Teaching Guitar To Groups:
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 student 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.