Teaching an instrument is a wonderful job.

It is a window into a world of knowledge that many of us would never have otherwise accessed, and it is a wonderful way of remembering our own journey, how we got to the level of playing that we are currently at.

Most of us will have experienced good teachers and less good teachers along the way. So it is no wonder that taking up the reigns as a teacher can be an intimidating prospect.

Here are some tips for being the best teacher you can be!

1. Be Aware Of Your Own Strengths & Weaknesses

Just because you are a teacher, it does not mean that you suddenly will have all of the answers, and you should not try to sell yourself as such.

Most of your job will be exploring repertoire with students, only occasionally guiding them through it, so do not feel that you need to be the authority on every piece and every technique.

Need help with encouraging your students to practice? Check out our blog post on that very topic here!

2. Allow Your Students To Be The Masters Of Their Own Destiny

This can be a tricky one, but in the interests of building the best student teacher relationship that you can, it is very important.

You must allow your students the space to choose their repertoire, choose their own goals and choose their own pace of working.

This does not mean that you should not guide them in these choices, but it does mean that you should not allow your own opinions to eclipse those of the student.

We must remember that as teachers our goal is to act as a book of knowledge, not as dictators.

Adam Levin talks about student motivation – from his tonebase course "Guitar Pedagogy & Studio Management":

3. Avoid Attaching Your Self Image To Your Student’s Progress

By and large, students benefit from the cultivation of a strong student-teacher relationship.

Students, as we know from our own experience of this position, enjoy the feeling that they must work towards a lesson, that they have somewhere to measure up their progress.

However, we also know from our own musical journey that progress is not linear, there will be up days and down days.

As a teacher, it is all important that we show students a healthy approach to learning. After all, this is the most valuable knowledge we can really impart.

Try not to let your own emotions about a student’s progress get in the way of helping them to understand this part of musical life.

You are not responsible for their progress, it really has very little to do with you.

4. Remember That How You Talk About Music Matters

As a teacher, you must remember that your students will inherently place their trust in you.

This is useful for the learning process, but it can lead to destructive thought processes when it comes to other players, competition and where your student sees themselves in the world.

Just like you wouldn’t swear in front of a child, remember that what people hear, they learn.

You have the wonderful position to influence the next generation of players, don’t waste it bad mouthing people and giving your student the impression that they will be judged in the same way.

Adam Levin discusses studio management – from his tonebase course "Guitar Pedagogy & Studio Management":


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Dave McLellan

Concert & Chamber Guitarist

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