Best Guitar Lessons for Teachers: Our Top Pick
Guitar Tricks Courses
With strong topical organization and detailed courses that maintain a good balance of beginner and advanced material, Guitar Tricks is one of the best resources for teachers who want a tool for building their own lessons or creating new material for their students.
Teachers need good resources to inspire their own lessons.
They need something that pushes and trains them, so they can impart knowledge to students as they improve.
Without being able to learn and improve their own base of knowledge, teachers wouldn't be able to teach. This is especially true when teaching guitar and if you want to take on more advanced guitar students. The best way for a guitar teacher to supplement their own teaching is by taking lessons themselves.
But, instead of taking them in-person (from another teacher) we recommend guitar teachers work with online guitar lesson programs that allow them to improve their own skills at any time, for an extremely cheap price.
Why they work for teachers
These lessons are often helpful for teachers because of how convenient it is to use them, and the wide range (breadth) of material that many of them cover. Here are just a few of the reasons we recommend them:
- Conducive to busy schedules (use any time at own pace)
- Lots of resources covering a wide range of topics
- Helpful for specialized study
- Helpful for advanced study
These are all features of online guitar courses, which we think are beneficial to guitar teachers looking to broaden their skill set and improve their ability to teach.
What teachers need to accomplish
There are several things that good teachers are able to do on a regular basis:
- Have a specialized understanding of the subject they teach
- Have an expanding knowledge base of the subject they teach
- Have a "lifeline" that can help them when they themselves need to build knowledge
What this article covers
In this article, we're rounding up the best guitar lessons for teachers online, based on our own use and thorough research of the programs recommended.
Keep in mind, we partner with three of the five sites we recommend here.
However, that does not mean that we haven't given a thorough review and audit of each one equally. If you want to read individual reviews of any of the following programs, we'll link to full reviews so you can do so.
Best Guitar Lessons for Teachers
For teachers, we've recommended lessons from Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, Guitargate, and Active Melody. Two of them are larger websites that have been around for a long time, while two are a bit newer. You can use the orange buttons to try the programs out, or read on more details about our rationale for each selection.
1. Guitar Tricks Courses
Guitar Tricks checks off all the boxes we want in a good teaching resource.
It provides a great balance of skill level (lots of beginner and advanced content), puts an appropriate amount of emphasis on music theory, and has a really solid organizational system that introduces topics at the right time within the order of each course.
As we've kept up with their platform, they consistently release material multiple times a week, usually two to three lessons, most of which contain multiple videos.
Focus on Song Lessons
Teachers that help with a lot of cover songs should take note here:
Guitar Tricks has a ton of song lessons.
They broke 1000 licensed song lessons in 2020, and are continuously adding to the database. If you're a guitar teacher working students who want to learn songs, Guitar Tricks is probably one of your best options, simply because they do a fantastic job with this part of their program.
All the songs are taught step by step in short, easy to digest videos that are all accompanied by a full and accurate tab sheet.
The iPad and iPhone App
Guitar Tricks is also well-liked for their iPhone and iPad app, which are easy to access and mirror all of the same content on the course. I've used my iPad with the Guitar Tricks app to teach and explain concepts when I've given lessons in the past.
I've found the Guitar Tricks forum more useful as a teacher than I did as a student, because you can actually talk to other teachers from Guitar Tricks who appear in the videos, as well as guitar teachers from around the world.
It's an active forum that covers everything you could imagine relating to learning and/or teaching guitar. If you have a question or want to connect with like-minded educators, it's a great place to hang out.
The Guitar Tricks program can be used in a classroom context, either as supplemental content or as the main source of lecture. For example, I know some teachers that go through a Guitar Tricks video, then help the students apply what they've just seen in the video.
Teacher's will appreciate the low price of Guitar Tricks, which comes out to about $15 a month if you buy a year-long membership. Without the yearly commitment, it's $20 a month.
Read more: Guitar Tricks cost
Beginner-Friendly and Advanced
Guitar Tricks is one of the best programs when it comes to producing content for varying skill levels. This means they have plenty of material for beginners and advanced players alike. Teachers can learn and expand their own skill set, while also using Guitar Tricks lessons for their students that are more firmly in the beginner category.
For guitar teachers, Guitar Tricks is a great place overall to go for lesson ideas and expanding your own skill set.
Read the full review: Guitar Tricks
IDEAL FOR: Getting lesson ideas and expanding your own playing ability
TrueFire is our top recommendation for those seeking advanced guitar lessons, which also makes it one of the best options for guitar teachers, who are likely already advanced in their playing ability.
Where TrueFire is really strong is in their individual courses, which are varied enough to cover every musical concept and guitar technique you could think of. They also have the largest body of content, with over 40,000 lessons spread across 800 courses.
They also allow you to purchase and download one lesson at a time, which is helpful if you want to avoid the monthly membership.
Most courses are standalone offerings and not necessarily part of a wider series.
Here's a screenshot of one page in the course catalog:
Topics and teachers vary widely, giving you a ton of material to pick from.
This is particularly helpful for those that specialize in a unique/specific style or teach in a formal capacity.
You'll also notice a lot of big names in the TrueFire catalog. Above we see Ana Popovic teaching the Blues Firepower course, but you'll also have courses from big names like Steve Vai, Andy Timmons, and more.
Read more: Steve Vai Guitar Lessons
TrueFire runs their membership program (which gives you access to everything for streaming) at $29 per month. This is a little more expensive than comparables like Guitar Tricks at only $19, but TrueFire's yearly rate is lower, at only $149.
If you're a guitar teacher covering a lot of different material, perhaps for more advanced students, TrueFire is a fantastic resource.
It's also one of the best fits for teachers that just want to improve their own guitar playing.
Not only will the material challenge you, but it'll keep you engaged with deep dives into specific topics. The way TrueFire publishes their guitar lessons presents you with an opportunity to build skills in areas that you wouldn't otherwise have access to.
Note that they offer a free trial as well, which I believe is for 30 days.
We've also linked to the full review below.
Read the full review: TrueFire
IDEAL FOR: Advanced players, teachers, and professional musicians
Since JamPlay puts a little more emphasis on style variety and narrower skill paths, we've consistently recommend them for intermediate guitar players.
Their large collection of specialized courses can be really helpful for teachers that are addressing more specific or nuanced playing styles, or that might have more advanced students.
It's also going to be a better option for a teacher that might want to expand their own skill set, in addition to getting some lesson planning ideas.
Less Focused on Songs
JamPlay has actually reduced their song lesson section in recent years, focusing more on specialty courses instead. While they still have a licensed song library, it's not a major focus of their new content, which should be a consideration if you're a teacher looking for song help.
More Focused on Stylistic Variety
As I mentioned, JamPlay is particularly good at providing content that covers a wide variety of styles. This is all in addition to their recent push for specialized courses that drill down even deeper into particular concepts, guitar techniques, and musical genres.
If you have a group of students that is a bit more advanced or studies a wider variety of music, a JamPlay membership could be particularly helpful to you.
Buying Courses one at a Time
Most of the courses in JamPlay are available as a single purchase without a membership.
Obviously those with a membership can stream everything, but if you're only interested in a couple courses you can just buy those courses as standalone products and not worry about the monthly membership.
Notice in the screenshot below, the "Buy for 50% off" button.
You can checkout our full review of the JamPlay platform via the link below or the embedded video review.
Read the full review: JamPlay
IDEAL FOR: More advanced lesson planning and studying really specific techniques or playing styles
Guitargate is the course we recommend most for a music theory focused guitar study, which would apply to a lot of teachers.
For those that want to both learn and teach with a strong injection of theory, Michael Palmisano's Guitargate courses are some of the best available, and cheaper than a lot of the bigger sites.
Currently, a Guitargate membership is just $10 per month:
His course used to be available on Udemy where it was one of the most popular instructional guitar courses on their platform, though is now available on his own site with a membership.
Palmisano's Teaching Format
Since his site is smaller in scope, Palmisano still employs a system where he offers direct feedback, using his strong teaching background to assist students. This might not be as necessary for other teachers, but if personal feedback is something helpful to you, it's an important part of the Guitargate experience.
His courses are also longer, as Palmisano puts a lot of time into explaining and illustrating the why behind fretboard movement.
He's good at helping you put all the moving parts together, which you can then illustrate to your students.
IDEAL FOR: Studying or teaching with an emphasis on music theory
5. Active Melody
If you teach bluesy styles, lead guitar, lots of scales, or melodic improvisation, Brian Sherrill's Active Melody is going to be an extremely helpful resource to keep in your back pocket.
He teaches scales and blues lead at an intricate level, which can give you a lot of different material to focus on with your students or to improve your own playing.
What's even better news is that a lot of his program is free on YouTube, though the paid side is a worthwhile investment.
Price and Premium Content
To get his paid content, you'll sign up for $10 a month, the same as a Guitargate membership. This unlocks several resources for each video, including a second instructional video for each lesson (a premium Vimeo embed), downloadable backing tracks, and a premium guitar tab sheet.
Here are a few screen shots that show the premium content.
Note that the YouTube lesson in the first image is labeled as a "free guitar lesson." In a free account, that's the only part of this page that would be available.
You might notice in the last screenshot that Active Melody uses a Soundslice guitar tab embed, which is a premium sheet music resource. It's also used on TrueFire guitar lessons.
For a guitar teacher, these additional elements are helpful, both for your own study and when re-purposing the material for your own students.
IDEAL FOR: Blues and jazz lead improvisation and lead intricacies
Why take our word for it?
Having taught a lot of guitar myself, I often view online guitar programs through the eyes of a teacher. Particularly for the lessons I've written, they've been a valuable asset and information portal where I've always been able to find new ideas and material.
I've also spent nearly 10 years now working with these websites and reviewing their content, through this website and now via our YouTube channel.
The recommendations I make are based on real experience and actual use of these programs.
We don't simply sign up and then recommend whatever comes up first.
Instead, we use these lessons and analyze them from a particular perspective. In this case, that's the perspective of a guitar teacher
How We Pick
Thus, we pick the lessons and programs that we believe are going to be the most helpful for guitar teachers.
We don't simply look for the best lessons (though the best programs tend to be the most widely applicable), but we try to figure out which one would be the most helpful to you in your situation.
This takes us through a process of testing, taking good notes, rating (most programs are rated in their individual reviews) each program we use, and then looking at courses within those programs to see which ones are the best fit.
Factors We Use to Evaluate Lessons
To evaluate guitar lessons for teachers, we're looking at criteria that would matter most to someone who wants to use these programs as a supplemental teaching resource or to improve their own skills and write their own lessons.
- As a supplemental teaching tool
- For improving a teacher's own guitar skills and abilities
That means we're looking for an emphasis on music theory, good balance of skill level (beginner and advanced), and a decently large body of content.
- Music theory emphasis
- Good balance of skill level
- Large body of content
We also want to see good value and topical organization, tough we would apply these two things regardless of the guitar lesson context we're reviewing for.
Let's look a little closer at each criteria.
Cost and Value
Where value means quality of lessons in regards to the amount you pay
Keep in mind, most of these programs offer a time-limited free trial and a discounted rate for yearly membership.
Here are a couple pages where we sum up pricing for the top two programs:
For value we simply take the monthly cost of each membership and plot it against the overall rating of that program. In the following graph, you have Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, Guitargate, and Active Melody all represented among several other popular guitar lesson sites.
You can see that Guitar Tricks, Guitargate, and JamPlay are three of the highest-value options overall.
Emphasis on Music Theory
It's important for guitar teachers to be taught by a program that emphasizes music theory.
Even if you don't specifically teach music theory in your lessons, we recommend that the lessons you use emphasize music theory.
This helps teachers explain movement on the fretboard more clearly and makes it easier for them to explain to students why they might be instructing certain movements and patterns.
It also means that if a situation calls for music theory tutoring, you - as the teacher - are able and qualified to provide it.
Volume (amount) of Content
Since guitar teachers know a lot and teach a lot of different students, it's important for their lesson source to have a large and broad volume of content to draw from.
Teachers need to know a lot of guitar and musical concepts to serve a wide range of skill levels and a variety of students.
To help bolster this knowledge base, we look for online guitar lessons that have a larger database of content. While pure volume of lessons isn't in itself the primary issue, it is a good starting point for making a good teacher's resource.
Skill Level Balance
Guitar teachers often deal with a wide range of skill levels on a regular basis.
Similar to the aforementioned volume issue, lesson programs that have a good skill level balance are useful for teachers that have students with varying degrees of skill. They should provide good guitar resources for beginners but also help you in more nuanced and advanced areas of study.
As with any good guitar lesson program, organization and ordering of topics is extremely important. It's no different for teachers.
When we rate online guitar lessons, we often use topical organization to measure quality.
This is especially important for teaching since properly ordering guitar topics is crucial for the student's success. In other words, it's important to cover the basics before you add complexity.
You should be covering single notes before intervals, intervals before scales, and so on as difficulty increases. Guitar lesson programs that put a lot of thought and care into this order are extremely helpful references for teachers.
Other Factors to Consider
All of the above criteria are related to how the guitar lessons are produced and structured, which you have absolutely no control over.
Thus, we also recommend that you - as the teacher - pay attention to factors and variables that you do control and that are unique to your situation.
Here are a few:
What skill level you teach
While it's true that most guitar teachers teach a range of skill levels, it's also common for many teachers to have a dominant type of clientele.
For some that's younger kids, for others that's college-level students in a classroom, or for others that might be a particular musical style.
Whatever it is, make sure you take it into consideration when choosing an online guitar lesson resource.
How much you want to learn yourself
There are two reasons for guitar teachers to pay for lessons for themselves.
First, to assist in lesson planning and to provide ideas for their own lessons. The second reason is to expand their own skill set and to actually use the lessons for learning and not just planning.
Consider the balance of planning and learning that would be most ideal for you.
How you plan lessons
A third consideration should be how you plan lessons and what your "system" is for getting through that task.
Would you use online lessons to help that process?
Is drawing on another person's material conducive to how you plan and teach?
What program would be most helpful to your planning process?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Are lessons like this commonly used by teachers during a lesson for illustrative purposes?
A: Yes. This is a fairly common practice for those that have used online guitar lessons in their own learning. Particularly in blues guitar lessons and acoustic guitar lessons, the practice of using online material to demonstrate and then expand on is very effective.
Q: Is it okay for us to share this content with students?
A: Most of these programs are fine to share as long as you are not recycling login information.
Q: Is there written material that goes beyond what you see in the videos?
A: In most cases, online guitar lesson programs provide a lot of supplemental content in the form of PDFs, printable documents, and even Guitar Pro files. JamPlay is the best option for those prioritizing supplemental or "printable" content.
Teaching guitar can be significantly helped if you have a resource that you yourself can learn from.
It's kind of like having a software support contract that you can call or reference when you don't know the answer to something. While there are a lot of great programs out there, these five are the best I'd recommend for teachers and those giving lessons in a tutoring format on a regular basis.
If you have questions about the programs, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below and I'll do my best to help you out.