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July 2012--How to Pick a Guitar Teacher in Your Area

Thursday, July 5, 2012
Learning at home is fine and all but sometimes you need the direct interaction with a good guitar instructor in your area, but where can you find the right guy? Here’s a few tips.

Guitar Teachers to Avoid

1) The Frustrated Guitar Player Teaching Just to Pay the Rent.

This person has dreams of “making it big” but the right breaks haven't opened up for them so they reluctantly, and rather ashamedly, start teaching at the local music store. Teaching is not really their "thing". It just pays the bills until the big break comes. Once something better comes along they’re gone and won't give you a second thought.

2) The Self-Centered Guitar God.

Lessons with this guy end up are about 80% the student sitting and watching while the teacher plays his favorite licks - usually the faster and more impressive the better - and 20% of the student playing and made to feel inadequate. The teenage students tend to gravitate toward this type of instructor - lots of "wow" but little instruction.


Guitar Teachers to Go To

The Un-Assuming Educator

He’s the one with the well-worn briefcase of teaching materials who has been teaching for years. He knows music - he can read it. He teaches kids and adults. He’s happy and fulfilled when his students actually learn something. During a lesson he might play occasionally, but more likely the student plays while he evaluates and coaches. He’s busy teaching skills - not riffs. This guy is a bit harder to find but most places have at least one that fits into this category.

When choosing a teacher what should you look for?

1) Someone who can clearly articulate to you how they teach.

Ask what they would plan on teaching you?  A real instructor should be able to systematically tell you exactly the path he is going to take you down.

2) Someone who has been trained in music. (A music degree, a music major in college, etc...)

A person who has some formal music training will understand the process of teaching better than someone who just picked up playing guitar on his or her own.  Remember, it’s about finding a “teacher” not just a great “player.”

3) Someone who is actively playing as well as teaching.

Ask them where you can hear them play. If they aren’t playing somewhere then this could be a clue to their professionalism and experience.  If they are playing somewhere then go hear them. Listen to their style of music.  Is it what you want to learn?  If you're looking to learn jazz and this teacher plays every Saturday night with his heavy metal band, then this might not be a great fit.

Remember, you're the one paying the instructor.  Tell them exactly what you are coming to them for - this can often save a lot of time when getting to the root of an issue.

Also, don't feel like you have to sign up for lessons forever. Sometimes you just need to take a lesson or two to get what you need and then continue on your own or, if you want, continue with the instructor.
If you're nervous about just going down to the music store and getting whoever is teaching there then check out universities in your area.  Many of their guitar professors take students on the side and a guitar professor is generally much more qualified when dealing with certain technique issues.

Keep Learning & Growing!

- Steve
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