6 Top Tips For Keeping Childrens Guitar Lessons Fun
A guitar teacher is sometimes face with having to teach students who have difficulty concentrating during a lesson. My Guitar Lessons show you a range of helpful tips to help keep junior guitar pupils on top level, and stay focused during their guitar lesson.
1.Keep it Short
Don’t give long instructions or wordy explanations. Avoid giving ‘big bites’ of instruction to students who struggle with attention. Use the ‘small bite’ approach, by giving a small amount of instruction – using only a few sentences before having the student respond by doing something active that shows that they were listening and understanding.
You could ask the student to try out a technique or you could switch roles and have the student pretend to teach you what you just taught them. At the beginning of the ‘small bite’ instruction, let the student know exactly what they are going to have to do after they are given the ‘small bite’ (i.e. play a chord, take on the teacher role, repeat instructions, etc.).
Ensure the student has understood by asking them to repeat the instructions given and encourage them to say when they have not understood. If necessary, try giving shorter lessons – perhaps 20 minutes – or try a ‘brain break’ if the lesson is longer.
2. Avoid Confrontation
Don’t give into your urge to keep stressing to them the importance of paying attention; venting can feel good to a frustrated teacher, but it just doesn’t help. The student will ‘tune you out’ and you’ll be exactly where you started – with an inattentive student.
3. Non-Verbal Clues
Use non-verbal cues effectively to help a student to regain focus. If the student is looking out the window or is distracted by something in the room, try quietly putting your hand in the student’s line of vision and motioning towards yourself. Be sure to do this in a very calm, friendly manner. Use the student’s name, make eye contact and keep the gesture short and gentle.
In most cases, the student will redirect attention back to task without disruption of the flow of the lesson in the way that using words would do. If your student doesn’t respond to the non-verbal cue initially, you may find it effective to pause the lesson, briefly discuss the use of a silent cue, and practice giving the cue and having them respond.
4. Give Praise
Give regular and positive praise. Give brief and specific verbal praise frequently. Don’t disrupt the flow of the lesson, however, by waxing eloquently. Short, regular, positive comments such as: “Good concentration James” or “Great rhythm” will do the job. Recognising and rewarding the student’s effort will put the child on a path towards on going improvement, whereas emphasizing an expectation of perfection is likely to produce a power struggle and deteriorating behavior. They are often doing the best that they can with the abilities that they have to process feelings and information and, like all of us, they respond to encouragement.
5. Comfort Zone
Allow very young students to bring something to the lesson that makes them feel comfortable. We once taught a young boy who had a toy bear that he carried with him everywhere. His mother asked him to leave it with her when he went into his first lesson for fear that it would be a distraction, but the reverse occurred in that the student was so terribly anxious about the missing bear he refused to play anything! Eventually we retrieved the bear, and positioned it so it could ‘sit and watch’ the lesson and he completely calmed down and had a productive lesson.
6. Individual Approach
The most important thing to remember is that every student is unique; what works with one student may not work with another. Test-drive a strategy and individualize how you use it based on the student’s response. And of course, from a musical point of view, ensure that whatever you’re teaching them, at least for some of the lesson, reflects their own musical preferences – the student’s enthusiasm for the learning material is at the core of maintaining their interest and attention.