Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Teaching Seasoned Players

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Teaching Seasoned Players

Article excerpt

Beginners and intermediate players constitute the bulk of student populations, but have you ever experienced the challenge of working with a student who is clearly a "better" musician and guitarist than you are? In my discussions with guitar teachers, I've noticed that this topic never comes up unless I raise it, but everyone has such stories. Perhaps we find it hard to admit.

A guitarist whose playing knocks you out can still learn something from you-and that's good because our livelihood depends on us serving as wide a market as possible. You may have to give up the comfortable feeling of dazzling a student with your prowess, but a nice side effect is that you might learn as much as your student does.

We might begin this discussion by defining our terms. What does "better" mean? What constitutes a good guitarist, or a good teacher for that matter? What is the best way you can serve a student of any level? Can you deal with a student as a peer? Is your self-confidence ready for the challenge, for any self-doubt or feelings of intimidation that might arise? You must come up with your own answers, but I encourage teachers to look beyond technical skill sets to discover their own core strengths.

A teacher can provide encouragement and inspiration to all students and provide an atmosphere of joy and discovery that may, in fact, be harder for the accomplished player to access than the wide-eyed beginner. Your role with a seasoned player may be seen as a professional development coach. Your job might be to simply stay out of the way, to be there with ideas, to provide fresh questions rather than to offer answers. The most important thing you can do is listen-to their playing, their questions, their concerns, their stories.

I start the first session with an advanced player by asking questions and discovering goals. The student probably has very specific, targeted objectives and interests. …

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