Reply To: "Flipped" Guitar Classroom?

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The mixed level guitar class is the biggest challenge that we face in teaching a school guitar class. So often I hear about teachers who are attempting to teach three guitar classes in one and find themselves running out of options and time. There is a lot you can do with your group without carving the class up into groups that you can’t give adequate attention to. Here are a few things to remember:

1. Though you may have some genuinely advanced students, my guess is that few of them have the kind of large ensemble experience that a big group can afford. It may require you to look around for literature or to write your own, but I would have at least three large ensemble pieces that will have some challenging parts for the more experienced, easier parts for the newbies, and plenty of solid musical concepts to impart to the group as a whole. has lots of material of this kind.
2. A regimen of scales and exercises done on a daily basis will bring the whole class together in a common activity. No one is so advanced or so inexperienced as not to benefit from a solid warm-up on fundamental things. A good warm up might include the chromatic scale, open position major or minor scales, box scales, blues scales, extension exercises, right hand exercises, (PIMAMI, travis pick, rasqueado, different strum patterns etc.) The thing about the warm-up is that it gives each student a chance to assess their ability individually, and it also gives the class a chance to play together and establish the most basic aspects of ensemble playing. I have found that a consistently applied warm up has been the most beneficial thing I have done with a class of different skill levels. It is also a very good thing to have when looking for things to assess with a big class.

I have a lot of thoughts about the multi-level guitar class, but the one that keeps coming to me is that we have to get our administrators to recognize the need to skill divide the guitar classes. Providing on line resources can be a very positive thing for the kids, and it can help to jump start things, but there is no substitute for a classroom experience where a student interacts with the teacher in real time.

I have lots of ideas and strategies to help you with this…I would love to talk to you more. Let me know if you would be interested!

Best of luck!