Thursday, June 5, 2014

How to Find a Good Guitar Teacher by Shawn Persinger

How To Find a Good Guitar Teacher: Advice for Absolute Beginners by Shawn Persinger

When seeking a qualified instructor to help you with the basics, make sure you ask a few key questions during a polite but pointed interview. Here are some questions you should ask and some ballpark responses a conscientious teacher should have.

  • How long have you been playing?10-plus years.” There are exceptions of course, but 10 years is a good place to start.

  • How long have you been teaching?Five-plus years.” I know from personal experience it took me at least five years to become a halfway-decent instructor.

  • Do you have a set method or does your approach depend on the individual student?The approach depends on the student.” A teacher with a set method assumes everyone learns the same way. This is not true.

  • How long will it take me to play a song? A tricky one. I can teach almost anyone to “play” a four-chord song in a single one-hour lesson. But to make it sound like a real song with changes at tempo, clean execution of chords, and perhaps some melodies thrown in, can take up to two, even three, months. And that is with the student committing to 20 minutes a day, four days a week of practice time.

  • What styles do you teach? The instructor should teach the style you want to learn. If you want to study rock, blues, metal or folk guitar, do not go to a jazz teacher! But if you want to learn jazz, avoid your local metalhead unless you know for sure he/she can play “I Got Rhythm,” “Autumn Leaves,” and “All Blues.”

  • Do you give handouts?Yes.”

  • Do you use tablature or standard notation?I teach and use both, depending on the student’s needs.”

  • Do you teach songs, theory, or technique?All three.”

Don’t be afraid to ask these questions of any teacher – from the private instructor with a good reputation working out of his own studio to the guitarist teaching at the local music store. A good teacher won’t be insulted by these questions and will appreciate the fact that you have thought your lessons needs through.
One final bit of advice for beginners: Start your guitar journey by learning songs you like, and the chords they contain. Scales, theory, etudes, and so on all have long-term value but they can come later, in the context of your favorite tunes. Learning a song will inspire you to practice more than any exercise will. So pick a few songs, then start learning the chords and strum patterns. Songs are the foundation of a good guitar education.

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