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 Been drafted to teach a beginners guitar class...

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United States
789 posts
since 5/22/06

03/17/2017 13:12:38 View dustyelmer's MP3 Archive View dustyelmer's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

and I need some suggestions on what to cover! So far I've got the first position chords/chord families, basic strum patterns (boom chick-a boom) and capo basics. Beyond that I'm not really sure what to cover. I don't want to overwhelm but I also want the students (I'm expecting it to be mostly adults) to get their money's worth. The following week there's a second class where I had planned on teaching barre chords (at least the concept) and maybe a couple of scales, but again, I don't really want to frustrate or overwhelm. Any suggestions on topics would be greatly appreciated. 

TexasbanjoPlayers Union Member


United States
19171 posts since 8/3/03

03/17/2017 13:30:20 View Texasbanjo's Photo Albums View Texasbanjo's Blog Reply with Quote

How about chord sequence to a couple of songs, lyrics to the songs to pass out.  That way they can practice their basic chords and their backup/strum and sing/hum along.   Probably have to be songs that everyone would know.  Might keep them interested enough to come back for another lesson.  Just a thought.

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United States
431 posts since 8/20/16

03/18/2017 10:12:07 Reply with Quote

You touched upon a great idea. You said "I don't want to overwhelm but I want...{them} get their money's worth". I don't think you should teach them more than two chords (simple three note chords) and it should be learned in the context of a simple song. The melody and strumming two times per measure. It will be plenty to think about and practice for their first week of studying a new instrument. The second week you can expand on these chords and build them into full first position chords and teach them a more complex strumming pattern. Since you say they are adults they are probably busy and won't have more than an hour or so to study each day, and it is VERY important that they practice every day, at least in the beginning. Mary Had a Little Lamb is fine for new students - C and G7. Everyone knows it and once you show it to them it will be hard to forget. They should have it written out for reference along with chord diagrams. They should sing the melody while strumming the chords so that it won't be hard to learn to sing and play at the same time - it will be a pain in the rear to learn it later. Don't go too fast, I know it will be tempting to show them more especially if it looks like they are understanding the lesson as you are showing it to them, but, trust me, they will forget unless they have bite sized lessons to digest. That's my opinion, but I could be wrong.

Edited by - MikeSaysMoo on 03/18/2017 10:14:46

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John GribblePlayers Union Member

3985 posts since 5/14/07

03/18/2017 17:34:14 View John Gribble's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

I agree with Sherry and Mike. Give them techniques they can use to make music that day. Over the years of teaching adult students, I worked out an approach to teaching accompaniment/backup chords. I wrote a little book which gives the approach. You can download it for free at

Have fun with it! 

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United States
789 posts since 5/22/06

03/20/2017 09:44:56View dustyelmer's MP3 Archive View dustyelmer's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Thanks everyone, got some great ideas from you all.

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Winged Words

United Kingdom
549 posts since 3/22/12

03/20/2017 10:01:26 View Winged Words's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

Perhaps include a simple fingerpicking pattern at an early stage? I remember feeling like I was a real player once I could keep a pattern going over a C and G7 chord. A huge boost!

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United States
350 posts since 4/5/06

03/21/2017 11:09:04View monstertone's MP3 Archive View monstertone's Photo Albums Reply with Quote

I"m a bluegrass banjo picker, so take this with a grain of salt, but I was fortunate enough to have learned in the company of guitar players who were well versed in BG style guitar. Boom chick(a) boom chick(a) first position chords,  letting whatever open strings ring, walking through chord changes & the classic Lester Flatt "G run" to take it home. And they gotta learn that run in any key! There is a lot to be said for a good rhythm guitar player pounding out chords. One who has the power in his right hand, ala Jimmy Martin. I can spot that wrist action a mile away, & if he doesn't have it, I keep walking.     

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