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Provide Performance Opportunities

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Many of your students will have only a vague idea about why they are learning guitar. For this reason their motivation to practice may be limited and this, in turn, will limit the progress thay make.

One thing I do to provide students with a focal point for their endeavours is periodically to arrange some sort of performance opportunity event.

Over the years the form of these events has ranged from holding a party in my own home to hiring out a theatre, a PA system, sound crew and backing band. The scale of the event is not that important - what matters is the format.

In every case I have enlisted the help of friends who are good 'busking' musicians (ie. they can play along with almost anything with minimal instructions or preparation) to cover drums, bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals.

I have then invited each student to prepare a couple of songs to play with the band on the night in question. The performers are then invited to bring their friends and family along to make up a very receptive audience. Of course, if you are outlaying funds in order to stage the event it is quite reasonable to sell tickets to audience and participants alike to help cover costs.

The important points are:

  1. Don't underestimate how scary the prospect of playing in public is to most people.
  2. Appreciate that for some people this will be the greatest night of their lives.(I have been told this after the event by several students on different occasions)
  3. Don't let students choose to perform songs that are at the outer limits of what they're capable of - always choose songs they can play easily!
  4. Prepare your students very thoroughly - set them up to succeed!
  5. Don't let the events get oversubscribed! 12 songs per hour is about normal when you are constantly changing the line-up.
  6. Make the whole thing fun to be a part of!

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