At some point, maybe even sooner than later, you must get in touch with the creative side of what your student is doing and learning. It’s very important to “tune in” to just what may creatively drive that particular person, and where their tendencies go when it comes to their ideas. I find that there are many times I love to jam with them to help bring this out, or as is what happens in many cases, simply jam along with them, because that’s all they want to do! Some of my students, once they’ve learned a nice realm of “basics” just want to come into the lesson literally roaring with ideas! This is fine and okay with me, but I find that I must, as a teacher, actually adjust my approach to accommodate what it is they’re going after.
When you are doing this kind of thing, and have this kind of interaction between student and teacher, you’re bound to get caught up in the creative process as well. Many times, this leads to collaborative song writing, which I also believe is an important thing to get involved in teaching, and this has happened with many of my students, right through the recording process. Even when I was teaching a creative giant and luminary such as Paul Simon, my hour-long lessons would turn into literally 3-hour song writing session, in which I’d help him write his songs. As talented a writer as he is, he was always telling me he was “stuck” for ideas, and sometimes my particular vantage point of his writing would spawn whole new creative concepts and ideas for him, often taking his songs in whole new directions!
Of course, with a student such as Paul Simon, I didn’t really need to “harness” his creativity…there was plenty of that for him to tap into, but with many of my younger students it’s really a whole new ballgame for them, and it’s very important to always point them in the right direction. There’s usually a time when there’s a kind of “chaos” that first exists within their ideas and their creative playing, and eventually, with the right input from me, and some other “ingredients” thrown into the pot, I can sometimes see a much more interesting structure coming out of the previous slightly “haphazard” approach they may have had. This is so rewarding for me, for as a self-taught guitarist, it was always about the creativity first, and then the necessary technique and fret board knowledge would start to be acquired, and eventually it’s what would take over. This would always lead to a better and firmer grip on the handle of just what was available to me as a player/writer/improviser, and this is certainly what I love to help develop in my students as well.
So I guess you can take good stuff away with you from this Blog, regardless which side of the coin you are on…the teaching side or the student side. Doesn’t really matter…the students always ends up helping to teach the teacher!