Tips on Getting the Most Out of Guitar Lessons
In these modern times of student centred learning many educational conversations are focused on what the teacher can do to improve the effectiveness of his classes. Too few questions emphasize the demands of the student! There are many things the student can and should do in order to get the most out of guitar lessons.
Come to the lessons prepared. This means have your guitar tuned and your material ready. Too often classes begin with five precious minutes wasted on tuning. Teachers ought to teach their students how to do this themselves anyway, since guitars constantly get out of tune (at least a little) and knowing how to retune is a must. The student must have his material ready to go and organized in a folder.
Along these lines the student should have a list of songs they want to play/learn. Most teachers have an arsenal of songs they’ve taught dozens of time, but it’s always best teaching songs the student feels passionately about. For this reason it’s best if they select the song themselves. It’s also best if they have it all ready to go before the lesson so no time is spent contemplating their favourite songs.
A teachers dream occurs when a student says something along the lines of, “I was practicing a lot this week, and I have questions about this.” Have your problems ready for your teacher off the bat. It shows you are dedicated to improving and makes the teachers’ job a good deal easier. It saves a lot of time in class because the teacher doesn’t have to spend time probing and asking questions about what issues arose in practice. It’s also encouraging for the teacher to know their student did practice and invested such substantial thought into their practice. Teachers need encouragement too sometimes!
An underrated aspect of the students role is to listen to a good deal of music. Getting turned on to new music is exciting, and this generates enthusiasm for playing. Playing pop music is great so long as the student is really passionate about it. Ultimately, passion for music is all that matters, but it’s the teachers job to open up a universe of music that’s larger than the student ever expected. Likewise, it helps when the student takes this idea seriously and listens to different kinds of music.
The most obvious answer is also the most important. Practice. Lessons get repetitive for the teacher and student alike when progress is slow or nonexistent. There’s only so many ways to frame basic open position chords. There’s a point too where playing the same thing gets tiring and discouraging, but if the student spends a good deal of time at the beginning they’ll bypass this period of stagnation. Inventive teachers will find ways of encouraging their students, but ultimately there’s no substitute for hard work and hours on the instrument.
Commit this much to the instrument and your lessons will surely be a smooth ride! So make beautiful music, and most importantly, have fun.