Teaching Makes You a Better Musician
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein
As a young teenager, I took private lessons at a private music school much like San Antonio Music Academy. I have a brother 5 years younger than me who was also interested in music, but he wasn’t in lessons at the time. I decided to share with him what I had been learning in my guitar lessons. Teaching my brother helped me realize which concepts I knew really well and which concepts I needed more clarification on. It separated in my mind the things I understood deeply and thus could relay (teach) to someone else, versus the things I could “just play” without fully understanding what I was doing.
When I was teaching my brother how to play bar chords, I realized I couldn’t explain the technique I was using to play clean bar chords. l later analyzed and dissected exactly what I was doing and even went a few steps back and imitated what it was like for me when I first started learning bar chords. Doing this enabled me to explain and illustrate to my brother the correct technique and proper steps to be able to play exactly as I was playing. Over the next few months, I used the same process over and over to teach my brother different things on the guitar. What started as a desire to show him a few things became something that helped me fully engrain what I was learning and thus become a better guitarist.
I realize that your long-term goal as a musician may not be to teach professionally. However, I think it’s safe to assume you have a goal to be become better at guitar, piano, voice, drums, violin, or whatever your instrument may be. Think about the things you are capable of playing on your instrument. Do you think you know your instrument or voice well enough to be able to teach someone else? – perhaps a sibling, friend, cousin, or even a parent. I encourage you to take the opportunity to teach a concept, a song, or a technique to someone you know. Teaching is a great way to solidify the things you have already learned and a wonderful technique to figure out the areas you may need to revisit and relearn deeper.