How many times have I heard someone say,"Oh, I'll teach myself -- it can't be
that hard!" or "My friend at school is going to teach me -- it doesn't matter!"
And every time, I groan inside, and shake my head and try to explain...
Choosing a teacher is one of the most important musical decisions
you will ever make!
Think about it: If you are a beginner, how do you know what it is that you
don't know? And, for potential students at any level, how do you know whether
or not someone can actually teach? Or what you, in your particular situation
need to learn?
So, here's my little guide to finding the right teacher for you.
1. Ask questions!! There are no stupid questions. The only thing that's
dumb is not asking! How much teaching experience does your
prospective teacher have? Does he/she know, and respect the kind
of music that you want to learn? (There is nothing more disheartening
than having your teacher be contemptuous of the music you love, or
try to convince you that you should learn another kind of music instead.)
Where will your lessons be held -- what kind of space, etc.. Will the teacher
give you and your lesson total focus, or will he say, "Just practice this for
a minute," and then talk on the phone to his girlfriend for half an hour?
These are things you need to know -- they are crucial to your learning
process in this most important area of study, and to what you will get out
of your lessons. So ask questions -- lots of questions -- anything that
pops into your head when you are thinking about taking lessons or talking
to a prospective teacher!!!!
2. Be sure that the teacher can teach. Almost everyone (especially among
guitarists) who can play will decide at some point to pad out their playing
income by doing a little teaching on the side. Unfortunately, the ability to
play well, even amazingly well, does not translate into the ability to teach!!
They require totally different knowledge, skills and abilities!!. For example,
I have known any number of incredibly good guitarist, talented people, who
have spent years perfecting their playing abilities. They can do it. But, ask
them how they do it, and they are clueless -- that is not what they have
been paying attention to. But if someone is going to teach you, they must
not only understand how it's done -- broken down in as much detail as
possible, they must also be able to explain it to you, to show you how it's
done, to observe what you do as your lessons progress (which will change
over time) and be able to tell you in detail how to change your practicing to
improve your playing abilities.
3. Be sure that you will be learning technique and good playing habits.
If you ask your prospective teacher, for example, how to hold your
instrument, or your pick, and the answer is either, Oh, it doesn't matter!"
or "Whatever is comfortable!", look out! The truth is, these things matter
a great deal, and the fact that your favorite Rock Star plays amazing
stuff with horrible technique doesn't mean that you will be able to! Or
that your hero wouldn't play even more amazing stuff with better technique!
4 Ask for references. Most good teachers will have endorsements from
former students, owners or employees of music stores or other music
5. Take a trial lesson or two. Any reputable teacher will allow you to take
one lesson with no further obligation. This allows you to experience what
you will be getting into if you sign up for the long haul -- you'll experience
the teacher's teaching space, ways of explaining things, and personality,
all of which will have a profound effect on your lessons. And don't be afraid
to take sample lessons from several teachers, so that you can make an
So, that's my little list. If you have any other questions about finding a teacher
or lessons, or anything, please feel free to call me at 347-240-6613, or shoot me
an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also send me an e-mail by
using the form on the Contact Us page on this website. Whether you decide to
study with me or not, I'm happy to help you with your music learning process!!