10 Tips For Effectively Teaching Guitar Lessons In Schools

In this article, guitar tutor David Millar provides ten useful ideas in building a smooth and effective approach to teaching guitar lessons in schools.

Guitar tutors teaching guitar lessons in schools, at the primary and college level, are often presented with unique challenges compared to private home/studio work.

Here are 10 ways that will help you with lesson planning for peripatetic school guitar tuition, to learn more about finding guitar teaching work in schools, check out our article “How to Find Work Teaching Guitar in Schools.”


1. Recognise Differences Between Schools

Be prepared to adjust your teaching approach to suit the school, as not all schools are the same.This is one of the most important things to bear in mind when commencing school-based tuition.

What works well in one school may not suit the policies/ethos/expectations/student profiles etc. in a different school. Be prepared to vary student class sizes, the level of academic approach, lesson times/prices etc. to suit the individual school.

Varying your approach to teaching will yield a greater choice of schools, although if you have enough demand you will quickly determine what particular traits to look out for and select the schools that suit your teaching skills and requirements best.


2. Identify Key Staff in the School

The obvious staff to quickly establish a rapport with are the Head of Music, School Principal and office staff. Evaluating their approach towards peripatetic tuition and music in general school life will quickly give an insight into how guitar tuition might work out in the school.

Other staff to try and make contact with are: drama teachers (for collaboration in school musicals), technology technicians/teachers (for instrument/amp repairs) and any other staff members who have a keen interest in the guitar – you will find at least one of them in most schools!

Integrating into the school community will quickly help you relax and feel at home in a new teaching environment.


3. Put Teaching Contracts in Writing

Providing teaching terms in writing to the students and school is a must do nowadays, in conjunction with adhering to the relevant child protection and legal requirements for the particular region you are working in.

One important thing to remember when giving out letters and notes to students is that often they are never delivered on to their parents (!), so including an acknowledgement slip to be signed and returned is a secure way of ensuring this important information is passed on.

You will also need to be CRB checked when working with children in any school, so make sure to have this done before contacting schools about guitar lessons, and all RGT Registered Tutors receive a discounted rate for CRB checks.


4. Devise a Process For Selecting Students

If required, plan to have an agreed method of selecting students. In some schools, the demand for lessons may be oversubscribed, so a selection process or criteria should be adhered to.

It is best to keep a spread of students throughout a range of year groups to allow for the natural turnover when students leave the school.


5. Contacting Parents

Establish communication channels with students’ parents is very important, as with school-based tuition the tutor will usually have much less direct contact with parents/guardians than private home/studio-based tuition.

On occasion it may be necessary to follow up a query – typically nonpayment of a bill, or details for exam entry, or progress checks etc.

It is best to have the channel of contacting the parent (either via the school or directly) clearly defined at the outset so that any queries can be quickly resolved if and when they arise.


6. Ensure the Teaching Environment is Safe

It is worth remembering that your teaching environment is likely to be open to other people apart from the students you teach – so personal and property security should always be considered.

Also, ensure that your teaching room has a window so that any time students are in your company they will be visible from outside the room.


7. Set Goals for Students

Many of the best teaching opportunities in schools are where there is a strong bias towards graded examinations and where music is presented as a GCSE or A’ level subject.

Inform students of the wide range of RGT Guitar Exams available and help them choose which type most suits them. It is best to agree a structure of learning with the Head of Music in the school, so all expectations are clearly defined.


8. Get Involved in School Activities

Look out for opportunities to showcase your students’ abilities in prize night events, school fundraising events, school concerts, musicals, recording projects, etc. – these will raise your profile throughout the wider school community. Schools also provide excellent opportunities for ensemble groups, combining your students with other instrumental players and singers.


9. Effectively Timetable Release of Students from Class

In some schools release of students from class can be problematic, either through forgetfulness of the students or restrictions imposed by classroom teachers.

Rotation of student lesson times each week will help to avoid them missing the same class too often. Identify any study periods students might have and use these for their lesson time.

If a student is weak in a particular subject it might be best for them to avoid getting released from that particular class. Ask the Head of Music or office staff to provide a printed copy of each student’s timetable so you can easily locate which class the student is in.

If you overlap the lessons slightly and a student does not show up then you can send the previous student to fetch them on their way back to class.


10. Be Flexible When Possible

If you are used to ‘doing your own thing’ as a sole private teacher you may feel slightly uncomfortable if asked to do things sometimes in slightly different ways. Don’t be surprised if your teaching space has to be used for another activity on occasions.

Moving rooms, continuous assessments, replacement lessons for unforeseen closure days etc. are all part and parcel of the peripatetic tutor’s life, but adopting a positive attitude and flexible approach will yield a rewarding and enjoyable school teaching experience.


What are your tips for effectively teaching guitar lessons in schools? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 thoughts on “10 Tips For Effectively Teaching Guitar Lessons In Schools

  1. I’ve just been asked to teach in a private school, and was quite surprised when I found the Head of music trying to dictate rates and contracts that I would have with the student’s parents. Although, I understand the reasoning on this occasion (she did not want to create a competitive environment), I had to remember that I was in the driving seat. It’s important to remember that you are the one who holds the contract and relationship with the parents and the students, therefore the terms and rates need to be acceptable to you! It’s also a good idea to have terms outlined with the school and subject to periodic review. Otherwise in time to come you may find the terms to be dated and no longer suitable. The result here is that you may lose your position at the school, and with that a large chunk of your income. Better to have these things in place before you start than kick yourself later. The MU have some very helpful template contracts and advice in this area.

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