Why guitar teachers should use checklists
For many years I would teach students by simply asking them what songs they wanted to play. I am not alone in this respect. More than 90% of all guitar teachers teach in this way. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking students what they want to be able to play but many of the teachers who ask this question spend much of their lessons writing songs out in notation or tab. Students quickly work out that they are paying a teacher for something they can find for free on Youtube or on a website.
What students really want from a teacher
Our students do want to learn their favourite songs but with the Internet they don’t need a teacher for this reason. What students want is a system that will help them to develop the necessary skills to learn and play their songs of choice. Once I realised this fact I stopped losing students. I also came to realise that there were certain skills that were essential to all guitarists. I listed these essential skills and created checklists to ensure I did not miss something which is easy to do when you have many students whom you see one once a week.
Checklists keep us all in the picture
I originally developed the checklists after learning that pilots used checklists before, during and after every flight to avoid potential disaster. Checklists simply made perfect sense and I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t thought of it earlier. After all students were on a journey so I needed to ensure they arrived at the destination. A checklist gives the teacher, the student and in the case of children parents a clear idea of the goal. I could say to a student “Here is what you will learning so lets get started” and it eliminated the question of what to practiced. Now students knew the goal and once explained I could focus on their technique. It was a huge time saver.
Checklists add value to your lessons
Teachers who use checklists know how powerful they are. Students become empowered because they feel they are in control. When I first started learning guitar I was completely mystified not knowing where I was going (no clear goals) and whether or not I was actually getting any better. Students can see as the boxes get ticked they are getting closer to the goal. When they complete one checklist they move on to the next. This helps build student confidence in themselves but also in you as a teacher. They can clearly see how far they have come under your guidance and as a result value your lessons.
David J Hart
The business of teaching guitar
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