Guitar Teachers are not a "Dime a Dozen." There are all types of different guitar teachers and they all have different ways of teaching. They have different strengths and they'll have their weaknesses. Here's how to find the right one for you...
Some guitar teachers are fantastic for all levels and all styles of students. Other teachers are more appropriate for different levels of skill. Some teachers are fantastic for providing a strong foundation, but aren't able or interested in wading into the loftier aspirations.
Then, there are other guitar teachers who are perfect for experimenting and for reaching far into the unknown, but they may not be at all interested in working on scales or on music reading. Others still, may be great at what they do, "on stage in a club," but are lousy teaching any of it to another person.
WHO ARE YOU AS A STUDENT?
Over time, your guitar lessons will slowly change from asking basic guitar questions to having lengthy philosophical discussions about music and the music business. A great guitar teacher will be able to help you through all of it.
A poor guitar teacher will dismiss you, or stonewall your discussions, (they may even make you feel bad). There can be a difference between what you want from a teacher and what you need from a teacher. You'll have to understand early on if the teacher you are working with is right for you.
This can also mean that you may need to better understand what you want from a teacher in relationship to who you are as a student.
If what you 'want is to play' is jazz, the solution may be: Get a hold of a teacher who knows jazz, buy a real book, (often called jazz fake book), and start to memorize dozens of songs.
You'll need to go into wood-shed mode and play through everything until you bleed jazz. With the right teacher helping you through this, you'll become a great jazz player.
A great teacher will push you into building your skills. They'll get you to listen to recordings, learn solos (of guitar and of other instruments). If you're really serious about music, they'll push you to play as many live gigs as you can with other players. Yes, you'll be terrible at first, but you will learn.
Good teachers have a template they go by. This "Learning" template can be applied to many styles like Blues, Rock and Country, as well as, Folk or Classical. A good teacher can foster you in the style that you love. And, it's important to find that teacher, develop a solid relationship with them and grow with that instructor.
Never stay with a teacher who is not offering you any direction, has no guitar course, no program, has no material to offer you, or who lags their way through a lesson (watching the clock) offering nothing for you to do at home after your lesson time has wrapped-up.
Many jazz, folk and rock guitarists (even some blues players) also have a foundation in other playing styles, such as classical guitar. Classical guitar teaches you how to move around the fret-board, how to develop excellent fingerings and most importantly for guitarists, it teaches you how to read music.
By working with a versatile teacher and wading through several music styles, you'll achieve a cross-section of guitar instruction that will benefit you greatly as a guitar player.
Plus, learning a cross-section of information teaches you that there is more than one correct way to achieve your guitar playing goals. Whatever your path may be, learning a cross-section of music styles will most definitely influence your guitar playing in a huge way.
Most guitar students start with next to zero musical understanding with their teacher. The teacher is the guide and needs to help get the student started taking lessons with a sense of direction. The teacher is the one who is there to help get the student into guitar playing, understanding their equipment and the development of lesson material.
Most importantly, the teacher is there to offer up some nice pieces at the level the student is playing from. A great teacher will offer information about how the pieces are to be learned at home.
The other job of the teacher is to (slowly) help the students learn to read notes. Both in traditional notation and in guitar TAB. Plus, the student will need to learn how to understand chord charts (lead sheets) and how to decipher the various guitar "Lyric and Chord Charts."
The "Musical Understanding" that a guitar teacher helps a player develop is critical to the players long-term goals. What that long-term result tends to be is a self-sufficiency for being able to learn and play music without a teacher one day.
If a teacher does not build this area of 'self-sufficiency,' there is a great loss for the student over the years ahead.
The teacher's approach should addresses the basics that the student has never learned. This approach has to be able to guide the student step by step. The teacher's "Method" must offer a plan that is specifically tailored to the students lack of training in every area of the student's weak abilities.
The teacher must also genuinely seem to be interested in a student becoming a better guitarist. If the teacher doesn't seem all too interested in that - a grave problem exists.
Does your teacher support your goals? Is there is a structure in your weekly guitar lessons? Is there focus on musical fundamentals? If not - there could be a problem.
A great teaching approach is kind of like self teaching with having someone in your corner to check you once a week. And, that training coach is there to offer you more and more exposure to new guitar ideas and musical ideas.
A great teacher will ask the student if they think it would be fun to practice varied topis like improvisation. The teacher will question the student about the way the student plays and the way they approach music study. And, there will be a level of calm honesty. Never judging, and never imposing.
There should also be a mood in the teaching room of open communication and relaxed direction. If the student feels like they are not yet at the level to do something, (i.e., the student has an apprehension toward improvising but they can't explain why they do), then the student should feel comfortable about stating those feelings to the teacher.
- Practice at least an 40 min. to an hour daily, (4-5 days each week) to be able to notice progress.
- Alternate days between topics and styles to cover more ground with subjects.
- Work on preparing to play with others.
- Continue with lessons if you have a good teacher.
- Should I continue with a bad teacher?
- Is it time to start to look for a better teacher?
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