I have a pretty succesful teaching business in my hometown. It's home-based, and has gone well, seeing large numbers within the last 2 years. I find myself however, continually caught in trying to find the proper balance between giving a student a song they want to learn and incorporating some theory
into it. Many students are happy to simply be able to duplicate a song on a guitar, but I don't feel that this is enough of a lesson in itself. Issues like Time Signature, Key, Lead positionsthe hows and whys...I find that some students turn a deaf ear to these ideas when I attempt to infuse them into whatever song they are learning, and as a teacher, I feel obligated to give them a little more than a Tablature Sheet showing them how to replicate a song. Most students will bore quickly with straight out notation theory and memory work, but there must be a balance somewhere. Any thoughts?
Some great feedback on this column! I've gotten alot from everyone's own approaches to teaching. I guess I thought I wasn't doing enough for some students, (and perhaps for some I wasn't) but reading through the responses has both given me some better practical approaches and re-assured me that I do incorporate alot of theory into my own lessons, whether I realize it or not. I remember having a guitar teacher when I was very young, and it was pretty much "It's your dime" approach, with very little effort, looking back, on the part of my instructor to
do much to build a foundation that would serve as a platform for further studies. He would scratch out a quick Tab of whatever song I wanted to learn, and it would end there. I always swore I would never be that type of instructor. I don't use the Hal Leonard Book series or any sort of similar book, as I know that those books are linear and they simply don't address the whole picture for most students. Mark said it perfectly...they want to play songs, and they want to be able to do something musically almost immediately, and theory must be introduced tactfully unless the student requests a more formal theory study. I've had alot of success to date, with most of my students entering their 3rd year with me...I just want to continue to improve on my own teaching approaches. Everyone has offered alot of great input, and I appreciate these columns immensely. One thing I always tell my students, you will never stop learning, and that includes the teach!