Does a good guitar player make a good guitar teacher?
Both playing guitar and teaching guitar require knowledge and skill but does a good guitar player make a good guitar teacher?
Well, the act of teaching guitar requires certain skills that are not required in guitar playing. Examples of this are good communication skills, analytical thinking and the ability to prepare and organise high quality guitar teaching material.
Compare guitar teaching to our school days
We only have to think back to our school days to see that some teachers are engaging and inspirational – even whilst teaching potentially dull subjects – whilst others are not.
Which of our schoolteachers was the best mathematician or historian? From the position of a student it’s hard to judge this.
Which was the better teacher though? That’s much easier to say, and as long as what they taught was correct and met the requirements of the subject curriculum, then that’s far more important.
Strike a balance in your guitar teaching
Above a certain threshold, our guitar skills are less important than our ability to teach guitar.
The ability to alternate pick 16th notes at 200bpm will not make or break your guitar teaching career. We naturally want to keep improving our guitar skills but we mustn’t overlook the importance of good guitar teaching skills.
Guitar teaching and empathy
Good guitar teachers can put themselves in the place of their students and empathise with what it is like to be a beginner.
Once upon a time we all struggled to remember and hold down an open D chord. Try to keep this memory fresh and it will keep you grounded and in touch with your less developed guitar students.
Try to understand what your guitar students struggle with and how you the guitar teacher can best fix their problems.
Communication and good guitar teaching
Speaking slowly and using words accurately to explain concepts are essential components of good tuition.
The ability to come up with alternative explanations is another.
Providing the right exercise at the right time for each students is yet another.
Each of these guitar teaching skills is distinct from our guitar playing ability and takes time to acquire. Try to spend time both during lessons and outside of teaching time thinking about how you can improve what you do as a guitar teacher.
Does a good guitar player make a good guitar teacher? Not always. But, if you have yet to start teaching guitar, don’t let the fear of not being good enough hold you back.
As I cover in my article ‘Am I good enough to be a guitar teacher’, you don’t have to be the best guitar player in the world in order to be a guitar teacher; just much better than your students and willing to keep working on your guitar teaching skills. Keep improving as a guitar, sure, but you must work at developing as a guitar teacher too.
The payoff will be both personal and financial.
|Stuart Bahn is a professional guitar teacher in London, and creator of the Be A Guitar Teacher video course.|
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