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mubashir khatri




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Published on: 06 Mar 2017 by mubashir-khatri

Teaching Guitar to Groups of Children

If you are new to teaching guitar to children in groups you will likely follow a familiar path. I have personally been teaching children for over 20 years but originally only taught one on one. My early belief was group teaching was less effective but the truth was I just did not know how to teach groups of children guitar. Here is how and what I learned.

My first experiences with group teaching were with adults. Adults are very easy to teach in groups because they listen without any need for rules. In other words they are all ears. There are some challenges of course but those challenges are mostly to do with guitar playing

Here are the stages of learning to effectively group teach children guitar.

Stage 1. The awakening - I began by doing rock band work with younger kids in a group environment and quickly realised that with out some class rules there was going to be a lot of noise and very little constructive progress. I wanted the kids to enjoy themselves so in those early days I would just go with the flow. I soon realised that the kids who were serious were actually becoming frustrated by those kids who just wanted to mess around. The serious students soon dropped out and the others also dropped out soon after simply because they were not really serious about learning guitar.

Stage 2. Setting rules - I then did some research on what great teachers do to get results with groups of kids. The answer was rules. I did not want to have a lot of rules so I thought about what rules made the greatest impact. I broke it down to 3 rules in the end. 1. Fill in your practice log. All students must fill in their log each day. If you are not practicing there is no point. 2. In class if you have a question put your hand up. 3. Only play when and what I ask you to. These rules ensure students were learning and progressing.

Stage 3. Class strategies - I now had their attention so it was important I knew where I was going and what the objective was. I created the G4 GUITAR METHOD with Checklists so everyone was clear about the goal. I learned many years ago that the best lesson you can teach children is how to learn. Learning how to learn is more important that the content itself. In other words teaching them how to break tasks down into achievable steps with a clear goal in view is how they gain confidence. Many teachers get wrapped up in trying to come up with songs that will inspire their students from week to week but this is not a recommended strategy. Having a set program allows you to develop your teaching strategies each week because you learn how to get students over the same hurdles with greater ease. This builds confidence in both you and your students.

Stage 4. Routine - Once you develop your class strategies its now time to increase the speed. Think of it like learning a song. At first you need to work out the parts of the song. If it is an unfamiliar or difficult chord progression you may need to think about the best position and fingering. This can be compared to 'Class Strategies'. From then on its about increasing the speed. By setting a routine your students know what to expect. This saves time explaining therefore your classes gain momentum. A 30 minute group class with a seasoned pro is like a private hour lesson with most other teachers. Its like comparing a 30 minute pump class at the gym to spending an hour moving from one machine to another with lots of breaks and pointless conversations with other gym members. The sheer pace of the class keeps students focused for 30 minutes. This then conditions them for their only daily practice.

The Result - Here is an example. A good routine is to begin every class with 5 mins of isolated picking. Start slow and even then lift the tempo in steps. By doing this students will want to practice picking each week so they get faster. Next pick a skill and do 10 minutes. E.g. Reading. Next do another skill or song. 3 minutes revise and answer question or have a little fun. Show off your own guitar skills. Leave them on high. Pumped and motivated. Last 2 minutes try and speak to a parent or two. While you are doing this usher your next group in and ask them to start with the picking. Don't ever leave them just sitting there.

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