One huge way to help your students stay motivated and keep making progress on the guitar is to make sure they always track their overall progress. There are some clear stepping stones along the path to mastery, and you should acknowledge their progress as they pass each one.
These are your student’s milestones…you want to celebrate these victories with them along the way, and they need to be aware of what they are so you can do that. When you play up their successes, you are reminding them of why they should keep studying with you…you are helping them get results!
Tracking your student’s overall progress on the guitar means being able to quickly see how far they’ve progressed, what they’ve already mastered and what concepts they need to master next. It’s kind of like how they use different colored belts in a martial arts program.
This is probably the hardest area to keep track of, just because the meaning of “progress” on the guitar totally depends on what your student’s musical goals are. For some people it means being able to play certain chords and songs. For other people it might mean being able do perform certain lead guitar techniques, at various speeds, etc. The truth is no one can really tell if your student is making progress except for you and them.
Here’s how to get started tracking overall progress on the instrument. First, start by making a list of all the things your students already know how to do well on the guitar. Whether it’s tuning the guitar, knowing the note names of the open strings, knowing all the basic open chords…whatever skills they have already mastered, write them down. Now make another list of all the things they’re currently working on…scales, modes, ear training exercises…list everything in their current practice schedule and short-term goals. Finally, list all the other skills that they’ll need to reach their long-term goals…sweep picking, tapping, jazz inversions, sight reading…list everything you can think of.
Once you have all that information written down, use this worksheet to organize everything. Start with the easiest concepts your students have learned, and then list them all in increasing order of difficulty, with the hardest stuff listed last.
When that’s done, put a check mark next to the concepts they’ve already mastered (see the sample page in the worksheet for examples). Now your students can easily see how far they’ve come, where they are now and what’s in store for them in the future on the guitar. This information is valuable for setting their future goals, and for staying encouraged and focused, with a feeling of accomplishment in their pursuit of the guitar.
What ideas do you have for recognizing and rewarding your students’ achievements on the guitar? Post a comment and tell me about it!