Student Centered Teaching – Guitar

Over the past 20 years I’ve been teaching guitar. I’m a licensed public school teacher, and I’ve found that the traditional methods weren’t enough. I’ve adopted six tenets to make my guitar instruction more effective. I’ve also posted these tenets on my website

First, students need autonomy. Students should be learning exactly what they want to learn with the instructor guiding the process and teaching proper technique to make sure the student avoids injury.

Second, students learn better in community. I work to create communities of practice for students to share and test what they’re learning.

Third, creativity is essential! Students create music, write songs, and are encouraged to find their own rhythm. Studies have shown that creative ability is a stronger indicator of future success than IQ.

Fourth, students should play, not practice. The word “practice” sometimes has a negative connotation attached to it. We are, in most cases, learning guitar for personal enrichment, not to become professional guitarists – if it’s not fun, then we should try something else. Music shouldn’t be another chore that our overburdened kids are saddled with. And the students I’ve had who went on to become professional guitarists love to play!

Fifth, keeping the goal in view, we need to recognize all the successes that lead to it. We need to understand that even though we haven’t reached the main goal, we have made progress that we can be proud of.

Last, it’s important to be able to use everything you learn to enrich your life. Most teachers just focus on technique alone. I work hard to help each student gain confidence, learn more about themselves, and acquire skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives. On top of that, the simple act of learning music has been shown to help people socially, academically, and psychologically.

Following these tenets, I work to teach each student exactly what they want and need to grow as a musician, an artist, and as a person.

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