View Full Version : IMORTANT: need advice for giving guitar lessons..

04-25-2005, 09:40 AM
Hi y´all!

I desperatly need an advice for giving guitar lessons: I got the chance to work as a private teacher at a music school - which means i can work at their school, but i´ll have to pick up students for my lessons by myself. They offered me to go to 2-3 of the schools around town, give one lesson to a schoolclass of, says, 30 people and if that 1-hour guitar showcase apppeals to the kids I might have a few students - if not, well, then I won´t get to give any lessons there anyway.

Thats the situation.
My problem is, that I havent really got much of an idea, what to do in front of 30 kids. I made up a pretty good idea, but I´m not sure if i can pull that off in a good way. Here´s what I might do:

First of all I´d introduce the guitar and its parts, asking the children, what they know about playing and famous guitarists,etc...:Then I`ll

1)pick a popular song (I´m already struggling which one i should chose, should be one everyone´s familiar with, which is easy to play, yet impressive. I´m thinking for days now, nothing comes to my mind..:-(.....)
2.) play it + sing it
3. play an improvisation over a backing track of the same song
4.) take a rythm part of a song:
-play it in metal style
- bossa nova
- Fingerpicking
- Funk

That probably reads impressive and seems to be quite a good plan; but somehow I´m totally nervous about it and just dont seem to able to even start with it . My first lesson will be in about 2 weeks, so i still got a bit of time to come up with stuff; but damn am I nervous.........

Any help´s very appreciated;


04-25-2005, 10:21 AM
Giving guitar lessons is very much like making love to a beautiful woman:

First you got to make sure they want it, then you warm them up slowly before moving on to your speed work. Make sure you put in the appropriate effort using relevant techniques so that you come together at the end.

Then stand back, light yer pipe and admire your handywork.;)

No seriously...

I think for the wooing of new students you just want to impress the hell out of them. I remember a drum teacher came to our school once and he brought the full range of kit and made some crazy sounds, with humour. then he got on his kit and blew us all away with his technique. We all wanted lessons after that!

Make sure you reel them in with impressive and interesting stuff! What are the kids listening to? Play something that you know they want to play, then they will want you to teach them it. Run through your equipment as well, electric, acoustic, effects, amps make loads of different sounds so you appeal to the wider audience. Play some jazz, play some blues, play some rock.

But your plan sounds good to me...like you say though choosing the right track to play is going to be the clincher.

04-25-2005, 10:28 AM
Hey there Alex

Wooh, you got some work ahead of you. First of all, what age are the kids at ? Because that is an important factor. I have taught kids from 8- adult age. You should adjust your style of teaching and your material according to what the age-range is.

I teach at a music school myself, and mainly, I do single lessons, or 2 students at a time at the most. However, we did a "promotional showcase" in several school classes in order to get some of the kids interested in it.
What we did is we ( a keyboard teacher, a drum teacher and myself ) walked into all the class-rooms of a middle school or high school, introduced ourselves, and then played some for them.
Now, what I said about the age-range... you wanna play stuff that appeals to the kids, something they can relate to. It doesn´t make that much sense to improv over a high speed metal song using 32nd note-sweeps in front of a lot of 10 year olds.
Sure, some might be attracted, but in general I think they wouldn´t really understand what is going on. For the younger kids, we simply played some rather popular, simple songs they knew for sure from watchign TV or listening to the radio.
We also did a fun blues-version of a song from a popular kids TV show.
They actually were able to relate to it. We then answered questions, and it was interesting to see what kind of questions they came up with. We treid to make it both interesting and entertaining ( no, we didn´t talk like Elmo or something ). Remember that the younger kids are used to "regular school lessons", homework and such, and even though learning the guitar should be fun for them, they kinda expect the same from guitar lessons. Most of the younger kids will be confused if you i.e. go "I don´t give you homework, it´s all for yourself, try to be motivated".

Now, for the older kids, we didn´t play a kids song, we instead played a guitar heavy version of a rap tune, a short part of a hard rock / alternative song ( "Numb" by Linkin Park ) and a bit of "Here Without You" by Three Doors Down ( I dont want to sound cliché, but you want to get girls interested, too, and some of them might be able to relate more easily to a song like that, than to a System Of A Down song )
What I learned the hard way is that shredding in front of them, or playing sophisticated jazz lines might look and sound interesting to them, but they usually can´t understand that, relate to it or even appreciate it.
Even if it is less interesting for YOU, you might wanna focus on something easy that is fun for them, something they know.
What we i.e. did was, we also brought a CD player. Then, I tuned my low E-string to D, and asked whether one of the boys would be willing to try playing on my guitar, with my guidance.
Usually, there´s at least one among the teenagers who wants to try. So I showed the guy the powerchords of the intro and chorus of "Numb" by Linkin Park. Those are "Dropped-D Powerchords", you can play them with one finger. There´s one every bar, so the tempo isnt too high either.
And within 2 minutes or so, the kid was able to play a chunk of "Numb" in front of his class-mates, and it sounded pretty decent. THAT was way more interesting and fascinating to him and his class mates than me showing off any tapping-skills or whatever.
I also once did an instore-workshop at a guitar store, and I did a lot of shred-type stuff. Some of the kids had blank looks on their face. They simply hadn´t heard anything like that before, cuz they were mainly fans of bands like Korn, Slipknot, Good Charlotte etc.
When I played the ( rather easy ) riffs of some songs by those artists, they immediately were smiling and nodding their heads. Something they can relate to....

What you need to remember is that you CAN try to get those kids into improvisation, soloing, shredding, different styles of music and whatever. It just might need time, and you can either do it by being strict and teaching them only what you think they need, in the order you think is appropiate, OR try to "connect" to them by teaching them some songs they like, which I consider more motivating.
If I wanna teach a young one about playing songs all the way through, and learn powerchords, I don´t pick a song like "Paranoid", cuz most of them don´t listen to vintage Black Sabbath all day long ( if they even know it ).
They might listen to Metallica, The Hives, The Vines, The Strokes, The White Stripes, and there are a bunch of songs by those artists you can teach the kid rather quickly. And that is motivating for the student.
Teaching a big class, to me, is way more exhausting than teaching a single student or a group of two. Kids might chit chat among each others, so you kinda "lose control". You ever need to be quite strict and tell them to listen, or approach them on a "peer base", being funny, kind, and talk to them like adults, not like the "big evil teacher", if you know what I mean.
Don´t be too nervous. Remember that you should be confident, and kids notice quickly if you´re insecure or nervous, and might point that out by disobeying, ignoring or even interrupting you etc.
If you can´t avoid it, tell them you´re a bit nervous... I am sure they can relate, cuz occasionally, they are nervous too if they i.e. have to recite something in front of their class-mates
Your material ( the stuff you prepared ) sounds good, but remember what I said above: keep it easy to understand and relate to for the kids, based on their age. For a 12 year old, it´s way more interesting if you play tunes from Star Wars ( the main theme or the Imperial March ) or the Spongebob theme than playing a bossa nova.
This, of course, is just my opinion, but it´s how I approach teaching, and I have done that for about 12 or 13 years now.
Hope this helps

04-25-2005, 10:28 AM
Thanks for your advice, Russ! Right that moment I stumbled across Blvd. of broken dreams by Green Day on the web. This might be a starting point, as I dont know what might be prefered by the kids. And that´s a song they probably all like, if they´re into rock/guitar music......

04-25-2005, 10:31 AM
Of course, Russ is correct, too, and I didn´t mean to say that you can´t impress them by doing some crazy tapping or go crazy on the wang-bar... just consider holding back on extended bossa nova or funk, since many of them prolly haven´t heard this stuff ( again, depending on their age ), or can´t relate to it yet.

04-25-2005, 10:35 AM
Thank you Eric for the tips!! Highly appreciated and very helpful! Kids are around 11-14 years old - so Green Day Linking Park might be of interest. I gotta try that out today.....

05-11-2005, 07:46 PM
I just thought I´d post that everything worked pretty well today. Had 3 classes, made minor mistakes as far as my "program" went, but all in all it was quite ok.

So, thanx again for all your replies Eric & Russ! :-)


05-14-2005, 03:47 PM
So, what happened? Did you get any new students?

And congratulations on a job well done it sounds :)

05-14-2005, 04:02 PM
Thank you very much; Necromortis! If I really get a few students will be known in around a week or so. I gave them a form to fill out and bring back to their music teacher if they´re interested in learning the guitar. I got the feeling that at least 5-6 people will get back to me....But hopefully it´ll be more... We´ll see how it turns out... In 2 weeks I got me next share of showcases, so till then I´m trying to make everything as perfect as possible..... Cant tell you how glad I am that this turned out quite good. Its a great feeling :-)

ALEX :-)

05-14-2005, 04:11 PM
That's great! By the way, what did you play, and what did you do. I'm very interested in what exactly you did, what worked, what didn't.

I'd like to teach people a bit later in life as a job to get me going, so this could prove invaluable :)

Congratulations again :)

05-14-2005, 04:13 PM
UKRuss wrote:

Giving guitar lessons is very much like making love to a beautiful woman:
First you got to make sure they want it.......

Aaaahh.....so, first I should make sure they.....oh....that explains it....uh nevermind... :D

wait.....isn't it good enough that I want it enough for both of us???


05-14-2005, 04:42 PM
That's great! By the way, what did you play, and what did you do. I'm very interested in what exactly you did, what worked, what didn't.

I'd like to teach people a bit later in life as a job to get me going, so this could prove invaluable :)

Congratulations again :)

Thanks! :-)
Well first introduced myself and started with a few questions to get them involved a bit (i.e Does anybody play an instrument; if so which one? What bands with el. guitar players do you know?) Gotta work on that though to have 1-2 questions more to stretch the time a bit... then I explained the guitar and its components and my amp plus some various fx/distortions; explained the differences, etc..

After that I played a blues (backin track on cd) to show them what you can do rythmically (i.e. playing 7th-chords, walking bassline, double stops/horn stabs, funky). I´d ask if they´ve got some questions and finally asked if someone´s wanna try playing the guitar even if they never held one in their hands. I´d show them an E & G Powerchord and let them play the open strings while changing to different effects/dist. Sometimes it would work, sometimes dont. Also, here´s something I´ll think over again to make it a bit better. But it actually went down quite good anyway.

Then I played a backing of Green Days Blvd. of broken dreams and played its vocal melody over it. Then I´d let the rest of them try out the guitar.

And at last I played an improvisation over a ballad backing track. It didnt seem to work out that well, allthough it wasnt that bad. Just not the perfect choice, so I changed it on the second day to Limp Bizkits Behind Blues Eyes, which they liked much better....


05-14-2005, 05:02 PM
You're target is 11-14 year olds right? Yeah, the Limp Bizkit's song would definately garner their attention better than a ballad. But they killed a classic Who song...

05-14-2005, 05:18 PM
Yes, 12-14! Totally agree with you on LP here. Allthough I gotta admit; when they started out i quite dug them; but in the end they dont really seem to be able to write a REALLY good song after all.....

05-14-2005, 07:20 PM
Thanks! :-)
...so I changed it on the second day to Limp Bizkits Behind Blues Eyes, which they liked much better....

Punch 'em in the eye till they can see it straight, then play some Hendrix for them... then punch em in the eye again. Good luck, congrats, and keep em interested.