Finding a Qualified Guitar Teacher

Some helpful hints

Finding a Qualified Guitar Teacher

Some helpful hints

Finding a Qualified Guitar Teacher

Some helpful hints

Finding a Qualified Guitar Teacher

Some helpful hints

Looking for a guitar teacher, but not sure how to find one who is qualified?
Here are a few things to consider.

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Cartoon of guitar and sheet music.

Lessons from a friend?

Your friend may, indeed play very well, but beyond learning a few licks or chords you could develop poor techniques, which will be difficult to unlearn. Remember that we can only teach what we know, and unless your friend has experience teaching as well as playing, you could be learning in a manner which could actually cause a delay in your progress, and in extreme cases, injuries because of poor playing techniques.

Lessons from someone in a music store?

A music store's primary purpose is to sell instruments not teach how to play them. There are many reputable store owners who try to provide the best experience they can for the student. But there are problems over which they often have little to no control.
  • Floor space in a store is very expensive per square foot.
    • This can lead to very small teaching areas with cramped stuffy conditions where moving around is difficult.
    • In such a small space you could be quite close to a teacher with a cold or flu.
    • He or she could be a smoker.
    • There often is no room to keep your guitar case or hang a jacket.
    • Bad breath?
  • Sometimes a teacher may be pressured by the store owner to gently encourage a student to upgrade his/her guitar.
  • Many times teaching is not the primary source of of the teacher's income, and as soon as you guys hit it off, he will leave to play a gig on the road.
  • A teacher may be hired by the store because he is a good customer and plays well, rather than because of his outstanding teaching experience.
  • College students often teach part-time for a little income. They may not have the experience or knowledge to help you learn at your quickest pace, with the best possible techniques for you.
There are some stores that are very interested in hiring and keeping good teachers. Some don't expect their teachers to be sales people. This type of store is unfortunately rare. It is not easy to be a music-store owner and run a profitable school. It is just too tempting to use students as pawns in the game of trying to increase traffic through the store.

How about an Adult Education Class?

Don't expect much from this class. Teachers will often teach adult classes at senior-centers or adult-learning programs. These usually only last for a couple of months, and they are a good way for a teacher to woo prospective students into taking private lessons. You can however, use these courses to your advantage to get a grasp on a teacher's teaching style and qualifications. Just don't expect to learn much beyond the most elementary things.

Is there a college or university in your area?

Often a good source of referrals is a local college. Sometimes the guitar teacher affiliated with that school will take on private students. Be careful, however, for some teachers like to give their overflow to advanced students. They may be good players, but will they make a good teacher?

Is there a classical guitar society in your area?

"But," you say, "I don't want to play classical guitar." One thing about learning classical guitar, you will probably learn correct techniques. But even if you don't take lessons from a classical guitar teacher, he/she can often refer you to someone who is qualified to help you in the style you wish to learn.

Referral from your local high-school music teacher?

Music teachers in your local school system quite often know of a qualified guitar teacher in your area.

If you find someone promising, what should you ask?

  • How long has she been teaching?
  • How many students does she have?
  • Ask about her formal music education.
  • Ask for a few references.
  • Call them.
  • Don't be shy about asking her to play something. Keep in mind, however that she is not there to give you a concert.
  • Ask about her teaching methods?Don't sign up for any long-term contracts right away.
Ask if you could pay per lesson, or at least pay only for a month of lessons. A month is usually long enough to evaluate whether you and she are a good match. If you have established a good relationship, and if she will offer you a significant rate reduction for a long-term (a semester or so) contract, you might wish to take advantage of the savings.