two printable guitar necks/fingerboards side by side

Blues Progressions 1 and 2 Key of A

Two twelve bar blues progressions. The first uses only basic major triads whilst the second illustrates how a “bluesier” feel can be achieved by adding dominant7th chords

Blues Scale Of A Guitar Extended

The A Blues Scale extended to cover the neck of the guitar from the nut to the twelfth fret

Blues Scale A sheet 1

The one octave A Blues Scale presented on two necks. The first neck gives the correct fingering for the scale whilst the second provides the scale formulae.

C Major Scale 1 and 2

A pair of blank guitar necks illustrating two positions in which to find the notes of the C Major Scale. The first neck uses open strings (down to the open E string) whilst the second position shows the notes of the C scale one position higher on the neck.

C Major Scale Extended Fingering

Two necks illustrating how the C major scale can be extended beyond a single octave. The first neck has a representation of the standard one octave scale with the “outside” notes highlighted. The second neck includes information on a correct approach to fingering the notes in question.

C Major Scale Open Strings

Two Necks, Notation and Tablature for a one octave C Major Scale

Dominant 7th Guitar Chords

Two guitar chord boxes which show how to turn an E chord into an E7 chord by adding a single note a whole step below the root. Also featured in this handout are three more common dominant 7th chords

GMaj7 Cmaj7 Gmaj7 D7 Chord Progression

A progression featuring some of the chords with complicated names that novices are sometimes surprised to find that they can learn easily. Chord boxes are also provided on this handout.

Harmonic Minor Scale

Two necks showing first and second octaves for this scale.

Locrian Mode Sheet 1

Two guitar  necks again showing the scale formulae and fingering for two separate octaves of the locrian mode

Locrian Mode Sheet 2

Combined two octave shape with suggested fingering on the first neck with the second showing the mode extended around the neck of the guitar

Locrian Mode Sheet 3

The scale formulae through two octaves with a second neck detailing that formulae from the nut to the 12th fret.

Lydian Mode Sheet 1

Two necks again showing the scale formulae and fingering for two separate octaves of the lydian mode

Lydian Mode Sheet 2

Combined two octave shape with suggested fingering on the first neck with the second showing the Lydian mode extended around the neck of the guitar

Lydian Mode Sheet 3

The scale formulae through two octaves with a second neck detailing that formulae from the nut to the 12th fret.

Major 7 Chord Progression

The chords of Gmaj7, Cmaj7 and Dmaj7 presented as a progression along with the appropriate chord grids   Major 7th Chords A handout explaining how maj7 chords are constructed by means of adding a note to a basic triad. The example used shows how to create an Amaj7 chord. Following on from this other basic maj7 chords are illustrated.   Major Bar Chords A Shape. A handout explaining the fingering for a major bar chord with the root note located on the A string. This handout can be used along with the one entitled Bar Chord Root Finder to locate and identify any desired major bar chord.   Major Bar Chords E Shape. A handout explaining the fingering for a major bar chord with the root note located on the E string. This handout can also be used in conjunction with the one entitled Bar Chord Root Finder to locate and identify any desired major bar chord.

Melodic Minor Scale sheet 1

Two necks outlining suggested fingerings for two separate octaves of the melodic minor scale.

Melodic Minor Scale sheet 2

Two necks again. The first features the two octaves combined and the second shows the melodic minor scale scale extended around the neck

Melodic Minor Scale Sheet 3

Another two necks this time showing the scale formulae for the melodic minor as well as that formulae as it could be extended from the nut to the 12th fret.

Minor 7 Bar Chords Root on E String

A handout explaining the fingering for the minor7 bar chord with a root note located on the E string. This handout is another that can be used in conjunction with the one entitled Bar Chord Root Finder to locate and identify any desired M7 bar chord.

Minor 7 Bar Chords Root on A String

A handout explaining the fingering for minor7 bar chords with a root note located on the A string. This one again can be used in conjunction with the Bar Chord Root Finder to locate and identify any desired M7 bar chord.

Minor Bar Chords A Minor Shape

A handout illustrating the minor bar chord with it’s root to be found on the A string. Use with the root finder to explain how this shape is another that can be moved around the fingerboard to create any minor chord as required.

Minor Bar Chords Em Shape

A handout dealing with the minor bar chord with it’s root on the E string. Use with the root finder to explain how this shape is another that can be moved around the fingerboard to create any minor chord as required.

Mixolydian Mode Sheet 1

Two necks again showing the scale formulae and fingering for two separate octaves of the Mixolydiann mode

Mixolydian Mode Sheet 2

Combined two octave shape with suggested fingering on the first neck with the second showing the mode extended around the neck of the guitar   Mixolydian Mode Sheet 3 The scale formulae through two octaves with a second neck detailing that formulae from the nut to the 12th fret.

More Blues Progressions

Two more blues progressions in the key of A. These two progressions show common variations on the standard twelve bar progression and use more complicated dominant 7th chords.   Moveable Major 7th shape, Root on D String Moveable shape for a four string version of the Major7 chord/

Moveable Major Scales 1

Single octave of the C Major Scale using only fretted notes rather than open strings.

Moveable Major Scales C2

Two octave C Major Scale using all six strings.

Natural Minor Scale

A Fingering for the Natural Minor Scale

Natural Minor Scale Sheet 1

Two necks again showing the scale formulae and fingering for two separate octaves of the Natural Minor

Natural Minor Scale Sheet 2

Combined two octave shape with suggested fingering on the first neck with the second showing the scale extended around the neck of the guitar

Natural Minor Scale Sheet 3

The scale formulae through two octaves with a second neck detailing that formulae from the nut to the 12th fret.

Guitar Phrygian Mode Sheet 1

Two necks again showing the scale formulae and fingering for two separate octaves of the Phrygian mode

Phrygian Mode Sheet 2

Combined two octave shape with suggested fingering on the first neck with the second showing the mode extended around the neck of the guitar

Phrygian Mode Sheet 3

The scale formulae through two octaves with a second neck detailing that formulae from the nut to the 12th fret

Power Chords Three Notes

A handout explaining the construction and fingering of three note power chords. Use in conjunction with the Bar Chord Root Finder to help students develop the ability to create any desired three note power chord. These chords can be used to prepare students for full bar chords.

Power Chords Two Notes

A handout which explains in some detail the nature of power chords. This handout will ideally be used before the one dealing with three note power chords and will serve to encourage students to develop the ability to move fixed shapes around the neck of the guitar.

The Can Can Fingering Exercise

A sheet showing the musical notation, fingering and Tab for The Can Can. This exercise is made up entirely of notes to be found within a one octave C Major Scale (using open strings so it’s especially suitable for novice players) This handout can be used to show students at an early stage that scales are “where music comes from”

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Printable Blank Guitar Necks for Guitar Teachers

Printable Blank Guitar Necks for Guitar Teachers

 

blank guitar neck

just some of the guitar teacher's printable resources

Sheets featuring a printable Blank Guitar Neck (or necks) are an invaluable guitar teaching aid and can help to make our lives as instrumental teachers easier and much less stessful? Before I put together these materials I used to waste loads of time actually drawing guitar necks onto bits of paper during the course of the lesson itself! I freely admit that this was in no way an effective use of either my time or (more to the point) my student’s money?

The teachwombat materials (follow this link to download and print some free samples now?) take the whole concept to another level. We have produced a range of printable sheets for guitar teachers that give a huge range of options to anyone setting out to make a living by providing guitar lessons. The printable resources feature not just blank guitar necks but also a huge variety of combinations of graphics designed to help guitar teachers to get their message over to their students. There are printable handouts featuring single guitar fretboards as well as some which feature two guitar necks side by side.

Printable Blank Guitar Chord Grids

In addition to the blank guitar neck already mentioned other sheets feature blank guitar chord grids combined with guitar tablature and musical staves allowing teachers to enhance the effectiveness of their lessons by providing their students with chord progressions and a graphic representation of important riffs, solos and single note figures.

 

printable guitar tab and blank chord sheets

Guitar teachers the world over use these materials to “mix and match” as required to help them to get their message over effectively to students. Many guitar teachers take a little time to put together neat “master copies” of material that they use regualrly and then scan or photocopy the sheets as required. that way they build up a library of teaching material that they can use for years to come.

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How To Teach Guitar: Technique, Theory and Repertoire

Guitar Teaching: Three important Areas

There are three areas that we must pay attention to when helping our novice guitar players to become well rounded musicians but it is a big mistake to treat all three areas as being equally important at all stages of a guitar student’s career. It is true to say that one of the skills developed by an experienced guitar teacher is to know when to “push” one or more of these three topics whilst maybe holding back on another until your guitar student is at a more appropriate stage?

 

These areas are……………………

1: Theory

2: Technique

3: The Development of Repertoire

In order to produce a “well rounded” guitar player it is neccesary to develop your student in accordance with a plan that takes these three areas into account but it cannot be stressed enough that in the very early stages of learning to play the guitar music theory can (and should) be “put very firmly onto the back burner”


Why not to dwell on guitar music theory?

Without wanting to get too far into the realms of educational theory the development of a  “joined up” framework for understanding how music theory works is a “cognitive” skill requiring the brain to indulge in theorising and analysis and it is vital that when the time is right that we help our students to understand what they are playing. Having said that they do not need to attempt to understand the theory behind the things that they can not yet play?


Developing GuitarTechnique

The development of technique on the guitar is what has been defined (by those pesky eduational theorists again!) as being a “phsychomotor skill”.  A phsychomotor skill is purely physical and does not need to have any theoretical underpinning before it becomes useful to the individual who develops it.

If you see a child playing with a ball there is no requirement that they have a detailed understanding of the physics governing gravity and momentum before they can have fun and develop capabilities that will serve them well in later life and the same holds true for someone (of whatever age) who wishes to play the guitar but can not (yet). They just need to be able to press their fingers down on some wires whilst striking those same wires with a plectrum.

What better way to get them to practice that phsychomotor skill than by telling them how they can get to play music that they like and recognise (surely a large part of the reason why they want to play the guitar in the first place)?


Developing Guitar Repertoire

For the vast majority of our guitar students working on  repertoire is the fun part! Developing the ability to play music that they like and recognise will be the activity that improves their technique. In the early stages of playing (and here I mean at least the first year for an “ordainary” student of the guitar) novice musicians are more than happy to learn loads of new songs (or fragments of songs/riffs etc) that they recognise and that they (hopefully?) like.
This is not a “cop out” from the teachers point of view! Music Theory can (and should) be introduced where appropriate or useful but for the novice study of music theory should wait until they can actually make some music on the guitar.


Guitar Technique and Repertoire Combined

Our job as guitar teachers is to identify the best chords for a beginner guitar player to learn and to present them with a bunch of songs (or fragments of songs) that they can use in order to develop that ability.

It is generally recognised by Guitar Teachers the world over that there are a bunch of open chords that are not too difficult to play which also offer guitar students the potential to learn,practice and perform thousands (and possibly millions?) of songs. These chords (C A Am G E Em D and Dm) are useful because students do not have to stretch too far or use fingers (the pinkie?) over which they have not yet developed sufficient control. Another feature of the chords is that novice guitar players are not required to hold down more tha one string with a single finger ( such as is the case with the openthe F Chord?) which is something that they can find dispiriting if confronted with too early in tyheir playing career.

The early stages (the first few months for a “typical” beginner) of guitar playing should be about our students developing phsychomotor skills to sound the strings and to form the basic chord shapes that best suit a beginner on the guitar. The best way to do this is to teach them the guitar chords that are best for a beginner to learn alongside a whole load of songs that feature only those chords?

 

 

 

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Teaching Guitar To Groups:Problems and Strategies

Teaching Guitar To Groups:

teach group guitar lessons

 

 

 


Teaching Guitar to Groups

 

Teaching Guitar to groups of students is a challenging activity that presents its own problems and opportunities. Experienced guitar teachers come to realise that giving group lessons (both for the teacher and the learner) is  substantially different to the more traditional “one on one” instrumental lesson.

This is not to say that group guitar lessons cannot be successful and rewarding but it is a good idea to consider some of the issues surrounding group guitar teaching before setting out to do so.

One of the basic realities is that the student group will almost inevitably contain a wide variety of guitar players in terms of experience, ability and aspiration. You will also face this diversity with your students when teaching one on one but at the risk of stating the obvious you won’t have to meet them (and therefore cater for them ?) all at the same time.

Differences in terms of age, musical taste, prior experience, technical ability and (lets face it?) potential will mean that each group will present you with a unique set of guitar teaching challenges.

A guitar teacher looking for a stress free and worthwhile teaching experience would do well to have a plan in place that would allow students of mixed ability levels to take something from a lesson.

The secret to not becoming barking mad (and stoney broke?) is in preparation.

While individual guitar lessons allow for more student-teacher interraction designed to allow us to seek out the “weak spots” in a student’s musicianship and to address that during the course of the session we simply do not have that luxury when working with groups of students. By the time we have gone around each of the students in our group conducting an in depth assessment of progress (or not?) since the last session then we will most probably have run out of time to teach and because we have been working with individuals then most of our group will have been doing nothing for most of the time?

It is useful when guitar teaching to have a plan that allows a group of students to work on the same basic materials with abilities on different levels.

An idea that can be effective is to play a (looped?) backing track consisting of four chords suitable for a beginner guitarist (say A D G and a return to A?).

The novices in the group could be encouraged to strum each chord as it changes.

A slightly more advanced novice could be helped to strum with a four quaver “down up down up” movement at the start of each bar

A more experienced/capable guitarist yet could be encouraged to use power chords (either a long power chord sounded at the start of each bar or with a straight quaver feel and some palm muting)

Students at the stage where they are ready to work on full bar chords could be required to move around the neck using the relevant chord shapes with a range of strumming patterns and as the “icing on the cake” solos or pre determined single note phrases based around the A pentatonic minor scale” could be introduced to give the whole thing an authentic “rock” flavour.

When this works well (and it does) every guitar player in the group is challenged at the level appropriate to their current ability with the added bonus that no-one is left behind.

There is also an opportunity for the less experienced and capable members of the group to look at the activities and performance of the (slightly) more advanced group members and to be inspired and encouraged by the idea that with a little practice they too can expect to move on to more advanced material?

There will be more stuff about teaching guitar to groups as this material develops.

You can download a free backing track and handouts for this lesson by visiting this link to a page outlining the first eight lessons for a beginner guitarist Use it during the course of your guitar lessons (either with groups of individual students) with our blessing.

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Guitar Teacher’s “Words of Wisdom”

Some stuff to download, print and stick up on your teaching studio wall?


The CAGED guitar system for beginners

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Teaching Bar Chords on Guitar: A Way Into Music Theory?

Teaching Bar Chords on Guitar

The study of bar chords can provide a guitar teacher with an ideal opportunity to build technique and also introduce music theory to their students?

teaching bar chords to guitar studentsThere are really two different objectives with regard to bar chords as far as our students are concerned. The first is …..

To enable our students to  physically play the four basic major and minor guitar bar chords shapes?,

and the second objective is……….

To ensure that they become capable of working out where bar chords are located on the neck of the guitar?

Root notes of the four common guitar bar chord shapes are located on the (low) E and A strings. If our students can identify all of the notes on these two strings then it is simply a case of “hanging” the appropriate major or minor shape onto the note in question?

If you look at the picture at the top of this article you will see that one of the handouts that we have produced is a “Bar Chord Root Finder” which graphically displays the name and location of the notes on the bottom two strings of the guitar.

The use of bar chords is also a good way “into” music theory as perhaps for the first time some of the “rules” of theory can become relevant to a guitar player because they can help him (or her) to find the root notes of chord shapes that they want to play.

Guitar bar chord root notes on the E and A stringsUp until this point (the point at which when a student is technically ready to move on from playing the open chords of the CAGED System) I tend to steer clear of music theory in preference to helping my students to develop the ability to change between simple chords (in time) and developing single note skills by practicing recognisable tunes and riffs (song intros etc) using guitar tablature rather than notated music. I work on the theory that its a bit strange to teach someone something that they can’t do (play single note riffs and melodies etc.) using a language (notated music) that they do not (yet) speak.

To properly understand how to work out where bar chords can be built on the neck of the guitar people need to know about the (seemingly strange?) way that musical notes are named and set out. This provides an ideal opportunity to introduce music theory?

I tend to use the root finder to point out the fact that there is an interval of a whole step (2 frets) between each (natural) letter name other than between B and C and also between E and F which feature a half step (1 fret) interval.

Students can also be made aware of the fact that the notes which are found behind frets between the natural notes can be either sharpenned or flattened versions of those natural notes depending upon the circumstances. As a guitar teacher you do not need to go into those circumstances at this stage? It is enough that the learner becomes aware of the general principle. later this awareness can be built upon when studying scale and chord construction.

This provides the student with a “bite sized” chunk of music theory and prepares then for the study of guitar scales and chords that may be to come.

I normally also spend a little time using the root finder as part of a short “question and answer” session with questions like “Which note is a whole step above G? on the E string” and “What note can be found a half step below C on the A string?”

Playing First Bar Chords on Guitar

Using a backing track to help students to play bar chords in time

bar chords for guitar teachersIn order to have them work with bar chords effectively we need to help our guitar students to develop a functioning mental “map of the neck” Becoming able to identify the notes on the E and A strings (at first with reference to the “bar chord root finder” but after a while using only their own increased understanding) will significantly increase their grasp of how both the guitar and the music theory  af the thing works.

 

A great way to start students off  along this path is by using two bar chords (A and G)  along with our relevant backing track which features a bass player and drummer playing a repeated chord progression consisting of two bars of each chord as in the video below which shows how a single backing track might be used to help teach guitar at various stages of a learners career?


Ask the students to play a single bar chord as each chord changes (giving them plenty of time to form the next shape) and please consider sharing this post using the social networking/email buttons below? Cheers!

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Do you need Grades or Qualifications to Teach Guitar?

Do you need guitar grades or qualifications to teach guitar?

 

The short answer is No (although there are some exceptions that I’ll come to)
You need two things in order to teach guitar effectively

1: Knowledge capability and experience relevant to the people that you set out to teach

2: The ability to communicate effectively with your customers

Guitar Knowledge and Capability:
If you are a reasonable standard intermediate guitarist there is no reason why you cannot be a very effective guitar teacher with or without either qualifications or recognised grades just so long as you set out to teach guitar to the right customers?

We have a more detailed article themed around the subject of how “good”  a guitar player you need to be in order to teach the instrument

This site also features detailed information and lesson plans for a series of guitar lessons aimed at an absolute novice that you may find interesting?

There are basically two types of novice guitar student

1: Grown ups who decide that since they always wanted to play the guitar it’s “now of never”

2: Young kids (I take them from the age of eight) who wish to learn to play because it seems like a fun thing to do?
For a more detailed look at some of the issues involved in teaching children guitar we have a page dedicated to the subject that you may like to take a look at?

One of the nice things about both groups is that in the early stages you cover the same ground (albeit in slightly different ways?)

Total beginners need to learn how to change between chords and how to strum those chords in time? It’s as simple as that.

An idea for a “good” intermediate standard player who wishes to explore the possibility of developing a career as a guitar teacher is to get teaching experience (and income!) from teaching beginners whilst at the same time working towards the recognised qualifications and grades that will allow them to progress “up the ladder”. The other (by no means small!) advantage is that by doing so you will also become a better player.

If you wish to teach guitar in high school, and college situations then realistically you will probably need to have recognised grades and qualifications so that the people who dish the jobs out (who are most probably not guitar players?) can justify (to their bosses) your appointment.

guitar lesson plans free pdf

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Bar Chords On Guitar : A Guide for Guitar Teachers


Bar Chords offer guitar teachers an easy introduction to guitar music theory?

The ability to play (and understand how to locate?) Bar Chords can in some ways be regarded as the point where a player passes from the beginner to the intermediate stage of guitar playing? When looking at developing familiarity with Bar Chords  teaching and learning should not just be about “Where do I put my fingers?” but should become increasingly concerned with “How does the neck of the guitar work?”

By making our students aware of the names and locations of root notes on the (low) E and A strings we can help reinforce  the  concept of whole and half step intervals in a way that makes sense to them in a practical (rather than purely theoretical) way. Once our student can understand these two intervals they have the tools to study the theory that underpins scale and chord construction?

“The Bar Chord Root Finder” that comes as a part of the teachwombat materials is simply a representation of the guitar neck with the names of the notes to be found at each fret of the E and A strings on it. By “hanging” the relevant Major (or minor) bar chord shape from the root notes as required our guitar students can develop an understanding of the “map of the neck”

Bar Chords or Power Chords?

If bar chords seem like a step too far why not try “power chords”?

They will begin to realise that some notes are separated from their alphabetic neighbours by an interval of a whole step (for example C and D?) whilst others (B and C or F and E?) have only a single fret (a half step) between them.  From a technical point of view it can be a good idea to introduce full bar chords after students have spent some time mastering power chords as many of the same technical elements are involved but at a more basic and “novice friendly” level. Of course the “Bar Chord Root Finder” works in exactly the same way for (the technically less demanding) power chord shapes and will serve just as well as a way of helping to develop an understanding of how the neck of the guitar works.

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Guitar Tablature Is Evil!

Guitar Tablature is Evil!
It does not tell you what note you are playing. It does not give you any clue as to how your melodic input is affecting the harmony of the music. It does not tell you the scale or mode that you are using over the chord sequence. It does not tell you when to play so you need to be familiar with the song, riff or solo that you are trying to reproduce (in which case what’s wrong with using your ears to work it out?).

Pretty much all tab does tell you is where someone in a recording studio somewhere once pressed their fingers onto a guitar neck.
Guitar tablature tricks people into believing that they are much better guitar players than they actually are.

When the Pope (maybe a couple of popes ago?) used to land in a country where he didn’t live he would endear himself to the faithful by saying a couple of phrases in the language of that country. At no point did he claim to understand the language and everyone knew that it was nothing more than a gesture. He had learned the phrases “parrot fashion” purely for effect.
Thats ok for him (after all he may have had friends in high places?) but it’s no way to be as a guitarist?
Knowing where to put your fingers without knowing why you put them there is maybe not the best way to go about things? Everone and their pet monkey can play the intro to Sweet Child O Mine but how many of them can explain how it works harmonically and melodically?
Alright I admit it. I’m overstating the case a little bit. In fact this website is trying to sell you a set of resources in which blank guitar tablature sheets play an important part but I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that guitar tab should be used to assist and reinforce knowledge and understanding rather than to sidestep or replace it?
Guitar tablature is like Guns? Perfectly safe and sensible if used by the right people in the right way but the potential for disaster if used wrongly does not bear thinking about?

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