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teaching advice from seasoned pros?

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Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 157
Topic starter  

hey guys, I have been teaching guitar for about a year now and am loving it. To date, i have never taught a student from absolute beginner, they all had some prior knowledge or experience going into the lesson.

Today, I have a student coming in who has never touched a guitar, and in fact doesn't yet own one. I was wondering if anybody had any advice on how to tackle a complete beginners lesson. He is 16 as well so patience may be a little lacking.

Any tips/advice greatly apreeshed.

Don't sweat it dude, just play!

Steinar Gregertsen
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 503

I found a beginner "self study" book that I have modified a little and use when teaching beginners, see if you can find one that you think would work for you.
The biggest challenge IMO, when teaching beginners at that age, is that most of them want to get up and rock on the big stages asap and sometimes have a hard time understanding the point of learning "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (just an example... :oops: ) - so look for easy songs in their favorite genre you can teach as soon as they're ready for it. For the dedicated 'rockers' I usually go for some AC/DC stuff like "Highway To Hell" or "Back In Black", or something similar, pretty early on - they won't be able to play them perfectly, but it'll give them a taste of things to come and make the 'boring stuff' easier to cope with. Keeping a good balance between "fun" and "boring but necessary" is crucial....

Good luck! 8)

"Play to express, not to impress"
Website - YouTube

Illustrious Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 8184

i'm not a seasoned pro and i've never taught anyone how to play the guitar formally, but i'd suggest you go to the new players forum and see if you can get any ideas there. figure out where they'll probably run into stumbling blocks and fix the problem before it manifests itself.
also, show him the idea behind the 1-4-5 chord relationship and teach him 3 chords. probably g d c.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921

Depends on how long the lesson is, but for a complete beginner with no experience I wouldn't get into theory or more than 2 chords. Don't skip the basics!

- how to hold a guitar
- how to hold a pick
- names of the strings (letters and numbers)
- how frets are numbered
- how fingers are numbered
- how to tune
- playing single notes (I usually start with E-F-G on the 1st string)
- a couple simple chords - Em and G, or Em and D6/9 if you want to do a tune (Horse With No Name); you could also start with power chords
- how to read a chord diagram
- strumming and counting

If you put much more than that into a first lesson with a total beginner, they'll get frustrated. If you put in any less, YOU'LL get frustrated - because you won't have established the tools to communicate!

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL