3 Things I Learned From Teaching Guitar

March 29, 2012

When we’re learning something new, it’s usually a process and things don’t always jive right away. I’ve noticed over my years of teaching guitar that students can get discouraged pretty quickly, especially the beginners.

I’ve been able to tweak my teaching technique and try different ways of encouraging my students to see what they respond to the best and to see what generates the best results as well.

Here are 3 things I learned about encouragement from teaching guitar:

1. People tend to focus on the negative. After finishing a piece, many times the student will point out what they did wrong. This is especially true with my adult students. I think as we get older, we tend to lose the carefree, optimistic outlook that kids have.

2. I use the sandwich technique when critiquing. Let’s face it. My students would never get any better if I just patted them on the back 100% of the time. So, I first genuinely point out something that was done well, then make suggestions for improvement, followed by another genuine compliment.

3. Everyone can use encouragement. I think Truett Cathy said it best when talking with a colleague. He asked, “How do you tell if a person needs encouragement?” His colleague replied, “I don’t know. How?” Truett Cathy responded, “Check if they’re breathing. If they’re breathing, they need encouragement.”

I’ve been able to apply these principles in my other areas of life and they hold true there just as well.

Question: Have you tried anything new recently? Was anyone there to encourage you?

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Ann J Musico March 30, 2012 at 7:21 am

    I love the sandwich method. I have always been one of those people who just hate to do anything I’m not good at – so that limits you A LOT! Thankfully, my children taught me that this is ridiculous just by watching them try things, improve and grow. Don’t really know where my fear of not doing things perfectly began but no one is good at everything or at things they try for the first time. Your methods are great, Michael!

    • Reply Michael Good March 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks, Ann! Yeah, so much you can learn from kids. They will often pick things up so fast, it’s quite amazing. But you know, I think we as adults pick things up faster than it feels sometimes.

  • Reply Michael Wright March 30, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Looks like you got a motley crew there, Michael! I bet you really enjoy what you do. I like the girl in the middle back doing the rabbit ears behind the girls head. Is she your class troublemaker? LOL

    You’re reading Dale Carnegie now, I believe, and he mentions when giving constructive criticism to always begin with Praise. However, I don’t know if he finished the sandwich! Great job there.

    I like to try new things, but find I can tend to fizzle out if it’s too “hard” often. Encouragment goes a long way, to be able to speak and see success in someone’s life before they do.

    • Reply Michael Good March 30, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Michael, well put. “Able to speak and see success in someone’s life before they do.”
      I am reading How To Win Friends right now. I think it really makes a difference to not first point out the negative.
      The girl giving the bunny ears actually was there with her friend (the one she is give bunny ears to) for only that class. So, I didn’t get to know her that well. I’m sure she would have been a lot of fun though.

  • Reply Joe Lalonde March 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    A couple of months ago my wife and I tried cross country skiing. Man did I look like a fool. I fell down quite a bit and had no grace.

    I didn’t let that get me down and continued on until we finished the course.

    Even with those wipeouts and tumbles, the whole experience was a lot of fun. I look forward to trying it again and seeing how I improve.

    • Reply Michael Good March 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Joe, love that you enjoy trying new things. Yeah, I bet cross country skiing is harder than it looks. On tv, they make it look so easy. Have you tried downhill skiing or snowboarding?

      • Reply Joe Lalonde March 30, 2012 at 8:39 pm

        It’s probably easier than I made it but I like to push my limits. Figure if I’m not failing at it, I’m not growing. It’s all about moving your arm and leg together.

        Haven’t tried downhill skiing. That scares the bejesus out of me. This winter a coworker’s daughter snapped two bones in her leg doing the slalom. Crazy.

        I’ve briefly tried snowboarding but only on a junkie snowboard a long time ago. It is something I’m very interested in and hope I can pick up in the next couple of years. But that gets expensive with the lift tickets and hill passes.

        This summer my wife and I may tackle kiteboarding. We’ve been amazed watching people out on the big lake and it looks like tons of fun.

        • Reply Michael Good March 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm

          Kiteboarding – now that sounds fun!

          I think most poeple find skiing easier than snowboarding. I’ve done both and, with snowbording, balance of more concern and you have to be careful to not get the lip on the board caught on the snow. If that happens, you do a sudden faceplant. But, one you get the hang of it, snowboarding is a ton of fun. I bet a better board would make a big difference for you.
          Yeah, gets expensive. I went a bit in highschool but haven’t gone really at all since then.

  • Reply robclinton April 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Great principles that you’ve brought up here. These will hold true for many areas in our life…. We all need encouragement, and we also need to know what we can improve on.

    There are many things I want to try, and I have my list. Some are more dangerous than others, but never the less I love adventure, so I really feel the tug to get out there on the open waters and do some cool stuff; especially with my family.

    Right now, I’m trying out different things for building my business and I feel like I have a wealth of people encouraging me along the way. To me, this is a huge adventure, and these first few years are the ice breaker for many more daring things to come.

    I’ve already completed my half marathon in this time frame of trying new things, and am at marathon distance in my training now, and am going to make it official soon. I got really heavy for a little bit there into cross-fit type training, and have done some really intense things physically.

    To me, if you’re not trying new things, the you are not stretching, you’re not living, you’re just drifting with what you only know, and I don’t want to drift. I want to live, and live well…

    • Reply Michael Good April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Rob, that’s great insight.

      This reminds me of Tony Robbins. He talks about constantly expanding – learning, growing, stretching. I think there is a lot to that especially in terms of feeling fulfilled, happy, and content.

      If we settle, then I think we’re accepting that this is all there is in life. No matter how successful we are with our relationships, family, career, or finances, it’s health to be looking for how we can make it even better.

      • Reply robclinton April 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm

        So true… There is always a way to help someone or something around us become better than it was… Joyful Increase in all things is the way! 🙂

  • Reply Kent Julian April 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Authentic encouragement…it’s perhaps the greatest gift we can give others.

    • Reply Michael Good April 17, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Love it, Kent! Thanks for the input. Couldn’t agree more.

    Leave a Reply