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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Beginner Adult Guitar Lessons

Contributing Member

Seattle, Wa

Not quite my tempo
Oct 20th, 2016 10:14 AM   Edit   Profile  

My old friend (known this guy since I was 13) wants to play the guitar.

Two weeks back I was at a gathering and his wife approached me for advise on getting him started. She wants to buy him a guitar for his upcoming birthday. She was really hinting to have me give him lessons. Teaching an adult how to play the guitar? That's something I've never tried.

After thinking about it I wouldn't know how to approach giving someone my age guitar lessons. I have done it with children and young adults, but that's a bit different. I know they've got time to develop. Not so with my friend. There's got to be some immediate satisfaction somehow involved there.

Is there a method to teach older people guitar? I've seen ads for adult piano lessons, why not guitar? I know I could probably get him started but I don't really want to make the commitment for regular lessons, although it would be a good excuse to get together. He's a real good guy that I rarely see anymore.

Anyone here have ant experience with doing this?

Contributing Member

South Jersey/USA

She turned me into a newt!....
Oct 20th, 2016 10:28 AM   Edit   Profile  

Depends on what he wants to learn.

1. Wants to start at the beginning and learn notation and theory?

2. Wants to learn some chords and play a few songs and improve/grow from there?

3. Some of both, learn tab (which is easier IMO but you will never "speak music" with other musicians).

This coming from a guy who started learning a few chords and songs in high school and progressed from there. I never learned notation or theory. Don't have all the notes on the fretboard memorized. Can't play a lead to save my life.


Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Oct 20th, 2016 11:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

Get him started with some easy 2 or 3 chord songs. Sneak in theory and scales as needed. Let him know that the disadvantage at his age is that he has so many other things on his plate, i.e. work, family etc. The advantage is that he should have a pretty good idea of what the instrument is supposed to sound like.

Contributing Member


Oct 20th, 2016 12:53 PM   Edit   Profile  

I showed my son a little, enough to get him started. Oddly enough, the most tedious lessons I ever gave was a high school teacher when I was a junior. He did not want to learn any theory, nor did he want any more diagrams on the chalkboard. Big baby.

Contributing Member

Seattle, Wa

Not quite my tempo
Oct 20th, 2016 11:32 PM   Edit   Profile  

There has to be some kind of beginner's course on-line. Maybe if I could find something like that and check in every month or so in person. How's that sound?

I figure it's going to take a year just to get his hands limbered up.

Tyrone Shuz


I'm all in!
Oct 21st, 2016 12:59 AM   Edit   Profile  

I do Skype lessons. I've dealt with seniors, in fact, I'm teaching at two senior centers now. It's really not much different, but you do have to judge what they can handle at first.

I think the trick is to find the best teacher who will take beginners, but if you're stuck, I guarantee I can do it, providing the student puts the time in.

Contributing Member

Seattle, Wa

Not quite my tempo
Oct 21st, 2016 10:52 AM   Edit   Profile  

Tyrone, that's great! Thanks for the offer. I will present the idea to him and see how he feels about it.


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Oct 24th, 2016 11:54 AM   Edit   Profile  

shunka's approach is similar to mine. I have a student who was an absolute beginner at age 41. It was tricky, and I had to really go back and think about basics. He had real trouble with rhythm and hearing the notes. Of course, we had to start with how to actually make chords, etc. Like shunka, I threw in theory as we went, rather than made it a lesson per se. So, it's kind of sunk in as we have gone on.

One thing that really worked well is finding songs he already knew by bands he liked, and learning those. Now, 3 years in, we sometimes re-visit those songs and learn other techniques from them. It's amazing how many techniques you can pull out of a recording. So, at first he was just worried about making the chords at all. Upon re-visits, we can talk about things like muting, articulation, picking, sliding. It's actually really fun.

Power Trio

Long Island

Nov 4th, 2016 10:54 AM   Edit   Profile  

i find memory retention is way less with elders.
i mean i can show a teen a mode and he/she would pick it and and be able to apply the basic rudiments of it within a week.

an elder may take a month to remember the fingerings and key. and will ask way more questions or why.

also attention span is a factor. A teen wants it all now. so you have to whip up 3 cowboy chords and show him 1000 songs he can play off of them.

an elder i find is more patient and wants to know why those chords apply to all those songs.

a bit if a different approach to use

(This message was last edited by Power Trio at 12:55 PM, Nov 4th, 2016)


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Nov 7th, 2016 02:25 PM   Edit   Profile  

Also, an adult beginner may be less willing to do a bunch of exercises, or less interested in taking in all the theory, partly because of the fact that they have more things going on in their lives than a kid. They would likely have a more specific reason to take lessons. They just want to play for themselves, or with their friends camping, or something like that. They are not likely to become a virtuoso, and may not even have any interest in being in a proper band. They have day jobs and probably families. So the goal of lessons is often going to be different than for a youth beginner.

(This message was last edited by gdw3 at 04:26 PM, Nov 7th, 2016)

Contributing Member

Seattle, Wa

Not quite my tempo
Nov 11th, 2016 12:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

UPDATE: My friend's birthday was Tuesday and she decided to give him 10 lessons from a local teacher. If it sticks, she'll pay for more. Sounds like a reasonable plan.

I got away with becoming a "mentor". A role I'm completely happy with.


Willoughby, OH , USA

I'm arrogant and a moron
Nov 12th, 2016 06:32 PM   Edit   Profile  

Power Trio,
I don't know if memory retention is less. Speaking from 20 plus years ahead of you I find I have more stuff to remember and less time to do it in. If it wasn't for a beater acoustic that I keep at work and an hour lunch I PROBABLY WOULDN'T LEARN ANYTHING.

Contributing Member


Nov 14th, 2016 05:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

People have asked me if I teach so, so many times. I always refuse, in part saying that knowing how to be a good teacher is about more than just knowing how to play. My own knowledge is rather patched together, so I'm not the best.

Another reason a regular teacher is better is also why kid's learn faster (in my theory anyway). To practice and make progress, you need to be willing to sound terrible. Kids don't care that they sound terrible and they just keep playing. Eventually they don't sound terrible. Adults don't like to sound terrible and don't get the practice time. I think playing in front of a long time friend makes the "sounding terrible" part a bit more painful, so the guitar teacher is probably best for that.

Contributing Member

Yakima, WA

Nov 20th, 2016 02:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

Lessons with local teacher (if on same page) + justinguitar.com = happy newbie

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Beginner Adult Guitar Lessons

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