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  1. #1

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    I assume most of you who teach probably take on mainly students wanting to play pop or rock oriented stuff. I enjoy a good deal of classic and especially progressive rock along with jazz. But I guess my question is: how do you approach stuff you really don't play? I've always liked the idea of a teacher being more about music, musicianship, theory and knowing the instrument rather than transcribing tunes for students. How do you guys teach? Based on tunes the student wants to learn even if you're not familiar with the style? Or based on learning the instrument and musicianship? It seems I've seen a bit of both approaches.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I used to teach.

    I think you teach them the instrument, a little bit of theory, and get some great books. There are many today.

    But that only gets you so far of course. So, what's not in books they have to transcribe, unless they want to pay me to transcribe. Or maybe we could do it together in their lessons, a little at a time. But transcribing songs is not a free service unless I think I can leverage it for other students as well.

    I would teach them how to transcribe - it's easier today with the tools.

  4. #3

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    Thanks for the ideas! I have spent 20 years painstakingly learning things by ear and can (usually) easily identify the chords in a given tune. So the basic structure of a song, no issue. Stylistic solos outside of my comfort zone are far more difficult to pull off for me and would certainly take time to learn and teach. I think I work in a very gray area musically heavily influenced by playing piano for years so saying I'm a "rock"or "jazz" specialist would be hard to do. But I feel like I have a knowledge of the guitar's capabilities that surpasses the average local guitar teacher. Therein lies the problem.

    by the way, I like the idea of charging for transcribing. It's a generally unpleasant task for me but one I feel is essential and once you get it, you get it. I'd rather teach how than spend my extra time doing it as part of the lessons.

  5. #4

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    I've taught quite a bit but don't do it now. Personally, I only had about one lesson from someone else in my life. He taught me the augmented scale, which was interesting.

    When the students were older people who could already play, I always told them 'I can teach but can you learn?'. Because it was much harder to teach those who were already set in their knowledge and their little ways of doing things. They were settled there, found it easy and natural to them, and didn't really want to do anything much different. They thought they did but didn't really. They just played around with it for a bit and then dropped it.

    With younger people, as you say, they just wanted to play like some hero or play their favorite songs, and all that. I think I only had one bloke, mid-twenties, already in a band, who did everything I showed him, invited me to his gig, and played all those new jazzy sounds with a big smile. But he was exceptional, in my view.

    So even the best teachers need decent material to produce something worthwhile. Trouble is, it only becomes apparent after you've started.

    As for styles, I would never try to teach a style I didn't understand and couldn't play adequately well. What's the point? Even the worst student will see through you. That's really a self-defeating exercise.

    A good teacher is unselfish, adapts their lessons to the student, doesn't try to force anything beyond their understanding on them, leads them on gently, and is honest about it if the student isn't really going to make it.

    But there are also bad teachers, and how. Let's not overlook that. They might be able to play but can't communicate it. They might not be organised enough to present stuff logically and coherently. They might present fairly straightforward things in a way that strings them out so they can get your attention, if not your money, for longer. They might present themselves as being far more accomplished than they really are, hoping the student won't know the difference. And so on.

    A really good teacher is rare, maybe very rare, and that should be honestly understood. And the earnest learner is truly blessed if they find one.

  6. #5

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    I played many different styles.

  7. #6

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    By the way, transcribing stuff for students is not teaching them. Transcribing comes much, much later and is difficult and time-consuming. You don't need to transcribe anything, with all the effort that involves, just to teach certain principles.

    If the student asked the teacher to do transcribing for him, presumably he wouldn't really understand what's involved so that would have to be explained. Also, it's not actually that kind of relationship. The exception is, possibly, if it was something extremely quick and easy for the teacher to do.

    Even then I'd personally find it irritating. You're there to teach them, not do them favors!

  8. #7

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    I appreciate the responses. I think I'm getting the answers I needed to keep moving forward with teaching. I guess I questioned myself for a moment when I came under the impression that teaching guitar meant mostly teaching songs. I intend to teach the instrument. Sure, I have an ever growing repertoire of material to use as examples, but I'll keep on my path to approach teaching as a means to an end.

  9. #8

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    If you teach beginners, you gotta keep up on shit, plain and simple.

    Its not glamorous.

  10. #9

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    Thanks for the replies. I will continue forward with my plans to teach from the perspective of teaching the guitar and musicianship. For a moment I was concerned that teaching had somehow become all about teaching songs. Sure, I have and will continue to build a repertoire to use as examples of things, but it will be music I am familiar with and enjoy.

  11. #10

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    Find good learning resources; get good at using them. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel?

  12. #11

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    Also; I strongly feel moving forward is sometimes more important than achieving perfection at every stage. I really like backing tracks for this. Music is a temporal art.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcharles
    Thanks for the replies. I will continue forward with my plans to teach from the perspective of teaching the guitar and musicianship. For a moment I was concerned that teaching had somehow become all about teaching songs. Sure, I have and will continue to build a repertoire to use as examples of things, but it will be music I am familiar with and enjoy.
    Weirdly, a lot of students don’t seem that interested in learning songs. But if they are, I work it out by ear in front of them, telling them what I am doing while I do it.

  14. #13

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    dcharles -

    I'm afraid you may not like this post because it's a bit damning. Feel free to put me right if I've got my facts wrong.

    songs
    I'd like to know what you mean by songs. Singing and strumming along? Or singing with a fingerstyle backing?

    Most jazz standards, played as instrumentals, were originally songs, usually from shows and films. So by songs do you mean tunes?

    It worries me that you seem so inconcise about all this, especially as you intend to teach. Teaching implies you know something about the subject and it's very unclear about what you do know and mean.

    Your first question was:

    I guess my question is: how do you approach stuff you really don't play?
    Well, the simple answer to that is you don't because you can't. You certainly don't presume to teach it to others for money.

    Then you say:

    I've always liked the idea of a teacher being more about music, musicianship, theory and knowing the instrument rather than transcribing tunes for students.
    What do you mean 'more about music'? We're talking about music.

    What do you mean by 'knowing the instrument'? Knowing the instrument is knowing how to play it, not in theory but actually in fact.

    You're lumping things together that don't appear, as you describe them, to be related to playing. They seem to be more abstract or intellectual, in terms of knowledge. I also don't know why you compare all that with transcribing things for students. Transcribing for them isn't teaching, as we've already said.

    I have spent 20 years painstakingly learning things by ear and can (usually) easily identify the chords in a given tune. So the basic structure of a song, no issue. Stylistic solos outside of my comfort zone are far more difficult to pull off for me and would certainly take time to learn and teach
    20 years by ear? Do you read music notation? You can't solo? And you're talking about teaching all this?

    I intend to teach the instrument.
    Then you must know quite a lot about the instrument. Not only factual knowledge but demonstrable practically. Do you have that beyond your ear? Will you tell a student 'Do it all by ear like me'? Good lord.

    will continue to build a repertoire to use as examples of things, but it will be music I am familiar with and enjoy.
    But if you're a teacher it's not about you, it's about the student and what they want to learn. You have to meet their demand, especially if you're paid to do it.

    Say you want to learn French and the teacher says 'I can only pronounce it by ear and I only use words I like'. Huh?

    You're fulsome in your thanks here for peoples' input but I don't see any real clarity of knowledge, ability or purpose. Sorry to pour water on your ideas, etc, but that's the way I see it and the way it appears to be.

    Unless you just want to share some stuff with other folks for fun, of course. But I wouldn't charge for it, it wouldn't be fair.

  15. #14

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    Christian answered my question, that is the approach I will take.

    And for goodness sake, all I'm asking about is teaching guitar lessons, this is not a life or death situation ?

    But again, thanks for taking the time to reply. My thoughts can get ahead of my typing at times so what I am trying to ask and what you are seeing may be two different things.

  16. #15

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    I wish it were so simple. As Mr. Beaumont (who teaches for a living) has pointed out, it's not glamorous. Of course it's not life or death but, if people are going to pay you to instruct them, you have to deliver.

    You haven't answered any of the questions. Who are you going to teach? What ages? What do you mean by songs? Are we talking just showing people to strum? Or accompany singing more fluently? Or is it about playing tunes and making music?

    I think you've got a vague idea about teaching. If I'm not seeing what you're asking it's because it's far from clear. We all speak English.

    But if you consider Christian has answered you sufficiently then I suppose that's that. I can only say good luck :-)

  17. #16

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    Ideal situation? Adult beginners or intermediate players. Yes, teaching accompaniment, right and left hand technique. The CAGED system from the ground up. Understanding how to use the instrument for whatever it is the student aspires to play. Reading music if they want to learn that. Music theory (I studied music for 3 years in college intending to go into music education but decided to switch majors for economic reasons), guitar styles in various contexts. How theory applies to the fingerboard. Ear training. And yes, songs that demonstrate these ideas to the student. I guess what I'm saying is that I feel more than equipped to teach, especially hearing of some local teachers who can barely read music.

  18. #17

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    Ah! Thanks, you didn't say all that. So - I take it we're talking about accompaniment to their singing, or someone else's singing. You could also extend that to another instrument playing a melody, of course.

    Sounds good. Some theory, of course, is necessary although theory, technically, is a subject to itself somewhat. But using songs to demonstrate playing ideas is a good thing. Jazz is nearly always taught with reference to known tunes.

    Were you going to teach jazz or, say, rock and pop? Same notes, inevitably, but quite a different style.

  19. #18

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    Let me boils down the original question: all I wanted to know is if teaching was just learning songs people want to learn and teaching them.

    As as I see, that's not the case, at least in most cases.

    therefore, my approach to teach the guitar as mentioned above is on point, as I see it.

  20. #19

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    That's a good question. I sort of straddle the line between rock/pop and jazz. I split my time quite equally between the two, at least in the practice room.

    I think this is where the root of my question came from, subconsciously. I have an overarching approach that's neither here nor there in some ways.

  21. #20

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    I've got it. Songs, I think, these days with the internet, are easily found online. They can get the lyrics, melody, and, in many cases, the chords too. There are sites for that, not always reliable. Whether they can play the chords properly is another matter, of course.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcharles
    Let me boils down the original question: all I wanted to know is if teaching was just learning songs people want to learn and teaching them.

    As as I see, that's not the case, at least in most cases.

    therefore, my approach to teach the guitar as mentioned above is on point, as I see it.
    Looking at it formally for just a moment, serious musicians work on:

    1. technique
    2. repertoire (i.e. songs)
    3. reading
    4. solo recitals
    5. ensemble work
    6. improv (optional)

    So yes, you need to teach them songs. The question is, how? When I study classical I am reading books. My teacher did not write them, although they probably played them at one time or another.

    So, can a teacher do that with casual/popular styles, or must they learn every song up to performance level then teach it to the student with the "nothing written, place your fingers here, do it like this man" approach?

    Just say "no". There are tons of books out there now, even of rock songs and guitar solos. It's not the 1960s.

    You are the guide, the tutor. The student does the work. And it's not a concert or recital for the teacher either. The student is the one with the playing assignments. You can demo things here and there, and you can play duets or comp, but it is they who are there to perform, not you.
    Last edited by Donplaysguitar; 06-29-2021 at 12:33 PM.

  23. #22

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    I haven't taught much in recent years, but I did recently get hired by a private school to assist the band teacher. He had six guitarists, at varying levels, and wanted them to learn enough to play the charts. These were 15 and 16 year olds.

    What ended up happening surprised me. They were all bothered by the fact that all the other kids could read music and they couldn't. They reached a consensus that I would teach them to read. That's what we did. Started with identifying the notes on the staff and finding them in first position. Then went to Rhythms Complete by Colin and Bower. We were just starting that when the semester ended.

    If they had wanted to learn to shred I'd have told them that I couldn't teach it because I don't know how to do it.

    All you can do is offer to teach what you know.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 07-11-2021 at 03:27 AM.

  24. #23

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    I honestly think you just have to do it. It’s one thing to theorise it’s another thing to have to do it.

    a few things I’ve learned
    - Be reflective; reflect on what works and what doesn’t. Failing is acceptable; failing to learn from failure is true incompetence.
    - Don’t blame students for your failings.
    - the syllabus is not the teaching
    - learn to ask good questions of the student; don’t talk at them.
    - don’t try to fool the student into thinking you know everything
    - learn when to be a perfectionist and when not to be
    - don’t simply tell the student off for not practicing. Your job is to teach them how.
    - don’t be their friend, but learn when to be firm and when to be friendly
    - teaching is NOT about you

    A very good book is Paul Harris, the Virtuoso Tecaher.

  25. #24

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    Tunes I’ve recently taught my non jazz/non classical students
    - Hammer to Fall
    - Back in Black
    - Rock’n’Roll Train
    - Here comes the sun
    - Yesterday
    - Voodoo Chile (slight return)
    - Crosstown Traffic
    - Purple Haze
    - I See Fire (Ed Sheeran) - SOLID guitar tune
    - Castle on the Hill (Sheeran) - another good guitar tune
    - Fast Car
    - Do I Wanna Know? (Arctic Monkeys)
    - Seven Nation Army (cool if you aim to get it right)
    - Better Half of Me (Tom Walker)
    - All of Me (John Legend)
    - Wonder wall (natch), Don’t Look Back in Anger
    - All the Young Dudes (Mott the Hoople)
    etc etc
    - Taylor Swift. Quite a lot of this
    - Cissy Strut
    - Helterskelter
    - Everybody Hurts (REM)
    - High and Dry (Radiohead)

    I don’t generally teach as much Zeppelin as I would like lol. But gives you a feel along with djg, most of his list I’ve taught as well.

    Quite a lot of these were suggestions from the floor, and not the ones you would think necessarily. Think of it as cultural exchange haha. Some
    i think are good tunes, some not so much. Ed Sheeran has a lot of value.

    Its good be an advocate for guitar music.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcharles
    I assume most of you who teach probably take on mainly students wanting to play pop or rock oriented stuff. I enjoy a good deal of classic and especially progressive rock along with jazz. But I guess my question is: how do you approach stuff you really don't play? I've always liked the idea of a teacher being more about music, musicianship, theory and knowing the instrument rather than transcribing tunes for students. How do you guys teach? Based on tunes the student wants to learn even if you're not familiar with the style? Or based on learning the instrument and musicianship? It seems I've seen a bit of both approaches.
    This is precisely why I don't teach anymore. At one point I probably had close to 20/wk. While I enjoyed the friendly time with the students, I liked to focus on what you mentioned above. Learning the instrument, understanding what you're doing, etc. While some serious students were very interested in that, most just wanted to "play that song by Journey," etc. Not only was I not into that (and it took too much time of my own), after years I started thinking I am a bad teacher. And I still do. Just the other day another member of my big band asked if I would take on a student, and I just said "I'm really not a good teacher."
    Last edited by Woody Sound; 07-12-2021 at 12:53 PM.