Be SMART. Get a guitar teacher!

Question: Why is it that improvement on your instrument excels when you have a guitar teacher as opposed to learning yourself, online or from a book?

Answer:  Because your guitar teacher is smart! Not blowing our own trumpets (or strumming our own guitars) we mean the S.M.A.R.T goals system

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

This is how we set goals for you to ensure your learning follows the right track.  Each student is different and observing this system allows us to tailor your learning program so that it suits your goals, style and ability.  You can’t set SMART goals yourself – you need an experienced mentor to set them with you, and very importantly, to hold you to account in achieving them!

Here is how it breaks down:


Goals need to be specific in order to be worthwhile.  For example,  “try playing a Major scale” is not the same as “play a C major scale ascending and descending in open position using alternate picking.”   Learning how to efficiently play something is a great deal more specific than trying to play it.  Being specific means naming the WHAT and HOW of the target.


We can take the previous example of a specific goal and add to it a measurable component:  “Play a C major scale ascending and descending in open position using alternate picking, quavers at 120bpm.”  You may be able to do it at 80bpm, and we can keep measuring progress as you gradually improve technique and reach the goal of 120bpm.  If we cannot or do not measure progress, it is unlikely the progress will occur.  This is why we keep journals of each student’s lessons, containing the exercises and songs we set for them to learn, so that we can measure how well they are tackling the material and adjust our teaching to suit their abilities.


Targets and goals should always be high enough to encourage progress but not so high that progress is too difficult.  It is good practise for us to have both short term and long term targets within these boundaries.


Goals must be relevant to the learner’s interests and abilities.  There is no point setting tasks that do not engage your desires.  It is important to note that with The Guitar Gym’s vast student base, there will be other people with common interests and abilities and group lessons do in fact facilitate relevant goal setting.


You can nominate a time frame for achieving a specific goal.  However, for playing guitar this one should be used with caution, and certainly not without your teacher’s input.  People often place unrealistic timeframes on certain playing goals and become despondent when things take longer than expected.  It is often better to focus on effective practice towards achieving the goal and let it take as long as it takes!

© The Guitar Gym Pty Ltd, 2012.  Except as provided by the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.  Links to this article are permitted.

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