How To Get Your Guitar Students To Practice And Make Faster Progress

Author: Ed Cupler


Tom HessDo your guitar students not make as much progress as you would like them to? Does it seem like your approach to guitar teaching only helps your students get small results (if any)? Have you ever had to admit to yourself that you really ‘do not know’ why one (or more) of your students is failing to learn what you are teaching him/her on guitar? These issues are common for all guitar teachers and must be overcome if you want to turn your students into better guitar players and build a solid reputation for your guitar teaching business.

The truth is, the majority of students learning guitar do not have very good playing skills, and will never improve them while taking guitar lessons with most guitar instructors. There is a wide range of reasons for why this occurs, however you can avoid this problem for YOUR guitar students by teaching them the one thing most teachers do not: ‘how to practice guitar’.

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Even if you show your guitar students a million different licks, solos or techniques, it will all go to waste if you do not correctly teach your students to practice the things you show them. It is absolutely CRITICAL that you learn how to do this if you want to succeed as a guitar teacher and give your guitar students the results that they are paying you for.

By doing this you will not only get better results for your guitar students, but you will simultaneously be setting yourself apart from the majority of mediocre guitar teachers in your local area.

Before I get into the details of how you can do this, it is important for you to understand where you are at right now in your understanding of teaching guitar. Get a better understanding of where you are at as a guitar teacher with this guitar teaching assessment.

Why Guitar Students Have No Clue About How To Practice

Reason 1:
Some guitar instructors do put ‘some’ effort to show their students how to practice guitar, but this effort comes in the form of a very short instruction (that the student quickly forgets). Take the following for example: While showing students how to play clean and articulated arpeggios, it is common for the student to struggle to separate one note from the other without ringing together. In many cases, the guitar teacher will advise the student to make sure not to allow the different notes to ring at the same time when they practice on their own in between lessons. They may even demonstrate how this is done a few times before the lesson is over. Unfortunately, this does not truly help the guitar student in a way that ‘sticks’ and the student ends up committing the same mistakes over again during the following entire week of practicing. When the next lesson comes, the problem is still there – but why?
Why is it that many guitar students continue making the same mistakes while practicing even after being told/shown otherwise? Here are the reasons:

a) Occasionally, your guitar student will remember what causes the mistake but will forget how to correct it.

b) The student has already forgotten the main cause of the problem and continued to unknowingly play while making the same mistake over and over.

c) Some students will ‘think’ that they understood what you were explaining, but really did not understand. This results in them spending the whole week practicing incorrectly.

All of this translates into you having to re-teach the student how to practice what they learned on guitar the next week (when they should’ve already been making progress from last week!). Here is why this approach to teaching guitar practice is a total failure:

1. During the guitar lesson, your student believes that he/she understands how to practice, but when they are on their own in between lessons they do it wrong or forget what to do.

2. You aren’t investing enough time into explaining how to practice guitar so that your guitar students truly understand.

3. You don’t ever SEE your guitar students practice, therefore you don’t actually know if they understand what you are teaching them to do. When you hear them play what you showed them last week, you are not seeing the process they used to play it; you are only seeing the end result.

Reason 2: Almost all guitar teachers spend the majority of their time teaching various new techniques, licks or other ideas while spending little or no time actually showing their guitar students how to practice. In general, guitar teachers are under the assumption that they need to constantly show their students new things each lesson. They treat guitar practice as something that is not really worthy of discussion and usually just assume that the student will simply ‘know’ how to do this on their own.

Reason 3: Many guitar teachers give guitar practice advice to their students in a generic, all-encompassing manner. That said, highly trained guitar teachers teach their students a variety of guitar practicing strategies that are specific to their goals and challenges. This helps guitar students of those teachers to make much faster progress than those students who only learn a few general guitar practice principles that they are supposed to apply to everything they learn.

Here Are The Solutions That You Must Use

Now that you have better comprehension of why it is essential to show your guitar students HOW to practice and you have seen how traditional guitar teaching approaches fail, here are some solutions you can use to avoid the mistakes discussed above:

Solution Number One. When you teach your guitar students something new, spend a significant amount of time (about a quarter of the lesson) showing them how to practice it. Do not show them a ton of new stuff without helping them learn how to actually practice it.

Number Two.
You must both SHOW your guitar students how to practice and WATCH them do it in front of you. Don’t make the mistake of expecting them to remember how to
practice based on your words alone. Some guitar teachers feel uncomfortable with spending so much time having their students practice during the lesson
rather than learn ‘new things’. If you have the same mindset, think about this: In the end, your guitar students really only want a great result from you
when they come to you for lessons. Understanding how to properly practice guitar is a crucial part of getting great results and advancing on guitar. If the
student goes home and practices improperly, then they essentially will have wasted an entire week’s worth of time, energy and money. This will only
frustrate them as they make little to no progress only to repeat the same cycle again next week when they come back to relearn what they were supposed to
learn last week. This is why you must make it your number one purpose to get your guitar students to practice properly and get the result they came to you

Solution Number Three.
Don’t ever assume that your guitar students are more advanced than they really are. Of course ‘you’ understand all of the specific details of what to
listen for, where to place your finger and so forth in order to get the intended result in your guitar playing, however, your students often do NOT know
about these things. Explain to them clearly what needs to be practiced in full detail and write this down for them so that they can revisit the steps when
they are on their own.

Solution Number Four.
Many guitar teachers feel pressured when they are trying to show their guitar students how to practice and the student says something like “Ok I get… can
we talk about X already?” Don’t cave in when your guitar students try to take control of the lesson like this. Make sure that your students truly ‘get it’
100% so that when they get home they don’t realize that they really don’t ‘get it’ and end up practicing wrong. Remind them that by learning how to
properly practice guitar they will reach their guitar playing goals much faster.

Solution Number Five.
If your guitar students are having a difficult time playing their lesson materials for you during their next lesson, don’t merely ask them to ‘play it
again’. This is the mistake that average guitar instructors make. Truly effective guitar instructors get their students to show them how they PRACTICED the
material they learned in order to see the fundamental cause of any playing errors. Next, they will help the student understand what it is that they need to
listen for during their guitar practice time so that they can correct any mistakes without additional guidance. This approach is highly effective at
getting guitar students to progress faster on their own.

Now that you have read the information in this article, here is what you should do next:

1. Assess your current ability for teaching your students to practice guitar by using this free guitar teaching assessment.

2. Make it a priority for all of your guitar students to fully understand why knowing how to practice guitar effectively will get them the results they
desire (in much less time).

3. Actively use the information in this article to teach your guitar students. Don’t just acknowledge the ideas, USE them! :)

Once you have fully integrated the ideas of this article into your guitar teaching approach you will begin seeing progress in your guitar students like
you’ve never seen before. On top of that, you will find yourself quickly becoming the most in demand guitar teacher around!

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a guitar teacher trainer, composer and a professional touring musician. He plays guitar in the epic metal band Rhapsody Of Fire. He trains guitar teachers to become highly successful in his guitar teacher training program. Go to to get access to effective guitar teaching resources and read more articles about teaching guitar.

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