In my last post, I talked about what you need to know about yourself before looking for a guitar instructor. In this post I would like to share some thoughts on what to look for in your guitar instructor. This applies whether you are looking to study guitar in your home town or seek guitar instruction online.
- Does the guitar instructor teach the style of guitar you want to learn?
- Does the guitar instructor teach/accept your level of study; beginner intermediate or advanced?
- Is the guitar instructor passionate about teaching?
It’s A Matter Of Style
A professional guitar instructor is often quite versatile and proficient in many styles of music. It is worth asking which styles the instructor frequently teaches and performs. Remember, these are your lessons. Lessons will progress faster and be much more enjoyable if you are studying with a guitar instructor that is experienced and excited about style of music you wish to study.
A guitar instructor that is experienced and enthusiastic about meeting you at your level of study always makes for the best combination. Many instructors are great for the intermediate level. Students with some experience looking to improve can usually find several good instructors.
Considering Talent, Drive & Experience
In my opinion, it is especially important to find the best instructor/student match at the beginner and the advanced levels. Being a beginning guitar student requires more from a guitar instructor than someone that can play guitar well. It is also very important to find out if an instructor accepts children and teenagers, as well as, skilled and enthusiastic about working with that age group.
There are many great guitar players and instructors that may not be able to read music, teach classical guitar and/or music theory. A guitar student planning to audition for a collegiate program will be required to demonstrate such skills. It is important to seek an instructor who is capable of teaching guitar at this advanced level.
The same is true if a guitar student wants to play professionally. Finding a guitar instructor that is currently performing professionally in the pit for theater productions, at clubs and venues or as a studio musician is really important. A student can learn a lot by being in immediate contact with these skills and situations.
I have invited my own students to observe recording sessions, rehearsals and even play along with me in certain situations.
It’s Simple: Trust Your Instincts
Lastly, do you get the sense the guitar instructor wants to be teaching? Trust your instincts. When I was younger, I experienced guitar lessons with an instructor that would rather be performing, or doing just about anything else other than teaching. He didn’t really enjoy teaching beginners and he didn’t like the music I liked. He wasn’t a very good instructor, but he was a good guitar player. As soon as the 30 minutes were up, he grabbed the cash and hit the door as fast as possible.
After five months of learning bits and pieces of songs, music theory and scales, I didn’t enjoy playing and I quit guitar lessons. I was young and assumed it was about my inabilities, today, I know it wasn’t. That experience, along with some others I will get to down the road, caused a lot of unnecessary frustration, self doubt and unhappiness.
So, does the instructor not only have the knowledge and ability, but the energy, enthusiasm and the heart of a teacher?
When you commit to guitar lessons, you are beginning a journey and a relationship with the instructor. Ask yourself, “Is this the type of person I want to be with on a musical journey?”
Learning an instrument is a wonderful way to learn about yourself. A big part of the process is coming face to face with your strengths and weaknesses. You want to select someone that can not only present and demonstrate the information but also guide you through the process. You want a guitar instructor you believe has your learning and growth at heart.
A great instructor will have a linear plan for your progress, encourage you, celebrate your accomplishments, motivate you and be there when you are in a musical rut…and we all get in our ruts. It’s part of the process.
Learning to play guitar is much more than playing guitar. There are a lot of self realizations along the way. Why not find the best guitar instructor for you?