A common misconception amongst students wanting to take up playing the guitar is that guitar teachers are a commodity. When looking for a teacher, I find that potential students usually have the same sort of questions:
- How far away are you?
- How much are lessons?
- How long will it take me to learn guitar?
Now, these are good questions that you do want to know the answers to, but before asking these questions, you need to ask yourself:
What is it I am trying to accomplish?
How is a guitar teacher going to help me accomplish that?
And now you will know what it is that you need to be asking potential teachers.
For example, let’s say that you are wanting to learn to play your favourite rock songs, by The Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, etc (this is just an example – I teach students with a wide musical taste). Does asking your potential teacher how much they charge and where they are help you determine their ability to ensure that you reach a level with the guitar where you can play those songs?
No. Whether a teacher costs £5 an hour, or £50 an hour; is next door to you or 100 miles away; this information does not help you determine how quickly you will learn in their classes nor does it give you any information as to whether or not you will progress in classes.
So what sort of questions can you ask a teacher to determine if they are capable of helping you?
1. Do you plan our classes in advance?
The majority of guitar teachers plan classes lesson by lesson. Some don’t even do that and will ask you what you want to learn when you turn up to the class. Can you imagine going to university and having your lecturer ask you what you want to learn that class? You would not get very far! And this is exactly why most guitar students do not get very far.
A good answer to this question is when the teacher plans classes out over several years, ensuring that you have a reliable, congruent and effective path to becoming the guitar player that you want to be.
2. Do you set goals for your students?
The majority of guitar teachers do not even set goals for themselves, let alone their students. When you have a goal, you have a direction. You know what you are working towards. You know you are on track. When you reach the goal, we know that everything is working and we can set a new one. If you do not reach the goal, we know that your learning strategy needs to be adjusted, so that you can reach the next goal.
If you have no goals, then you have no direction, and it will take you a very long time to get anywhere.
3. What is your philosophy to teaching?
A good teacher will have a specific philosophy behind how their classes are structured and their approach to teaching guitar. For example, our philosophy behind classes is that we want to mould our students into not just being high quality guitar players, but to also be creative and high quality musicians.
The majority of guitar teachers create “parrots”, students that can repeat a specific exercise. We train our students on becoming musicians, able to take the new skills and theory that they learn, adapt it, apply it to other musical scenarios and integrate it with their existing skill sets.
We want all our students to work to having total musical and creative freedom on their instrument.
4. Will you teach me something new each lesson?
The majority of guitar teachers will enthusiastically answer “Yes!” to this. But it is a trick question The majority of students do not need to know 1000 chords, they need to know 10 chords and be highly effective and confident at using those 10 chords.
5. What format will you be teaching me in?
There are two standard types of guitar lesson:
- The one-on-one lesson
- The group class
And here is how those lessons usually go:
The one-on-one lesson
You turn up. The teacher pulls out a song, or prints a bit of a scale off the internet, you start (trying to) play through it. You go home, practice it, turn up the next week and something new happens.
The group class
Usually a mixed ability. You turn up, the teacher gives everyone a song to learn… everyone struggles with it, goes home, then quits playing guitar 4 weeks later.
The above scenarios assume you don’t get a teacher that talks for 30 minutes each class about how miserable his life is!! (This is a serious complaint I get from several students when they talk about past teachers).
At Uxbridge Guitar Lessons, we are one of the few guitar schools in the country using an advanced training format that we have refined from experience and also expert consultation with some of the greatest guitar teachers around the globe. To find out more about out how we train our students into becoming the guitar players that they want to be contact us today.
So there you have some good questions to ask a potential guitar teacher, to help you work out if they are the right teacher for you.