It’s all about trust

Sometimes in life the opposite of what we believe is true. This happens when we attach cause and effect to a belief without actually confirming whether its true. Lets look at why students often quit lessons.

The 80/20 rule
As a teacher I believe that when teaching we should be teaching what is most important. By focusing most of our attention on what matters most we get better results and students build confidence quickly. I subscribe to the 80/20 principle if you like. That is I believe that by spending most of your practice time on skills and technique you will get a much better return on your investment in terms of practice time. When students learn songs too early they get distracted and lose focus. They are so busy trying to learn songs that the skills get neglected. They care less about the way they sit, pick, brace, fret notes etc than they do about the song they are trying to learn. This neglect creates two problems. Firstly they develop bad habits which are often irreversible and secondly they are being set up to fail. It is highly unlikely that they have the ability to really play most of the songs they like because they lack the skills. This erodes their confidence. When students know how a song is suppose to sound yet after weeks or months of trying they still can’t get it they conclude that guitar is simply too difficult.

Student pressure to learn songs
The challenge many teachers face is that they feel pressure to teach students the songs they want to learn. Teachers will claim that if they don’t teach students their favourite songs they will quickly lose interest and dropout of lessons. The reality though is very different. Teaching students their song choices is simply delaying the student’s departure because the underlying problem is not being addressed and that problem is trust. Students who trust their teachers will follow their advice. If you are my teacher and I trust you implicitly I am less likely to question you even if your suggestions are boring. My two best teachers asked me what I wanted to learn but they never taught me those songs. They taught me what they believed was best and did this by building trust.

How do you gain student trust?
Gaining trust is simply about caring and when it comes to showing you care your actions speak volumes over your words. The Practice Log for example shows you care about how much your students practice. When you make the effort to speak to parents genuinely about their child’s progress it shows you care. I don’t mean just saying how well young Emily is doing but explaining how exactly she is doing well and how Mum and Dad can help. With adults trust comes from taking time to understand why they want to learn guitar. Most importantly trust comes from giving your student what is best even if they are not happy about it. When a student realises that you are putting their education ahead of profit by risking losing them as a student they know you genuinely care. Not just about them but about teaching in general. You are demonstrating that your highest priority is student progress.

A final note

The G4 GUITAR METHOD is simply a tool to help you as a teacher. The G4GM itself is not the be all and end all of guitar learning. It simply represents the way I see the order of priority (Daily Practice sheet), time tracking (Practice Log) and specific goals (Checklists). What matters is that your students trust you to teach them what matters most. The G4GM is a selling point but your ultimate selling point will be your actions as described above.

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