The excuses guitar students make and what to do about them.

If you ask a student why they didn’t practice they will give you 101 excuses but it basically boils down to a simple matter of priorities. No matter what excuse a student gives you I will bet that it is somehow based around them not wanting to practice. Practice to them is just not a high enough priority in their life. Think about it. If you are hungry food becomes your number one priority. If you need to pay the rent finding a job or earning money becomes your first priority. You get sick so your highest priority is your health. Our lives are ruled by priorities. If your students are not practicing and making excuses what they are really saying is guitar practice is not a high priority. So how do you change it?

Guitar practice must become a high priority

Your students will make guitar practice a high priority if you do. This might seem like an over simplification but stay with me. You need to show your students that their practice is what matters to you most. Most teachers focus on progress applauding their students when they are able to play a song or an exercise. This is a mistake because students feel they have no control over their progress. Progress is a consequence of practice. Sometimes progress will be fast and sometimes slow. Practice on the other hand is completely under their control. They decide whether to practice or not. When you focus on applauding their practice rather than their progress you will get a very different result.

How do I make guitar practice a  priority

The first step is to ask them to keep a daily practice log. Now when your students turn up to their guitar lessons you should always begin by checking their practice log and praising their efforts no matter how small. You should then talk about the days they did not practice and work together on solutions. Ask them why they were unable to practice but do not look disappointed or make them feel guilty. Your aim is to help them find a positive solution. Remember that this is a shared problem because if they don’t practice you will probably lose them as a student very soon. They have come to you for help and support and that means helping them to organise their life so they practice.


When you consistently monitor and address practice making it your number one priority students will naturally do the same. If you are doing the above mentioned and still not getting a result you need to ask your student to stop lessons until they can find the time to practice. From experience this should occur in less than 5% of your students. Anymore than that my guess is you are missing something. Either you are not as consistent as you think or you are not connecting with your student and that is something we would need to discuss in person for me to help you.

David J Hart
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