How Teaching Guitar to Others Can Help You Improve Your Own Skills

4511068608_cdc82dfc90_bStudents aren’t the only ones learning a lot from guitar lessons! Guitar teacher Mike J. shares the many benefits he’s seen over his many years of teaching experience…

There are many benefits to teaching guitar – you meet interesting people, form lasting friendships, and learn the virtue of patience, a little bit about human psychology, the importance of positive reinforcement, and some things about yourself. Often through students, I have heard about many recording artists who are not well known and that I have enjoyed listening to, or learning songs from.

And of course, who doesn’t enjoy being paid for doing what they love best? But perhaps one of the most valuable side benefits is that you improve your own guitar and musicianship skills through teaching others.

As a musician, it can be hard to motivate yourself to practice, unless you have a band rehearsal or a public performance coming up. But when I teach, I am always playing along with the student. If they are playing a melody, I am playing an accompaniment. No matter what we are doing, I need to be able to demonstrate the proper way of playing it, so I am playing the guitar for hours every day. That alone is of great benefit, and keeps my fingers nimble and my technique accurate. It also keeps my mind active and my music reading skills up.

Many times a student will want to play a song that I have never heard, or in a musical style that I am not totally familiar with. By learning the song with the student, I am expanding my palette of skills and accompaniment styles. I am also broadening my musical tastes. Often I have cringed at the thought of learning a particular song only to discover that the song had more intrigue than I thought.

In one afternoon I might play artists as diverse as Bach, Metallica, Peter Paul and Mary, Pat Metheny, The Beatles, OneRepublic, Van Halen, Hank Williams, and Taylor Swift. And I would not be honest if I didn’t admit that sometimes I have to practice a song in between lessons just to make sure I can play it better than my advanced students!

Sometimes when a student has to cancel at the last minute, you find yourself alone with your guitar and a half hour to kill. What a perfect opportunity to practice, with no excuse not to!

Through teaching guitar I have also discovered many fine instructional books on the market, such as books on finger-picking styles, rock guitar solos, jazz chord-melody style, bluegrass technique, theory books specifically for guitarists, and the list goes on and on.

Teaching has also led me to find programs and apps to help students learn. There is technology out there that can slow songs down and change their key, help you practice with a metronome and program it to gradually speed up, loop difficult sections for practice, and notate songs in both tab and sheet music.

So if you are sitting on a fence thinking about whether you should teach lessons on the guitar, bass or even the ukulele, there’s a good chance you’re ready to teach! You won’t only be enriching your students’ lives; you’ll be enriching your own as well.



Mike J. teaches acoustic guitar, bass guitar, blues guitar, classical guitar, as well as country guitar in Ogden, UT.  He received his Applied Music Degree from Mohawk College and has gone on to receive many certifications and awards since then.   Mike is a full time music instructor with over thirty years of experience teaching, performing, and writing music.  Learn more about Mike J. here!



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