Guitar Lessons Checklist

Author: classic-guitars  //  Category: Uncategorized
Guitar Lessons Checklist


In my article about guitar lessons appropriately titled “Guitar Lessons” I discussed the rash of inappropriate guitar teachers out there just waiting to rip you off. The bright side was I also discussed how to find a good one, an increasingly more and more difficult task. So read that article first, and then, when you’ve done all that I ask of you and you, think you found a good teacher, star the lessons. Keep in mind that after while, you should check for the following, to assure you’ve made the right choice. Not doing this good cost you months, or even years, of waisted lessons. But first, what is the following? Well it’s a check list of where your child or yourself, should be in respect to the amount of time spent with that teacher. Now of course that’s not to say that this is an exact time line. Lets not forget, we must factor in devotion, talent, and time spent practicing, a huge factor, by the way, but thats another article. Look for “How to practice guitar.”

In the first three to four weeks, there should be a marked improvement in the simple physical ability’s of the student. What I mean by that is the way that the student is able to play note to note. He should be able to move more fluently, but not necessarily proficiently. Simply put it should no longer be a laborious task to move amongst the single notes you know how the play, which brings me to the next item on the list. How many notes should the student know how to play and read? Eight. Eight notes on three strings in the first position. The first position! What’s the first position? Don’t panic. It’s simple. Allow me to explain.

Positions on the guitar are dictated by which fret the first finger falls. Frets are the boxes on the front part of the neck of the guitar. If you position your hand so that your first finger falls on the first fret, (box) then you are in the first position. If it falls on the second fret, then you are in the second position. And so on. Now mind you, it is not necessary to teach all notes. Some of the frets will be skipped at this point. Don’t worry, that is proper form. They will be brought back in to play later. That’s the right way to teach it. You’ll just have to trust me on this barring taking a series of music lessons from me. That’ll cost you. This is free. Don’t worry when junior says that he knows the first and second fret but not the second. That’s actually the way I should be. On the first and second string anyway. So knowledge of eight notes in the first position, on the first three strings. On a guitar, the first three strings are the bottom three strings as you hold the guitar properly in a playing stance. The thinest ones. If your student has been at lessons for about a month he should be somewhere in this range.

Our next check point fall about a month to six weeks later. About 10 to 12 lessons. OK, remember, good practicing habits must be applied. At least 10 minutes a day, 4 – 6 days a week. For this to work. Else, you cannot blame the teacher. Now at the 10 to 12 lesson point the student should be finished with the first position. Knowing all the notes on all the frets of all the six strings, frets 0 – 4 and usually, but not always, 5 on the first string. That includes the missing frets from before. The ability to move among these notes should now be fairly fluent. The student should also be able to tune the strings on the guitar without the help of an electronic tuner. There should be some decent ability to play chords. More then one note at a time; You know, strumming; Stroking all of the strings together. These are difficult to do. And changing from chord is the most difficult thing to do for beginners. So as long as there is some ability here. And some knowledge of the chord names, that’ll do.

Those are the basics. A good teacher, to help motivate the student, and keep them enjoying the process, will throw a few popular songs into the mix as well. Usually nothing to do with theory, just fun. A bad teacher will do this almost exclusively, teaching plenty of songs with no theory. Keeping student happy, and needing to coming back, “forever and ever an ever”. This is a waist of good money. The student will forever need someone to show him how to play a song instead of being able to figure *** out himself. Tabs don’t count. That’s another article, “Guitar tabs equals paint by numbers”. But learning some songs along the way for pleasure is quite appropriate. These will vary greatly depending on the tastes of the student and the teacher. They will include whole songs like “House of the rising sun” or “Dust in the wind”. Or they’ll be famous sections or riffs like the opening to “Smoke on the water” or “Sweet home Alabama”. Usually a combination. Again these are all relative to taste.

Alrighty then, let’s break it down in list form:


4 to 6 weeks:

∙ The ability to play and read in the vicinity of 8 notes on 3 strings

∙ Decent fluent movement from note to note


10 to 12 weeks:

∙ The ability to play and read all the notes in the first position (frets 0 – 4 on all six strings)

∙ Ability to fluently move among these notes

∙ Should be able to tune a guitar on his own

∙ Should have some knowledge of basic chords an some ability to play them.

∙ The ability to play songs or part of some songs is not unusual


Please remember this is not an exact science and there will be some deviation from this I’m sure. Use this as a guide and factor in the things like natural abilities of the student and practicing times, and judge whether or not the teacher is doing his or her job. Although it’s often true, don’t let the teacher try and blame the student, literally at least half the times it’s the teachers fault. You know your child better then anyone if you think they would do better elsewhere, go, before your child looses interest from a bad learning experience. They rarely go back. Another problem might be that the teacher holds your child’s interest but fails to accomplish anything substantial and you loose time and money.

Let me also take the time here to discuss age. If the student is under the age of 9 these expectations are far to high. There are to many things to be considered at such a young age except to say that if the child is enjoying the lessons then there is no harm. But please, hold them to no standards at that age. Simply let them have fun.



John Marchionne is a professional musician and music instructor.

He is owner and lead instructor at Ensemble School of Music at Boca Raton, FL.

Visit his Website





By: John Marchionne

About the Author:

John Marchionne is a professional musician and music instructor.
He is owner and lead instructor at Ensemble School of Music at Boca Raton, FL.
Visit his Website

Create a video blog…instantly.

Leave a Reply

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree

custom book reports do my college homework persuasive essay for highschool students sites to get essays act essay help