Do you want to have the most enthusiastic guitar students around, new students constantly knocking at your door and the envy of all other local guitar teachers? Before you can do all this you need to learn how to transform all your average students into incredible musicians. To do this, you must do much more than teach them guitar techniques – you need to make them into creative musicians. THIS is the true way to earn a great living as a guitar teacher.

Fortunately, teaching your students to be creative is not as difficult as you might expect. Plus, nearly all of your competitors have no idea how to teach creativity (if they even ever thought to do it). So, whenever you learn how to effectively teach guitar (including teaching creativity), you’ll put yourself miles ahead of every other instructor in your town.

These are the five fundamental things you need to do in order to effectively teach creativity to your students:

Help Your Guitar Students Remove Their Self-Limiting Beliefs

Before begin "instructing" your guitar students on ANYTHING related to becoming more musically creative, understand that the overwhelming majority of your students face two basic problems:

1. Many of your students automatically assume that you can’t “learn” creativity. This is entirely mistaken. (I've proven this wrong while teaching my own guitar students AND other guitar instructors who I train have proven this wrong with THEIR students as well).

2. They lack confidence with their capacity to be creative and think they lack natural talent in this area. Truth is, everyone has the potential to be creative – no matter what “natural” talent they possess or don’t possess.

Reality is, your students will frequently struggle with being musically creative by believing in these myths. It’s your job as a teacher to eliminate these destructive, self-defeating beliefs from your students’ mindset and replace them with beliefs that will lead them toward achieving their musical goals and gaining confidence in their abilities. If you don’t do this, your students’ will be unable to become creative due to an innate lack of trust in their own potential (causing them to always sabotage themselves whenever they seem to be making progress).

There are two basic tactics you should utilize to transform your students’ mindset on these topics . The first approach is making clear to your students that musical creativity is NOT a mystical, made up skill that only a few musicians are somehow born possessing. Truth is, musical creativity is a culmination of many things. It’s consequence of having attained many musical skills and integrated them together. Simply making this distinction will quickly help your students understand why the thinking above is BS and will motivate them to work hard to reach their potential.

The next approach involves not merely “telling”, but truly demonstrating to your students how simple it is to become creative. To do this, you must:

Use A “Teach” Less - “Train” More Approach

The biggest mistake that so many guitar teachers make (specifically, those who never learned how to teach guitar very effectively) is “teaching too many things”. This develops out of a false assumption that you must always teach new things in order to be a good guitar teacher. This assumption will lead you to overwhelm your students with new guitar practice exercises every time they see you. If you do this, the following will happen:

1. Your students will experience intense “overwhelm” (making them a lot more likely to stop taking guitar lessons with you) from learning way too many things than they can actually use in real music. You’ve probably heard this before: “You’ve given me so much information, I think I need to take a break for a while to catch up.” Yeah... now you know why this happens.

2. Your students don’t really understand how to use most of the things you show them (much less learn how to be creative with them). Although in the moment it feels good to teach new things during each lesson, however, this will leave your students totally powerless to actually use what they learn in any kind of creative manner. Whenever your students feel like they are total beginners in one area of their playing even though they haven’t been true beginners in a long time, you lose status as a good guitar teacher in their eyes, and they lose motivation to get better.

3. As their guitar teacher, you end up working way too many extra hours preparing new lesson ideas for your students.

In the end, everyone loses when you use this approach, and guess what…close to 100% of ALL guitar teachers use this approach as their primary method for teaching students (this is why so many guitar students quit lessons after only a month or two and why most guitar teachers have no truly great students).

There’s a solution to this problem that is so obvious that you’ll wonder why you never thought of it...and it is also sure to transform your students into highly creative guitar players. You merely need to stop teaching so much “new information” and start investing more time into training them to implement what you’ve already shown them. Don’t think that your students will understand how to creatively use the concepts you teach them in lessons while playing at home – since the majority of them won't. Instead, these students will merely join the masses of people who “know a lot of things” but don’t know how to use them in any musically significant way. It’s a part of your job as their guitar teacher to keep “teaching” after you’ve shown them something new. You need to show them how to apply what they learn in a variety of musical situations. Do this for as long as needed (even if you have to invest one or more lessons into this).

I bet you are thinking this: “Tom, I don’t want to cheat my students out of learning new things... after all, that is why they are here.” NO! They are not taking lessons with you to learn new things – they are taking lessons with you ONLY to get RESULTS. Your job as their guitar teacher is to get them whatever results they need to arrive at their musical goals. You only “cheat” them out of their money by not getting them the results they deserve.

“Training” is one of the most necessary aspects of effectively teaching guitar and is NOT restricted to only teaching creativity. To see how much you know about teaching guitar, take this guitar teaching assessment.

Bridge The Gap Between Implementation And The Achievement Of Mastery

Your students will benefit greatly from learning how to apply their skills…BUT this alone is not enough to achieve a high level of creativity. Simple: your students are only able to really be creative using a certain skill once they can both use that skill on it's own, AND know how to use it together with all of their other skills. All highly advanced guitarists already understand and do this, but only the greatest teachers know the critical importance of helping their students integrate their skills together…and even less really do this.

One simple way to get your students to integrate their skills is to have them write a very basic song after learning fundamental chords, barre chords, etc. Rather than “teaching” these things to them and instantly moving to more advanced seventh chords or music theory ideas, STAY on this topic for several lessons and get your students to practice being creative by integrating what they know together in order to make music that (under your direction). This will make it easier for them to remember the ideas, and get them started with being creative whenever you show them something new.

When you begin teaching your guitar students how to integrate their skills together, you will be surprised at how quickly your students will start improving and becoming more creative guitarists. Plus, you’ll notice yourself enjoying the process of teaching your guitar students: both because it is fun to see your students grow and because you won’t have to create so many lesson materials every week.

Begin Small…And Display Proof

When you first work with your students on various aspects of creative guitar playing... get ready to start small. Know that your students will still be very unsure about their ability to be creative. For this reason, you have to:

1. Give them easy assignments that will help them feel confident regarding their ability to implement ideas creatively.

2. Take care that they feel good about the process you're taking them through . When they notice the growth and musical freedom you are helping them obtain, they'll feel motivated to keep learning.

This tactic is particularly important if you've got students who think that guitar lessons must be focused on learning “new” things at all times. These types of students may (at first) be reluctant to use their lesson time for integrating their skills. Therefore you need to present this shift in your teaching very subtly and help your students see how they are transforming with their own eyes.

For instance, among the most basic (and most efficient) things you can do while teaching lead guitar soloing creativity, is make your students create several variations of a short guitar riff. Once you've taught your students how to identify and use many subtle guitar phrasing approaches (for example different types of vibrato, bends, pre-bends, legato, string rakes, double stops, etc.) have them make twenty variations from a three or five note guitar lick. As simple as this might sound, it's highly enjoyable and forces students to think beyond “which” notes to play and concentrating on “HOW to use these notes in a creative manner”.

Stop Using Outdated And Ineffective Guitar Teaching Methods

In my previous guitar instruction articles I’ve explained why teaching guitar using ONLY a 1 on 1 private format will slow down both your students’ growth and your ability to make good money teaching guitar. (Find out why this is true by watching this video about guitar teaching). Additionally, 1 on 1 guitar instruction is very limiting when it comes to teaching creativity. Why? Because no matter how good you are as an instructor, your guitar students will only be able to learn from you. The truth is, your students will become more creative much faster and easier by learning with others. Simply being around others not only makes learning more fun, but it also gives your students the ability to learn from one another and feel motivated by each other’s progress.

Does this go against most conventional guitar teaching wisdom? For sure. But as you know now, most traditional guitar teaching ideas are highly ineffective. When you understand the best way to effectively teach guitar, while integrating good teaching skills with good guitar lesson formats, your students are going to rapidly develop into great players... and YOU will become the leading guitar teacher in your local area.

To get training so you can build a massively successful guitar teaching business, check out this page about effective guitar teacher training.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:
Tom Hess is a guitar teacher, composer and a touring musician. He trains guitar teachers to be successful in his guitar teaching program. Go to to get more guitar teacher resources and read more guitar teaching articles.