Why guitar teachers lose students
Growing up in Sydney, I was passionate about rock music and my guitar heroes like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Queen, Toto, and more. I wanted to play like them but struggled with self-teaching. However, after finding a guitar teacher, I made significant progress in just six months. With newfound confidence, I started playing professionally. The main lesson I learned is that with proper guidance, learning guitar doesn't have to take years.
I believe that in order to prevent beginner guitar students from giving up within their first six months, it's crucial to provide them with a clear pathway from beginner to intermediate. Having been a guitar teacher myself, I understand the frustration of watching students quit due to a lack of progress. This led me to search for a solution, which is when I discovered the 80/20 rule. I found that by prioritizing the most essential skills, such as the chords used in the majority of songs (I, IV, V & VI), students can start playing songs sooner and make faster progress. By dedicating 80% of practice time to essential skills, students are more likely to progress quickly and remain committed to learning. It's important to focus on what matters most to keep students engaged and motivated.
Focus on what that matters most
In my experience, I found that the biggest challenge for new students is the time it takes to learn. This was reflected in my high dropout rates of around 90% within the first year during my first decade of teaching. I found the primary reason people quit guitar in the first 6 months was that they simply felt their progress was too slow. This led me to researching what was needed to give students a real sense of progress especially in the first 6 to 12 months. It was by observing other more teachers that I came to understand what I was missing. It turned out that students just needed clear, actionable steps to follow in order to see progress and stay motivated. By providing clear and easy-to-follow instructions, and focusing on the essential skills that get students playing songs sooner, I was able to help students progress faster and build confidence. The concept itself is simple but creating the steps took years of research and development.
Apply the 80/20 rule
Focus on the essential skills.
Follow a structure plan
The power of a structure
It seems we all know of at least one great coach who has an amazing record of achievement. I have spent decades researching the best ways to learn and teach guitar. This led me to reading about great coaches and teachers in various fields such as sport, education, business and personal development. When you look at the records of some of these coaches there is no doubt they have an ability to lift their players and students to higher levels of performance. One such coach is the late great John Wooden former UCLA basketball coach. Wooden’s team won 10 NCAA national championships over a 12-year period. 7 of them in a row. Note, that no other team has won more than two championships in a row. Wooden’s team also sustained an amazing 88 game winning streak. Something that seems almost unimaginable in any sport.
The influence of a great coach
Let's be honest. Learning guitar is hard and most people who try to learn guitar quit within 12 months. The reasons they give may vary but basically they lose motivation. A good coach has the ability to plan ahead and counter this problem. John Wooden would have been very aware of this problem of motivation. In high level sports players don’t easily quit but they are still human so constantly question their ability and commitment to the their sport. It takes a special coach to keep players giving their best every week. As guitar teachers we actually asking a lot less. All we want is for students to practice a few hours a week and to keep showing up each lesson.
Focusing on results
Let's be honest. We want results. A typical guitar student is focused on being able to play songs first and foremost. They are usually very impatient and don’t want to wait years to obtain the necessary skills to play notable songs. Funnily enough its not unusual for a guitar student to quit within the first month due to frustration but, expecting serious results in those first few weeks is completely unreasonable. These unrealistic students pick up the guitar each day for a few weeks and become disappointed with their slow progress. They can’t understand why its taking so long. The problem is related to the conditions under which they are attempting to learn guitar. To explain, imagine you decided to get in shape and lose that extra belly fat. You start out doing a daily jog but on day 5 you feel a bit tired so decide to skip it. No big deal you say, its only one day. The next day you resume your jogging routine but on day 9 you again skip due to a business project you need to finish. You also missed day 10 because you were just not in the mood. By the end of week 2 you decide to put it off for a while because your work is just too busy at the moment. You tell yourself that you’ll get back on track next month when things settle down at work.
Providing the right conditions
We could assume the problem was purely a lack of motivation and commitment but we all know conditions matter. A case in point. I recently lived in Japan for 8 months. I did not drive a car because getting my license changed over was a big job. This meant riding a bicycle. Our apartment was in Kyoto and situated on a fairly steep hill. This meant every time I went out I had to ride back up the hill. I literally had no choice. I had created the right conditions for getting fit. Even on the worse days in the cold and wet when I just didn’t feel like exercising I had no choice. I had to ride up that hill. Over the 8 months I lost weight and gained noticeable leg muscle. After about 6 weeks I started purposely riding other hills in the area as I was now motivated. A good coach creates these conditions. They know that they must put you in a situation where you have no choice.
G4 Guitar Method + Teacher
Some of the benefits to the G4 Guitar Method are as follows;
- 1Designed for Beginners: Every exercise has been carefully designed and tested with the beginner student in mind.
- 280/20 Essential Skills : We have focused on the skills that will benefit you the most including chords, picking, rhythm, arpeggios, scales and more.
- 3Colour-Coded: be We use a unique system of colour coding to make everything easier to understand and learn. Our students love it!.
See what students have to say:
"It's easy to follow and our teacher..."
I started going with my son and enjoyed it that much that now I've signed up! It's easy to follow and our teacher Reuben has made it really enjoyable for us both, myself and my 8 year old look forward to our lesson each week and are loving leading to play the guitar.
- Tanya Preusker, Traralgon AU
G4 GUITAR - Traralgon VIC, Australia
"David has a genuine interest..."
David Minns is an awesome guitar instructor! Both my son Jake and I have enjoyed his classes. He takes the necessary time to insure Jake is grasping the material. David has a genuine interest in Jake's understanding as well as enjoyment of the materials! I highly recommend David - impressive!
- Jacqueline M., Lake Forest, CA
G4 GUITAR - Lake Forest, CA. United States.
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