One of the biggest challenges of teaching guitar to adults is that they often come to guitar lessons with preconceptions of how they should be taught. While this might not seem like a big deal, it can often be extremely damaging to the learning process.
Because often those preconceptions are totally wrong. If the student continues to believe that their way is the right way, they will become very resistant to how they’re being taught. This means that they will usually quit after a few lessons, go to another teacher and continue the same pattern again.
One very common preconception that guitarists have is that they should receive a certain amount of new information at each and every lesson. For Example: Sometimes on guitar forums a guitarist will post that they are looking for a new guitar teacher. They then go on to say somewhere in their post that they expect to be taught a certain number of things in each lesson. (On one forum post the poster said that he expected to be taught at least five new things at each lesson). All I can say is that I hope that they never contact me for guitar lessons!
Is Information Really In Short Supply?
Let’s take a step backwards for a second. I’d like you to answer the following questions…
- How many instructional guitar videos do you think there are on websites like YouTube?
- How many guitar educational books, DVDs and courses do you think you think have been released?
- How many guitar forums and guitar websites do you think are online?
I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that you couldn’t possibly read, watch or listen to all the guitar educational information currently available in one lifetime. In other words, you could spend the rest of your life learning new information without ever seeing a guitar teacher.
So going to a guitar teacher with the expectation of being given a lot of new information at each lesson is truly retarded. It basically turns your teacher into just a new source of information, rather than allowing them to help you.
Why Expecting New Information At Every Lesson Slows Down Your Progress
It can be very frustrating trying to help a student who believes that they should be taught new things in every lesson. The main reason is that it becomes next to impossible to help them progress at their fastest possible rate. Here are just a few reasons why…
It Avoids The Real Issue
The major problem with focusing on information is that it doesn’t address the real issue. The real reason why someone goes to a guitar teacher is to get help moving closer to their musical goals.
For Example: Let’s say that you would like to improve your improvisational skills. Then the primary focus of the guitar lessons should be to help improve your improvisational skills NOT give you information.
Of course, giving you new information will definitely be part of the teaching process, but it most definitely shouldn’t be the primary focus. If a guitar teacher keeps on giving you new information, but your improvisational skills don’t improve, then how useful was that information? (Side Note: I’m assuming that you are a diligent student who practices and does what the teacher says. Of course, lessons won’t help if you don’t follow the teacher’s advice).
It Stops Deep Learning
Good guitar teachers will help a student learn something from many different angles. They will give something to a student to learn, and then over a period of time help the student master and apply what they have been taught. In other words, they help the student take what they have been taught and apply it in a way that helps them achieve their musical goals.
Because this process of mastering something may take numerous lessons, then expecting to get new information at every lesson sabotages this mastering process. And if you aren’t working towards mastering things, the progress you’ll make will be minimal.
It Causes Overwhelm
If you are being bombarded with new information all the time you will reach a point where you can’t keep up. You’ll end up either just superficially learning the material, or you’ll quit going to lessons because you feel overwhelmed. (And quitting lessons makes it pretty hard for your guitar teacher to help you progress!).
It Creates An Illusion Of Progress
I can definitely see why some guitarists want new things given to them at every lesson. It’s fun, interesting, and can make you feel like you’re progressing because you’re learning lots of new things. The problem is that this feeling of progress is often an illusion. Understanding a lot of new things on an intellectual level does definitely not mean that your actual playing is progressing. The reason, as I mentioned earlier, is that no deep learning is taking place.
It Takes Time Away From Other Important Learning Activities
There is a great deal of learning that can take place that doesn’t need new information. For Example: Sometimes I will spend a whole entire lesson taking a student through a guided practice session. I will watch them practice and make suggestions and corrections as they practice. As a result of the practice session, they will gain a better understanding of how they should be practicing at home. And by improving their ability to practice in a way that gets results, their progress will speed up.
A Few Last Thoughts
I hope this article has given you some food for thought. If you are one of those guitarists who insists on getting new information at every single lesson, then I urge you to rethink your strategy. You are paying good money for lessons—it would be a shame to get minimal benefit from them! 🙂
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