Teaching Guitar: Assessment Time

Teaching Guitar: Assessment Time

By NAfME member Shelley Brobst

Article Originally Posted On Teaching Guitar Workshops


“Show me what you know”
I’ve spent 4 weeks showing students where to put their fingers on the guitar and how to make sounds on this 6 string instrument. They learned to play the Em, G7 and C chords, single notes on the first 2 strings, reading on the staff and strumming patterns. They’ve even learned a little about the history of the guitar and how guitars and strings are made. I’ve been assessing them all along but, now it’s time to collect real data in a – FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT – I need them to show me what they really know. Proof that we learn “real stuff” in music class!

The class went something like this. Everyone came in and got seated with their guitars. I quickly went through each slide in the unit reminding them of what we learned. We reviewed chords and notes by playing through some of the songs from previous lessons. I drilled them on notes by singing note names and having them play back to me. I gave them a minute to drill their neighbor. We even had a review slide almost exactly like the test (get the pdf). Are there any questions? Of course, no one has any questions so, we pass out clipboards and pencils and begin.

This test was created using SmartNotebook; the answers will be “revealed” next week after I have graded the tests and return them so the students can discover the correct answers for themselves. You can see that I provided a word bank for students to use when identifying the guitar and chords. Also, I gave extra credit for students who can correctly identify the string names. Note, we haven’t discussed this yet. Next week they will get a few sentences to help them remember the string names. Once students turned in their completed test they were then asked to get in groups and start to learn “Ode to Joy” on page 20. How did they do?

80% of the class earned 100% on the test. The most common mistake was students who answered G7 in the F space when I asked them to write the note names. Another common mistake was students who mixed up D and G. All but one student correctly identified the chords and all but 2 correctly identified ALL parts of the guitar. Two girls cried… By the end of the period most students were able to play the first line of “Ode to Joy” together. They were ecstatic! We are participating in “Flat Beethoven” selfie campaign for MIOSM at our school and they have made this connection. I hope we can feature this song at the concert with guitars! Only one boy knew the names of strings 3, 2, and 1 – no one got the extra credit. Next time for sure!

I’ve included some other photos and slides and things that may help you get a better idea of what goes on in my classroom! Next week – string 3!

This bulletin board displays the work students completed before we started the guitar unit.

guitar class


Unfortunately, we don’t have guitar racks. Fortunately, we have a case for each guitar! Most guitars are 3/4 size instruments – a few are 1/2 size.


guitar class


Guitar Unit Left Hand finger numbers (get the pdf). I make them actually hold their hand like the picture then wiggle each finger as we learn the number. Remind piano students that the numbers are NOT the same.

Students can move the letter names of chords into measures to compose (get the pdf).

Videos I’ve used in class so far:

History: Acoustic Guitar

How It’s Made: Acoustic Guitar

How It’s Made: Strings


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Still don’t think you can do it? Then attend a Teaching Guitar Workshop next summer. Register now for the early bird rate! You’ll gain the skills and the confidence you need to teach a successful classroom guitar program….for Elementary School, Middle School, High School or even University level! Enroll by January 1, 2018, to save $100! Use promo code EB2018 at checkout.

guitar lessons


Check out this video of Shelley Brobst teaching rest strokes and chords at NAfME headquarters.

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The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) provides a number of forums for the sharing of information and opinion, including blogs and postings on our website, articles and columns in our magazines and journals, and postings to our Amplify member portal. Unless specifically noted, the views expressed in these media do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Association, its officers, or its employees.

Brendan McAloon, Marketing and Events Coordinator, April 6, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)