I never slept through the night when I was in high school. Fortunately, I had some terrible classes – where I caught up on my sleep -, so that I could be wide awake for my great teachers!

All over the world their are great teachers and…well…not-so-great teachers. Whether you’re the former or the latter, your new teaching mantra should be “keep it simple for the student.”

If you’re kids aren’t wide awake in your guitar class, keep these 5 questions in mind the next time you write a lesson plan.

1) Are your expectations too high?
Sometimes you’re so excited you want the students to play the whole piece right out of the gate. This can leave a class dizzy! Try breaking down pieces into small chunks, maybe just concentrate on a couple of bars.

2) Are your classes confusing?
Sometimes you forget that the class does not have a Master’s in Music Ed. Your students’ ability to understand deep concepts is undeveloped. Don’t give them more than one or two ideas to chew on. More will just confuse or bore your them. This problem grows exponentially with class size.

3) Are your lectures full of jargon.
There’s no question that you just played some hairy flat, augmented, minor triad chord leading to the dominant. Put yourself to the test and see how simple you can make your language. Explain everything in the simplest terms, especially if you’re going to rattle off some big musical idea.

4) Are your questions REALLY hard?!?
Aren’t they supposed to be hard? Isn’t that how people learn? If your students can’t answer your questions, they’ll become disengaged. They won’t bother and they’ll be intimidated when you look around the room for an answer. Instead, give them all of the tools to build up to those heavy-weight questions.

The easier your questions, the more responses you’ll get. When it comes time to ask those heavy questions, your students won’t be intimidated.

5) Are you planning to follow up on learning?
You’re not going backwards if your class is struggling with a concept you taught them a month ago. Plan to follow up to see if the concepts you are teaching are sticking. Inject some of last month’s lessons into next week’s lessons. The class may not remember everything, but it will come back quickly. They’ll be proud of how easily it comes to them.

Of course, teaching a guitar class will naturally keep a kid’s eyes open. But if you want to stand out as one of those great teachers, Keep It Simple for the Student!