Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Guitar teaching advice needed

Hello all you fellow pickers! I recently started teaching my two younger siblings how to play guitar. They are home schooled and are learning guitar for music class. A friend and his daughter also just bought guitars and are going to be sitting in on the class as well.

I play mostly carter style pick-strumming, but have also started doing some flat-picking as well.
(Blackberry Blossom, Jerusalem Ridge, Black Mountain Rag, etc.)

I play totally by ear, so that’s the only way I know to teach them.

The classes are once a week and approximately half an hour long.

My plan was to teach them the basic cords and get them to where they can strum along with songs.
Then teach them scales.
Then how to pick the melody and add strums, and incorporate some basic skills like alternate picking.
Then go from there based on their learning.

I am a guitar player, but I don’t feel like much of a teacher, so any advice that anyone has (besides recommend them get a membership :smile:) would be greatly appreciated.

emphasise fun and encourage experimentation.

a little basic theory never hurts

find where their interests lie


That is great! One thing I would emphasize is to make sounds the way they want. Strum soft on a simple chord, have them imitate… louder… imitate, pick out individual strings… imitate. Get their ears and hands connected. Many emphasize strum patterns. I have done that some, but I think it is almost counter productive. I have recently been more inclined to get people to try to play what they want to hear.

Be ready for folks to progress slower than you remember. It takes a fair amount of time to develop pick control or muscle memory for chord shapes.

One more thing… even a very basic ability, they can make music… you don’t have to have great technical skills to make something pleasing to the ear.


Dave and I were typing at the same time. I heartily endorse all he said.

What Dave said, The best way to learn how to teach is to learn from other great teachers. @BanjoBen is a true Master and one to study closely. He has all the right skills.

Teaching kids takes lots of patients, often they will appear uninterested. Keep the lessons short.


I agree with Mike also… Particularly about being able to make music with very basic skills

encouragement and praise will get them farther than any technical drills. at the beginning levels


Thanks for the great advice! I am teaching them because they expressed interest in learning, so hopefully they remain interested for a while at least. :grinning: Yes Dave, I’ll try to incorporate some theory, and very good point Mike about being able to make music with very basic skills. I’ll hold off on the technical drills too. :smile:


Great that you want to teach your kids to play music.! I basically have learned to play guitar ( after a 30 yer career as a drummer) to play along with my 8 year old daughter who was learning to play with her best friend who started clawhammer banjo when she was 7. Like the other folks have said, keep it short and simple. I would check out on the web as they are really big on the family music making theme. Have fun!