Learning guitar today is much more advanced compared to past decades and is probably the reason why we are seeing so many amazing players. The standard of the average student after only a few years of learning is about equal to that of a professional session player in the 1960’s. When I first began teaching guitar over 30 years ago I was inspired by my own guitar teachers. I was passionate about music, guitar and learning in general. I would literally spend hours everyday listening to my favourite records. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, AC/DC, The Beatles and so on. My approach to teaching in the beginning was really nothing more than passing on my own knowledge to my students. There was no apparent method to my teaching (madness). As a result I became quite good at improvising. I was literally making up my lessons as I went a long. This style of teaching is quite common especially among guitar teachers. I am in no way suggesting that this style of teaching is not effective because it because it does work for some teachers but I just believe after years of teaching that a method is an invaluable tool that ensures both teacher and student have a clear goal and road map to reach that goal.
Music learning technology
The word technology literally means the application of science for practical purposes. A method of any kind therefore is a form of technology. The advancement of technology usually begins with a problem. The problem I faced when teaching guitar in my early years was one of efficiency. I found I was spending a lot of time in lessons writing out notes for each student but I noticed I was constantly writing the same things again and again. This led me to initially developing standard print outs but later to the creation of a method. This allowed me to systemised and standardise much of my lessons therefore saving valuable time. I was then able to pass on this time saving to my students in the form of higher quality lessons. When it comes down to it a larger portion of technology is about saving time and improving efficiency. But this was only the beginning.
Methods are measurable
As time went by I discovered that using a method produced better more consistent results from my students. In addition I now had a measuring stick which I could use to measure and monitor the progress of all my students. My teaching had become more scientific because I was able to measure and compare certain groups of students under specific circumstances. This made teaching extremely exciting because it was no longer based purely on guesswork but actually facts. For example when I set levels I was able to see how long it took the average person of a particular age to complete the level. I was also able to measure amounts of practice with progress. This was a major breakthrough because the number one question students ask is “How long will it take to learn guitar?” This question up until this point seemed impossible to answer but now I was able to give students a reasonable answer based on how much time they spent doing the exercises detailed in the method. For example to finish the G4 GUITAR Senior level one takes around six months for a beginner who practices for at least 30 minutes each day. Now of course some students will finish it quicker and others will take a little longer even if they practice the same amount each day because the quality of practice will vary plus some people have previous musical experience or some natural ability. In general the prediction is quite accurate.
Clear definable goal
Using a method teaches you the value and power of goal setting. This came as an added bonus when I started implementing the G4 Guitar Method. I soon realised that students who completed the first level tended to have the confidence to go on to the higher levels with ease. The reason is learning anything begins with confidence. It’s reasonable to assume that anyone who decides to take up guitar is confident they can succeed. The problem is that when people lose confidence in their ability they soon quit. A method allows the student to follow a tested structure that in most cases maintains confidence by giving them the right challenges at the right time.
A successful guitar method builds confidence
To conclude a successful method offers more than just practical exercises and a step-by-step approach to learning. A successful method gives students a path to success therefore giving them the confidence essential to achieving ultimate success on the guitar. If you are not confident about succeeding on guitar then you need to reassess the method and perhaps the teacher you are currently using because without confidence it will probably never happen.
David Hart – Program Director