Finding The Right Teacher

I have been teaching since 1989, and I can tell you, when I first started teaching, I wasn’t very good at it!

It isn’t that I didn’t have the knowledge. I did. I had been playing guitar for many years. But what I learned over time is that knowing something doesn’t mean you can teach it. I became a better teacher over time because all of my students taught me!

You may have found a friend or family member who plays guitar and asked them to teach you. Maybe it worked out, but chances are it didn’t. Maybe you gave up because of that experience. Unless your teacher has taught before, don’t expect them to know what they’re doing. Teaching is a SEPARATE knowledge from the ability to play.

I always recommend that you interview teachers before you decide to go for it. Here are some things to consider:

  1. What kind of music do you want to play? Do you want to play blues riffs? Jazz guitar? Do you just want to learn to play some of your favourite songs for yourself or around the campfire? Or maybe you’re interested in classical music. Most teachers cannot teach all of these genres, and specialize in one or two of these areas. Just ask!
  2. Teachers who teach out of music stores aren’t necessarily better because of their place of employment. Lots of teachers teach privately. Look on craigslist or usedvictoria (or whatever city you are in). Do a Google search for guitar teachers in your area. Ask friends. Word of mouth is a great way to find someone good.
  3. Some cities and towns have recreation programs that include guitar classes. Again, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the best teacher, but sometimes learning in a group is a little less intimidating, and even more fun because you’re learning with others.
  4. Some teachers have a set agenda on how and what they want to teach you. Others make it more your decision. My method is to give everyone a list (and it’s a huge one!) of every song that I teach. I get them to pick out songs they are interested in and write down anything they’re interested in learning that isn’t on the list. But for absolute beginners, I usually have a couple of songs that I start with just to give a new student some basics. Ask the teacher how she/he teaches when you first interview them.
  5. There are teachers out there who are willing to come to your home, but be prepared to pay a little extra for that. And speaking of payment, as with anything, cheaper isn’t always the best. Look around at a few prices to get a sense of what the going rate is. And ask what their cancellation policy is too.

You should know within about a month whether or not guitar is for you. And if it’s not, that’s okay! We all have to put our toes in the water first to check it out! Your teacher should not try and commit you to more than that at the beginning. So when you first meet, mention that you’d like to try it out for a month to see if it’s a good fit. That way, if you’re not comfortable or happy with the teacher, you can find someone else.

And I want to emphasize that again. Not all teachers are created equal! I hope for you to have a good experience, but if you have a bad one, please don’t give up! Playing guitar should be a very joyful part of your life.

Good luck!


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