How To Choose A Guitar Teacher
Make The Right Choice
The single most important decision you will ever make when learning an instrument is finding the right guitar teacher. Whether your ambitions are to be a hobby player or the next rock guitar god, finding the right teacher is crucial to your success.
The biggest mistake that most people make is basing their decision off of price by going straight for cheapest the teacher they can find. The second biggest mistake is taking the convenient option and settling for whoever lives closest. Both of these options often result in poor quality lessons and can severely limit your potential to progress on the guitar.
People put a very high value on education and often seek the best schools, the best universities or the best teachers for their themselves (or their children). When choosing a guitar teacher the same deliberation and value should be present, after all it will be a long term relationship. Just like you would take great care in choosing a doctor or surgeon trusted with your health and wellbeing, finding a professional music teacher who you can trust with educating you is very important.
Good Advice Can Be Expensive, Bad Advice Costs Even More
Think of paying for guitar lessons as an investment in your future. You’re not spending or wasting money, but instead investing it (as well as your time, effort and energy) so that you will get a return from the investment in the future.
A great example of investing can be seen in the stock market. People who make good investments get rich and as a result, swear by their investments and are happy to recommend other people follow the same path. People who make bad investments on the other hand are unhappy, cautious of future investments and often quit altogether to avoid any future suffering. The last thing you want to do is to make a bad investment with the wrong teacher which results in a negative
experience for you which puts you off playing guitar ever again.
You want the best teacher you can get so that you not only make excellent progress, but also enjoy your time playing guitar and have something to show for all the time and effort you put in.
How Will I Know Who Qualifies As A Good Teacher?
- The teacher will have an area of expertise.
A great teacher will have accumulated enough knowledge and skill over the course of their teaching to become and expert in a number of fields. If a teacher is claiming ’I teach all styles’ it’s an indication that they are new to teaching and haven’t yet established their area of specialty.
- The teacher has been teaching for at least 3 years.
Time isn’t always an indication of quality in the long term as two people can be teachers for a period of 10 years and one can become and expert while the other becomes average through complacency. It is however a good measurement of quality in the short term as most newer teachers lack the experience of what to do with their students that comes from having done it for a number of years. Teachers themselves go through the learning phase in the first couple of years as they are figuring out what to do and this can last anywhere from 1 to 3 years. Look for a minimum of 3 years teaching experience to get an average teacher, 5 is better, and anyone teaching for 10+ years you know is committed because they are still with it.
- The teacher has taught a large number of students
If a teacher has a large number of students it is an indication not only of the quality of their skills as ateacher, but because they have high numbers ofstudents they themselves are teaching more and learningmore as they go. Success breeds success and theteachers with high numbers of students improve more and more with each lesson.
- The teacher does both private and group lessons
Inexperienced teachers often resort to private lessons because they are easy to manage. Experienced teachers can easily make group lessons work and can even make them a better experience than private lessons. All of the highly sought university teachers are running group lessons and all of the graduate players come from group lessons, so don’t get fixated on private lessons or assume they are the best option just because a teacher said so.
- They can tell you how they will teach you, not just what they will teach you.
It always pays to ask a teacher “how are you going to teach me” not “what are you going to teach me” A good teacher will be able to describe the method they have for teaching you and should even preface this with a conversation about your goals and what you want to achieve so that they can work out the best way to get you there. If you hear “whatever you want to learn” as teh answer to this question, move on.
- The teacher is more focused on you, not on themselves.
There are two kinds of teachers, teachers who teach because they love it, and teachers who teach because they have too. Unfortunately most guitar teachers fall into the later. Their primary focus in themselves and their music career which leads them to seeing teaching as a backup or supplementary source of income. A teacher who is teaching because they love it will put their student first and be much more focused on your needs and helping you achieve it. Look for this when you are considering a teacher.
- They have a strategy to help you reach your goals
Good teachers have a system that gets their students results and can take anyone through the process of learning guitar successfully. Of course their will need to be adjustments along the way and modifications based on each of the students individual goals but they should be able to outline the strategy for you and give you a plan to work with.
Average teachers on the other hand just go through the motions, ask you “what do you want to learn” and string you along through song after song. Always ask a prospective teacher what strategies they have in place to help you.
- They optimise your practice time
Great guitar teachers not only tell you what to practice, but how to practice. What happens in the 6 days between lessons is very important for your guitar playing and an effective teacher will give you practice tools to make it easy to know what to do. Ask your teacher what tools they have to help you practice and keep you motivated between lessons.
- They should be showing off their successful students.
There are a lot of great guitar players out there but unfortunately, being good at guitar doesn’t make you a good teacher. Instead of looking for videos of a teacher showing off their own skills, look for videos of their students. A great teacher should be getting great results with their students and will have videos as proof. Anyone can tell you how good they are, but only a few can show you how good they are.
What You Don’t Want To Do
- Don’t make a decision on price.
There is a saying “you get what you pay for”. If you cheap out on lessons, you get cheap and nasty results. Is this really want for yourself or your kids?
- Don’t make a decision based on location.
Do your research and pick the best teacher within your area. An extra 10 minute drive once a week with a good teacher has the potential to save you years in the
learning process and is well worth the investment.
- Don’t pick a great player over a great teacher
The teacher you select obviously has to be competent on their instrument and be able to play well, but consider that the best player may not always be the best teacher and compare their track records in the field of teaching rather than their playing skills.
What To Do From Here
My recommendations to help you find the best teacher are as follows
- Do a quick google search for “guitar lessons in (your area) and see who the top 10 results are. Hint: Look for the natural search results, not the paid advertisements that come up.
- Make a list of the top 10 Teachers or music schools that come up regardless of their distance from you.
- Do your research
1. Look at their website
2. Look at their google and/or facebook reviews
3. Look for student testimonials
4. Make a shortlist of the top 3 guitar teachers and give them a call to book a trial lesson with them.
5. Do your trial lessons.
6. Make a decision based off of who you had the best connection with and think will be the best long term option for you.
Now that you know the best process to find a guitar teacher, it’s up to you to make your list, do the inquiries and decide on which teacher to go with. Of course if you’re looking for guitar lessons in Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs we would be happy to help you out with a free introduction session to get