A crash course for teaching brand new guitar players how to play the instrument would strip away all the talk and get right to the basics. It would focus on getting the student to play melodies (and eventually chords) as quickly as possible.
It would also teach just enough “theory” to allow the student to progress to the next stages of guitar learning.
Step by Step by Step
First, it would describe how a guitar is typically constructed, and point out the parts of the guitar. This is mostly a matter of getting our terminology straight. So when you say “up near the nut” or “You tune the strings with the tuning pegs”, your student(s) will know what you’re talking about.
Second, it would explain what the frets do. Not only would it point out how to properly press down on the strings, but it would involve a bit of basic music theory. Perhaps you could relate the guitar fretboard to the piano keyboard.
Third, it would explain the proper technique for fingering the strings.This is closely related to the previous point. The point is, you want your students fingering the strings correctly right from the very start of their guitar careers.
Fourth, it would explain the proper way to strike the strings with your fingers or with a pick. This may see obvious, but picking the strings with a pick is quite foreign to the brand new guitar player. So explaining how to hold the pick, how to hit the strings crisply and cleanly.
Just a little bit of theory
Fifth, it would outline how the guitar is tuned, and why, and have you learn the string names.
Knowing the names of the strings is extremely important. If you want to be able to read music, at least a little bit, and move around the neck of the guitar this is the perfect place to start.
Sixth, it would explain where to find some important reference points on the fretboard: the most important notes, other than the open string notes. Such as G, C, and D.
Seventh, it would explain how to play some basic major scales, most likely starting with G, C and D. Not only does this help your student(s) to become familiar with the fretboard, but it is the first step to learning how to play simple melodies by ear, You may be surprised how quickly they catch on to playing simple songs.
Eighth, it would have you work on a few simple tunes such as Ode to Joy, Three Blind Mice, Twinkle Twinkle. This is also pretty obvious. There’s no better way to learn to play than to play familiar tunes.
Ninth, it would introduce you to some basic chords, perhaps first in two and three string versions, then in 4 string versions. Playing on just 4 strings is a good place to start chording because they can start to see some success very quickly.
Tenth, it would introduce some songs that can be played with one and two chords. There are quite a few songs a new student can play along with. Our own practice tracks are an excellent source of simple, traditional, seasonal, and popular tunes even brand new students can play along with.