By: Tom Clark
Choosing the right guitar teacher for you can be a pretty tricky process, and having gone through this struggle myself I thought I would share my top 3 tips on choosing a guitar teacher that will help you reach your goals, get you learning and having fun quickly, and most importantly monitoring your progress on a regular basis.
It was quite hard to fit all the ideas into 3 tips so don’t hesitate to ask me any questions if you have some unsolved problems.
With so many budding guitarists knowing that teaching guitar offers them a way to earn some cash, brush up on their skills and get some local recognition, there are sometimes so many guitar teachers in your local area that it’s hard to pick out the one for you.
We all have to start somewhere as a guitar teacher, and it can be a very steep learning curve for some of us when we teach our very first student.
It can also be hard for the student/parent of students to decide on a teacher when many teachers are so young.
Tip 1- Go with recommendations from people you know
There is no better way to minimize the risk of getting a bad guitar teacher than asking someone you know who has been learning guitar with a professional guitar teacher.
Use social networks to ask about, using a status such as “Does anyone know of any good guitar teachers in ‘insert your town/city here’ because I am ready to start learning guitar.”
You will be surprised with how many people come out of the woodwork and have some valuable information to offer.
Ask them what they like about the lessons and the teacher, and how they feel their progress is coming along.
Find out if the teacher is available to travel to your home or if he or she is based at a location that you will have to travel to.
From my experience of teaching hundreds and hundreds of lessons, many families like the convenience of having a teacher come to their home on time, every time so they don’t have to rush around the city dragging the kids around behind them.
This can work really well for some parents because they often have their children involved in a lot of extra curricular activities and time is precious, so traveling is not what they want.
However for some families it is not so desirable to have a teacher come to visit them for the lessons because they don’t have the space, or they have a partner that works from home, intolerant neighbors…. the list goes on.
Tip 2- Does the teacher offer you an introductory lesson at a lower price and what is the hourly rate?
If you can find a guitar teacher that offers a first lesson half-price, then this is really good and shows that he or she has confidence that you will like the lessons and stay on.
You will find that some tutors even offer a first lesson free, this is helpful if you want to try out a few tutors and decide which you like best.
Due to so many players wanting to ‘try before they buy’ the free lesson offer is not so commonly found.
If you are adamant about having a free session before you purchase your first lesson, then it is worth calling the teacher and telling them that a free lesson is the make or break decision for them.
You may get lucky and the guitar teacher will be as kind as to grant this for you.
Be aware of how much the lessons cost and if you can make a saving by pre-paying for a certain amount of lessons.
I have loads of students that prefer to pay for 4 or 5 lessons and save 10% in doing so, because they know they themselves or their kids are enjoying themselves and wish to continue.
Price is a key issue for many students and parents of students when considering a tutor and with an increase in money saving mommies, you may be tempted to pick the cheapest you can find.
You may well find a teacher who charges just $20 an hour and is great for you but the reality is usually that a teacher who charges this little is desperate for work and is fresh in the industry.
Today an average teacher is charging $35 an hour, and I believe that unless you have some serious credentials behind you as the teacher, charging $60 and up per an hour is unfair.
However, if money is not the issue then I would recommend only avoiding the $20 and under per an hour teachers, and looking into other tips mentioned here to guide you.
Tip 3- During your first lessons take notice to how much you as the student walks away with.
I look back to lessons I was taught when I was just starting out as a kid and I see how many times I really wasn’t given enough guidance, and would leave the lesson with no greater knowledge and no understanding of what to be practicing during the week.
Both of these things are clear indicators that either your teacher is not focusing on you, or that perhaps you as the student are not listening enough.
One thing I recommend that guitar teachers will hate is that the parent comes and sits in on a lesson to observe what goes on.
This is useful to the tutor in cases when the child is under 9 or particularly shy and takes instructions best off their parent.
It is not a guitar teachers’ dream setting because it makes the lesson more pressured, but I have seen the benefit when a parent can relate well with the child and get the best results from them whilst using your knowledge.
If you walk away with new knowledge after your first lesson then you should be happy.
If your child is excited about the idea of playing guitar then it would seem your teacher has done a good job at the first lesson.
As a guitar teacher, I have learned that the key is not to always just give the information that you know will make them great players in the long run, but to get the player excited about the instrument and the prospect of becoming part of one of the coolest things to do in the world.