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Getting new students? 3 Replies

Started by James Kuhnel. Last reply by GuitarMC Jun 13, 2013.

Teaching Males vs. Females 6 Replies

Started by GuitarMC. Last reply by GuitarMC Jun 13, 2013.

Any tips for teaching C9, Cadd9, C2, Cadd2, Csus2 16 Replies

Started by Donna Zitzelberger. Last reply by GuitarMC Jan 23, 2013.

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Comment by Terry Angelli on April 2, 2011 at 11:14am
M. Jackson & M. DeLalla, thank you both for you lengthy replies to my post.

I do agree that theory is important. However the lack of it never stopped me from learning chords, progressions, scales, etc.. I am of the school of thought that music was being made long before someone decided to write it down on paper. Do I think I need theory or I wish I could read sheet music? You bet.

Having started to do some homework I agree with M. DeLalla that theory should be a part of learning guitar. At this point I'm inclined to think that it can be rolled into the overall lessons rather than "today we will learn theory" lessons. When I took the few guitar and bass lessons that I did as a kid, it wasn't a fun learning experience. Both instructors started off with "this is the "C" scale, go home and practice it." Man I just wanted to play, not learn all the formalities and as a result I quit.

M. Jackson you have a similar situation to mine. Personally I'm not hesitant about stepping into those waters.  As I see it now, before I get my own theory training, if I started teaching I would inform the prospect that if they want formal training I am not their guy. But if they want to learn how to make chords, how they relate to each other in progressions and some scales while making a few dollars I can handle that.

And your point "if I am sitting here wishing I could play easily by sight, why should I teach someone else who someday will be wishing the same thing?" is well taken. Again, if they want the formal training I'm not that teacher, at least not yet.

Now as far as getting and keeping students excited is something I have no problem doing. As I mentioned in my original post I am currently a full time instructor at a private trade school. My class size is 15 mostly younger (avg. age is 22) students and keeping them interested in HVAC/R for 5.5 hours a day, five days a week is a challenge I rise to every day!

I've been fortunate in that I've received "proper" training at work and I guess I'm a natural when it comes to teaching. I used to have my own videography business and I trained several second camera operators to shoot video with me. I received a number of compliments on how well I had shown them how to use the camera, set up angles and shot composition, etc.. Combine that with my other jobs in my career where often I was asked or had to provide instruction to other HVAC/R tech's and I've wound up with a skill that I don't have to work hard at! Now I just have to cross that over to teaching guitar.

So you are correct M. Jackson, you can have all of the sheepskins in the world and NOT be a teacher. At this point in my life I feel that I am a good teacher.

"I also think it's to their credit that the teachers at this group did not chastise you or otherwise discourage you from teaching. That says a lot about their character." I couldn't agree more! When I got no reply from my initial post I thought that perhaps they couldn't be bothered with someone like me. Obviously I was dead wrong.

Now as for "developing a course and testing it out on someone before going public?" I've already taken on a student who I will be teaching for free. He is a self taught player so it will be interesting to see what, if any, bad habits he has developed and how I can straighten them out along with him learning his instrument as best I can show him. This will allow me to develop a curriculum, forms, interview questions, tracking progress, and on and on so I'll be prepared when I hang out my shingle and start looking to get paid for my efforts.

Lastly, I came across a site that was very helpful and I've purchased "How To Make A Living Teaching Guitar" which is sold on the site.

Nick Minnion is the guru here and he has a load of free information on his site. He also offers a book called "Fifty Flexible Lesson Plans for teaching guitar" that I'm considering buying as well.

Thank you one and all for the great information and help!
Comment by Michael DeLalla on April 1, 2011 at 11:49am

I'm alive and well too--sometimes too busy to check in, and the notices I get via email don't usually give enough information to nudge me--maybe there's a setting I can change to fix that.

I'll just say that I believe Theory is important. Yes, you can learn to do some things without it, but like anything else the deeper you understand what it is you are doing the more fulfilling it will be. When students come to me, I let them know that Theory will be part of the instruction. If they just want to learn imitative licks and chord progressions they don't need to be coming to me. I can say with some certainty that ALL of my students have found Theory instruction beneficial. And I'm closing in on 30 years of teaching.

I realize not everyone rolls this way--it's a large universe, with many kinds of students and, thankfully, many kinds of teachers to accommodate them. But for those of you looking to add some Theory knowledge base to your skill set, check out this website for the basics: . Then, incorporate the afore-mentioned site by Chris Davis, as he applies it to the fretboard. I also teach Theory from a fretboard, not keyboard perspective--when visiting Guitarville, do as the Guitarists...

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on April 1, 2011 at 9:18am

Terry -

I read your original post and didn't reply because I am in the same situation and I wanted to hear what the others had to say. I have taught banjo but that's another animal. The reason I am hesitant about teaching guitar (even though I've been playing for 45 years) is because of my lack of formal music training. By that I am not referring to the college courses I took in classical music but rather music theory.

I can read music, I know the timing, and I play classical solely from standard notation. But I will probably never be good enough to play completely by sight, up to speed. Rather, I spend time each day learning, sometimes measure-by-measure, the pieces I commit to memory.

I also play blues, country, R&R and anything I can get my hands on.

I found a place that has a good basic course and completed it a couple of months ago. Please look up Christopher Davis (maybe Chris Davis). He's a classical guitarist who not only offers this course (Music Theory 101) and others (learning the fretboard, etc.). He will be offering a more advanced course soon.

What I like about this one is it actually makes sense. It's not something you can download and learn later, though you can download the lessons and exercises - just not the videos he sometimes uses to explain things. You'll see what I mean. You also have contact with him and he's very good at answering your questions and you can see all the other students' questions and responses. Cost is $25 which gives you access to the fretboard study, etc.

Even if you don't get his course, I highly recommend his blog. It's free and there is a lot of information there, including extensive posts on practice which you will need as a teacher.

The reason I didn't want to teach at this point is because if I am sitting here wishing I could play easily by sight, why should I teach someone else who someday will be wishing the same thing?

Andy and Joseph make some very good points. First, let them know you won't be teaching any theory right up front and let them make that decision. Second, getting the student motivated and keeping them excited about playing are paramount. I don't care if you hold a PhD from a prestigious music school, if you can't read your student, make them so excited about guitar that they just can't keep their hands off it, and if you don't help them through the plateaus and other dangers, if you don't make them think for themselves, you're not a teacher. I know this from personal experience (as I've written about at the group before).

So maybe, like you, I can teach. I have taught many classes in other areas as well and I know for sure I will keep my students' interests in the forefront.

If I do, I will stress the importance - especially to the younger students - to learn music theory as it will benefit them. I advise you to do the same should you teach. You can refer them to other teachers who teach that.

I also think it's to their credit that the teachers at this group did not chastise you or otherwise discourage you from teaching. That says a lot about their chracter.

Like you, I would appreciate thoughts on this. I also wonder about developing a course and testing it out on someone before going public?

To close an already too long post, I just want to say one last thing: There is a difference between being an instructor and in being a teacher.

Thanks, all.

Comment by Terry Angelli on April 1, 2011 at 7:18am

Well lookie here there ARE folks on this group! ;-)

Thanks to all who posted about my not having a strong background in theory, etc.. I've since further researched this and see that I do need those skills but that it is not a prerequisite for taking on students. So I'm going to seek out theory info both on the web and possibly and instructor for myself. Can anyone suggest a good website for learning theory?

I've also taken on a student that I'm going to instruct for free to test the waters. This will give me further insight to be able to take the next step in seeking paying students

Now what about advertising?  Any suggestions for the best approach to this? Anyone have success with Yellow pages, Craig's List, etc.?

Comment by John Gundrum on April 1, 2011 at 6:13am
Still breathing here!!!  I pop in here and there in between many other things happening.  Like right now, gotta get back to making some sheets!
Comment by Joseph Anthony Zarola on March 31, 2011 at 9:26pm
You don't need degrees, You need to communicate with practical knowledge.  Most guitar students I have, aren't interested in theory or reading skills, they want to play. Play for them, get them motivated, and give them individual attention right from the start. Position, relaxation, and please have FUN! Laugh with them, and make the experience a happy one.
Comment by Joseph Anthony Zarola on March 31, 2011 at 9:22pm
Hello. I am alive also....just watching and enjoying...I think we are all so busy with additional hours and costs this year, that we don't get the down- time we used to have for an enjoyable evening chat. Thanks for the wake-up call!
Comment by Andy Tulenko on March 31, 2011 at 9:07pm


No, we are not dead.  Just busy.  Sorry I did not get back to you on your post. It's hard work to get and keep students, and I'm struggling to do it.  Everyday is a new adventure.

Nothing wrong with teaching with your credentials.  Just be sure and let your students know what kind of lessons you will be giving.


I don't have any music degrees either, but I know theory and have the know how to pass on my knowledge and skills.  So, go for it.  You should invest the time to learn some theory.  You will be surprised at how easy it comes to you since you have been playing so long.



Congrats!  I know the feeling.  I love teaching. It fills that need that we each have to do something that makes a difference.

Comment by Terry Angelli on March 31, 2011 at 5:04pm


Congrats on your 25th year! That's great. It appears that this group, despite 161 members, is dead in the water.

I posted a "hello" and asked a question (post right below this) over two weeks ago and got ZERO response. So either the 161 arent interested OR none want to deal with a guy who has no formal training? Who knows?

Anyway hope you have another 25 successful years teaching!

Comment by Loren Neufeld on March 30, 2011 at 4:10pm
Hey y'all! Celebrating my 25th year of teaching guitar, bass and mandolin! I still love the teaching/interacting with all the students. Never a dull moment. I'm in Manitoba, Canada. Have some good fingerstyle players this year. I teach privately but closely networking with a local music store.

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