Teach Guitar  Logo
 Teaching Skills Music Skills Business Skills Aspiring Teachers New Teachers Experienced Teachers
Teaching Skills Teaching Skills > How to Teach > Basics of Teaching Guitar Music Theory > The importance of repeated use
Summary: What if music theory doesn't stick? - Repeated application of knowledge helps cement it in place.

The importance of repeated use

[Last article] [BTGMT Index] [Next article]

Once you have got your student to understand a particular aspect of music theory don't just tick it off the list and move on. Make sure you continually call upon this new-found comprehension in subsequent lessons. Get them to use the information repeatedly.

So one week you have got your student to work out the names of the notes up the E string. Next lesson, as part of the warm up, get them to name a few notes at random. Get them to work out barre chords at different positions using this information. Get them to write a simple riff based on the notes to one chord or something - anything that gets them to use the information. The following week ask them to draw a diagram naming the notes. Week three play some different notes and get them to name them. Touch on the subject each week until your student can work with the information unhesitantly.

My Golden Rule Number 7 says:

Only by repeated use in varying situations is a concept thoroughly understood

One interesting aspect of this is the general tendency for tutors to assume that after a brief explanation of something the student will, as if by magic, instantly have the same level of familiarity with that concept as the tutor themself.

You have just told the student that the major scale is made up of notes from the chromatic scale according to the formula:

Tone, Tone, SemiTone, Tone, Tone, Tone, SemiTone

They have worked out the notes on the C major and G major scales.

"Right" you say "Now you can work out all the chords in Bb major"

No they can't! Right at this point they are hanging on by their finger-tips! They need to spend time repeatedly using the information you have taught them until the feel of what a major scale is has permeated their thoughts and feelings. Until they can spot one by ear, by sight and by smell! That's when it might make sense to move on and see what else we can extrapolate from the major scale.

As a reasonably advanced player you have come across the major scale in many different guises; approached it from several different angles; seen many sides to it. It's like an old friend whose habits and peculiarities are all known to you. But when your student is first introduced to this scale they are like someone introduced to a new person - the act of introduction is only a point of departure. Getting to know someone is a gradual process. Getting to know concepts in music theory or in any other subject must likewise be seen as a gradual process.

The way to get familiar with a concept is by repeated and varied use of that concept. Application of this approach to teaching requires the tutor to be very creative. You have to constantly think of new applications of the theory you are teaching. In so doing, you will be pleasantly surprised how your own knowledge, appreciation and ability to apply music theory will evolve.

[Last article] [BTGMT Index] [Next article]

Related Pages
 From the Bottom Up
 The Importance of the Major Scale
 Don't believe a word your student says
 Correct Sequence
 Use it or Lose it
 Don't Waste Time Explaining
 Defining Musical Terms
 Motivate before Mystifying
 Examine, Revise, Consolidate
Products from TeachGuitar.com


TeachGuitar Forums

 -Guitarist's Dictionary
 -Resource Exchange Library
 -Guitar Teacher's Forum


 -About Us
- Contact Us
 -Nick Minnion