5 Facts You Need To Communicate To Your Beginner Guitar Students

Apr 15, 2023
guitar teaching tips

Boost Your Retention By Educating Your Guitar Students With These Facts

As teachers, we think that our job is to teach our students how to play the guitar.

While teaching our students is one of our roles, we’re required to do so much more.

At the end of the day, your student’s long-term success isn’t dependent on the quality of the lessons or the content you provide them with.

Rather, it is dependent on your ability to keep them motivated to keep learning long enough to eventually become good at the instrument.

For this, you need not only to be a teacher, but a coach, mentor, psychologist and friend.

In an effort to manage our student’s expectations and motivation over time, we would do well to communicate these essential guitar-playing facts to our students.


Fact 1 - Learning Guitar Is Going To Take 3-5 Years

Contrary to what most of your students come to think, learning to play the guitar is not an overnight process. 

Learning how to play guitar actually requires time, effort, and consistent practice. (can you imagine?)

Many beginners may have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they can become proficient in playing the guitar and this leads to frustration when they don't get it right away.

As a guitar teacher, it's essential to emphasise that learning the guitar is a long-term commitment that takes time, patience, and perseverance. 

I like to tell my students that if they want to play the music they hear on the radio note-for-note perfectly it's likely going to take 2-3 years of consistent work before we get to that level.

This doesn't mean that we can't play along to simplified versions of songs straight away, rather, it's unfair to expect to play along using complex chord changes after only a few lessons.

Help your students manage their expectations and you will see a boost in your retention rate.


Fact 2: A Single 30-Minute Weekly Guitar Lesson Isn’t Enough

While taking regular guitar lessons is crucial, a single 30-minute weekly lesson may not be enough to make significant progress. 

Playing the guitar requires practice, and the more you practice, the better you become. 

Where most guitar teachers go wrong is they only see the student once a week and pray that the student does their own practice at home.

Wouldn't it be much better if your students were seeing you two or even three times per week?

Yes, you need to encourage your students to practice regularly outside of their lessons to reinforce their learning and develop muscle memory, but if you can convince them to come multiple times per week you'll have a better chance of helping your students succeed.

To make practice at home easy, provide them with guitar exercises and resources to help them make the most out of their practice sessions.


Fact 3: Learning Guitar Is Like Learning Two Different Instruments

Learning to play the guitar involves two main aspects - lead guitar playing and rhythm guitar playing.

Lead Guitar playing refers to playing melodies, guitar solos and fancy techniques. it gets its name from the instrument playing the melody being seen as taking the lead.

Rhythm Guitar playing refers to playing chords to accompany oneself or other instruments.

When you learn to play the guitar you could learn one role or both roles in various orders. Many students who try to do everything all at once can easily get overwhelmed or learn a number of topics to a shallow level without ever getting good at any of them (despite putting hours of effort in.)

If you're working on both your lead playing and rhythm playing at the same time, you'll be dividing your time between two different skills (and does of techniques unique to each role) and may progress at a slower rate if you don't put in double the practice time.

It's important to communicate to your students that the more they try to work on the slower their progress may be, whereas If they narrow their focus then they will make deeper progress in a shorter amount of time.

There is no right or wrong approach, but encourage them to be patient and persistent in developing skills in whichever pathway they choose.


Fact 4 - Sustained Long-Term Motivation Is The Key To Success

Playing the guitar can be challenging at times, and it's easy for students to lose motivation along the way. 

As a guitar teacher, it's crucial to emphasise the importance of sustained long-term motivation. 

Encourage your students to set goals, track their progress, and celebrate small victories to stay motivated. 

Provide them with regular feedback and positive reinforcement to boost their confidence and keep them engaged in their learning journey.

One of my favourite sayings is "If every student who started learning guitar stuck with if for 5 years then everybody would be a great guitar player" - If you can encourage your students to stick with it long enough it's only a matter of time before they become great players.


Fact 5 - Talent Is The Reward, Not The Starting Point

Many beginners may feel discouraged if they think they lack the natural talent for playing the guitar. 

It's essential to communicate to your students that talent is not a prerequisite for learning to play the guitar. 

With consistent practice and dedication, anyone can become proficient in playing the guitar.

Encourage your students to focus on their efforts, progress, and improvement rather than comparing themselves to others. Remind them that talent is a reward that comes with hard work and perseverance.

It's also worth reminding them that no two people progress at the same rate. Two students can start learning at the same time, but there are so many factors and variables that can cause them to progress at different rates and assuming that it's 'natural talent' simply isn't true.



In conclusion, as a guitar teacher, it's crucial to communicate these 5 facts to your students in order to set realistic expectations and keep them motivated in their learning journey. 

Learning guitar takes time, consistent practice, and sustained motivation. It's important to emphasize the importance of regular practice, focusing on skills and concepts related to their goals, and trying to maintain long-term motivation. 

Remind your students that talent is not a starting point, but rather a reward that comes with hard work and perseverance.

By effectively communicating these facts to your guitar students, you can help them understand the realistic expectations of learning the guitar and keep them motivated on their musical journey. 

Encourage them to be patient with themselves, stay committed to consistent practice, and celebrate their progress along the way.



Here are some common questions that may arise among guitar students:


Q: Is it possible to learn the guitar faster than 3-5 years?

A: While some individuals may progress faster, it's important to understand that learning the guitar is a gradual process that requires consistent practice over time. It's better to set realistic expectations and focus on steady progress. As a rule of thumb, the less you focus on learning, the better you will get at the narrower spectrum of content. You can become a better rhythm guitar player in a shorter period of time than you can trying to do both lead and rhythm and multiple genres.


Q: Can I become proficient in playing the guitar with just one 30-minute lesson per week?

A: While regular lessons are essential, one 30-minute lesson per week may not be enough to make significant progress. It's important to supplement lessons with regular practice outside of the lessons to reinforce learning. If you struggle to practice frequently, ask your teacher if you can attend more than one session per week.


Q: Should I only focus on being a rhythm or a lead player rather than both?

A: The kind of guitar player you should work towards becoming should be reflective of your musical taste, the genres of music you want to play and the kind of guitarist you want to be. The more focused you are on one thing, the faster you will improve at that one thing. If you want to get better at a broader spectrum of skills you need to increase your practice time or increase the duration of time you commit to guitar.


Q: How do I stay motivated throughout the long learning process?

A: Sustained long-term motivation is key to success in learning the guitar. Set goals, track progress, celebrate small victories, and seek regular feedback from your guitar teacher to stay motivated. Remember that progress is gradual and perseverance pays off.


Q: Do I need natural talent to learn to play the guitar?

A: No, talent is not a prerequisite for learning the guitar. With consistent practice, dedication, and perseverance, anyone can become proficient in playing the guitar. Focus on your efforts, progress, and improvement rather than comparing yourself to others.


About The Author


Michael Gumley is a seasoned guitar teacher, musician, and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the industry. As the owner and head teacher at Melbourne Guitar Academy, he has helped countless aspiring guitarists achieve their musical dreams.


Michael's expertise in guitar instruction goes beyond the classroom. He is also the writer of the renowned Guitar Ninjas Curriculum, a comprehensive and innovative approach to guitar education that has gained recognition worldwide. In addition, Michael is a respected mentor for guitar teachers, coaching them through his successful 6-Figure Guitar Teacher Program, where he shares his wealth of knowledge and teaching resources to help them excel in their careers.


What truly sets Michael apart is his unwavering passion and enthusiasm for music and education. He brings an infectious energy to every lesson, inspiring and motivating his students to reach their full potential as guitarists. His mission is to raise the standard of musical education globally by empowering guitar teachers with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to provide exceptional instruction to their students.


Whether you're a beginner picking up the guitar for the first time or an experienced player looking to hone your skills, Michael Gumley's expertise, experience, and dedication to excellence make him a trusted guide on your musical journey. Join him in his mission to revolutionise guitar education and unlock your full potential as a guitarist.

Take Your Guitar Teaching To The Next Level With Guitar Ninjas!

Click The Button Below To Learn How You Can Teach Guitar Ninjas In Your Studio!

Learn More

Want More Guitar Teaching Tips & Resources?

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates along with exclusive teaching concepts, lesson content and print-outs for our mailing list subscribers only.