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Finding the Right Teacher

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
     industry people.

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
     informed decision!

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 info@totalcontrolmusic.com. 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!!

Copyright © 2008 Total Control Music Systems
Last updated 10/13/2008