Selecting a Guitar Teacher

When starting out as a beginner guitar, finding a good qualified teacher is relatively easy.  But there are a few things you should take into account before your settle on which teacher to learn from.  Here’s a list of questions you should use to evaluate if a guitar teacher is right for you.

1.)     Does the Guitar Teacher have the background to teach you the style of guitar that you want?   In the beginning any guitar is better than none, but as you progress and put in some serious study time. You want to make sure that your teacher has the background to get you to where you want to be.  That is if you want to play classical guitar at an advanced level, you are better of starting with a teacher who from the beginning works on the dynamics involved in playing the classical guitar in an advanced level.  They’ll go over the correct way to hold the classical guitar, the different method that are used to pluck the strings and the right way to finger the notes.  In short when it comes to classical try to get good solid teacher right from the beginning!

On the other hand a guitar teacher with a limited background in Jazz may be able to get you up to speed in learning Jazz, even though they themselves are not truly advanced in the Jazz style.  They should be able to tell you how to hold the guitar properly, how to pluck the strings with efficiency, and how to practise scales and chords.  If you’re lucky they’ll be able to peak your interest and begin teaching you chord voicing’s, rhythm comping and the difference between melodic, harmonic and relative minor scales.  Such teachers should freely allow you to bring in your own music books to learn from.

What I’m trying to suggest to the reader is that in the beginning it’s always best to get a teacher whose main interest is in the same music that you want to learn.  But if finding a teacher who plays the style of guitar you want is difficult, at least find one who will be honest with you about their capabilities and at least give you the foundation you need until you can find a new teacher.

2.)     Make sure the chemistry flows between you and your teacher – remember how there just some teachers in school that could really teach?  They made the lessons fun and exciting and took the time to answer all your questions.  You’ll also find guitar teachers who are the same.  Some that’ll bring out the best in your learning and some that will make you feel you stuck in “lesson limbo” where it feels you’re going nowhere! So when you meet a potential teacher, ask for a trial lesson, ask questions and remember my example.  If the chemistry is dry and you catch your teacher doodling on their own stuff on your dime.  Make a fast exit and find a teacher who cares about your learning.

3.)     If you’re lucky and found a guitar teacher whose main interest is the style that you want to learn – great!  Here’s where the time you spend researching your guitar style pays off.  Make sure your teacher really has the chops, or knowhow to teach you what you want to learn.  Ask them about some of the guitar players you learned about in our guitar styles webpages, ask them to teach you a few of the songs.  If they have the background they’ll be able to play you a couple of songs and maybe show you a couple of riffs to play around with. The extra riffs and songs will help you get through the grunt work of learning scales, arpeggios, triads and such.

4.)     If you’re paying for a professional teacher, don’t hesitate to ask about their musical educational background.  More than likely they’ll be more than willing to share their achievements with you.  If they seem like a good teacher but lack some of the educational background, then maybe you can negotiate your fees a bit.  Especially if your paying top dollar.

5.)     Great teachers should be able to give you a lesson plan that will extend out a few months or years.  This way you can keep track on your progress and you’ll have an idea of where you’re playing level should be at some time in the future.  How to succeed without a good plan?

6.)     If your set on a teacher and are ready to take lessons.  Make sure you have a black and white of the cancellation policy and any other policies or procedure.  Knowing what’s expected of you beforehand should save the both of you any disagreements in the future.

7.)     Even though a teacher may be an incredible guitar player they might not have the patience to teach.  Either that or they’re so technically advanced that they’ll get bored teaching beginner or intermediate lessons.  It’s not their fault it’s just the way it is.  So don’t fall into the notion that a great guitar player will also make you great, sometimes they just might not be that good at teaching.