What to look for in a guitar teacher?

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RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3966
edited March 12 in Guitar
Think I am going to kick my own ass by getting a guitar teacher to get better, I just learn better that way…

So, after googling and coming up with a list in my area, what do I ask in my email apart from how much do you charge? And what do I look out for?


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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4349
    Any unspent convictions? ;)
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • merlinmerlin Frets: 1906
    "Look for" or "look out for"....?  ;)
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3966
    merlin said:
    "Look for" or "look out for"....?  ;)
    Both really! lol
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  • ArchtopDaveArchtopDave Frets: 530
    edited March 12
    You'll need to give them your estimate of what your experience is and what you know, and ideas about what areas you'd be interested in exploring.

    There is also something which you'll only discover from sitting down with them - how the two of you get on, and whether their teaching style suits you. This isn't anything to do with their musical abilities. I have, by and large, got on with most of the teachers that I've had, but I do know of people who do not like my main teacher, who is someone who has a considerable depth of music knowledge, and who is a very able guitarist.
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  • BarnezyBarnezy Frets: 296
    Can someone answer the question as to why guitar teachers constantly feel the need to remind you how good they are by noodling some ridiculous riff or solo way beyond your capabilities? Yes, I know you’re good, that’s why I’m paying you £35ph to teach me something, stop wasting my time and money showing off.

    I do get a bit tired of these competitive geek guitarists, who spent all their teen years in their bedroom playing scales, and now they feel the need to show you what they can do. No one cares. You’re in your 30’s and you’re not exactly competing with John Mayer in a debate about who’s the greatest guitarist of our generation. It’s like a Conference League player, turning up at a Sunday league match and doing keep-ups, to show how good he is compared to those around him, but never actually made it himself. 

    Sorry rant over...

    I would look for someone mature and who has a structure they follow. But it comes down to how you like to learn ultimately. For me, I want someone to sets me a task and then reviews it at the next lesson. I’ve had teachers who just wing the lessons and wouldn’t have a clue what you did the week before with them. You still might pick some things up from them, but for me it’s not progressive enough. 

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  • DominicDominic Frets: 4688
    Anybody who can actually teach and has some kind of agenda /syllabus not just haphazard lessons.
    They have to have a structured approach.
    I have a teacher who is an amazing player and great Jazz player ;he never shows off or wastes time with "impressing me" but he is a poor teacher who races ahead assuming I will automatically know a few suspensions and passing chords that fall into the flow of a tune comfortably between principal chords and loses me after a couple of bars.....I point out that I can't understand where a certain chord came from or the theoretical knowledge that spawned it and he says "don't worry that was just a substitution .......you'll figure it out "! WTF
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  • VibetronicVibetronic Frets: 408
    I teach, and I always meet people first for a chat to see if we're going to get on and so they can hopefully find out I'm not an intolerable arse  =) I always structure my lessons around what they're into, what they want to learn and what they want to do with it...with some other bits thrown in that they'll find useful (ie theory). I'd just make it very clear the sort of music you play and what you want to achieve, and hopefully they'll reply honestly - for instance I'm never going to advertise myself as a classical guitar teacher, or try and teach people that style. You'll soon be able to tell if they're bluffing it anyway, but it saves time. I think you're only going to really find out who's good by trying one or two though....see how quickly they get back to you, do they follow up lessons with notes/mp3s etc (ie I record a lot of backing tracks for people). Google reviews/testimonials on their websites can also be useful.

    Playing wise - I find a lot of time is spent talking/building confidence/encouraging/sharing experience, and I try and do as little playing as possible myself; they're not paying to hear me play. 
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  • SassafrasSassafras Frets: 14689
    Good standard of personal hygiene.
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3966
    I teach, and I always meet people first for a chat to see if we're going to get on and so they can hopefully find out I'm not an intolerable arse  =) I always structure my lessons around what they're into, what they want to learn and what they want to do with it...with some other bits thrown in that they'll find useful (ie theory). I'd just make it very clear the sort of music you play and what you want to achieve, and hopefully they'll reply honestly - for instance I'm never going to advertise myself as a classical guitar teacher, or try and teach people that style. You'll soon be able to tell if they're bluffing it anyway, but it saves time. I think you're only going to really find out who's good by trying one or two though....see how quickly they get back to you, do they follow up lessons with notes/mp3s etc (ie I record a lot of backing tracks for people). Google reviews/testimonials on their websites can also be useful.

    Playing wise - I find a lot of time is spent talking/building confidence/encouraging/sharing experience, and I try and do as little playing as possible myself; they're not paying to hear me play. 
    Thanks.

    I am looking to be proficient enough to play some music that i like, don't intend to join a band or anything like that, pure self enjoyment really.

    What do you suggest in terms of length? 30mins?  Because as much as I like an hour, i am not sure how useful that 2nd half hour is in terms of actual learning instead of sitting there practicing and i can do that without paying someone sitting there.
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  • AuldReekieAuldReekie Frets: 173
    Whatever teacher you decide on, I would say that the key to learning is practising between lessons (on a daily basis not cramming the night before a lesson) and don’t expect learning to be a smooth progress - it might take several pracitises when trying to learn something and often a feeling of little progress and then suddenly one time you go to practise it, it falls into place.  This learning cycle is true for any skill acquisition. 
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  • SnagsSnags Frets: 1338
    I've not had guitar lessons (really ought to) but based on some recent singing lessons I would say for lesson length you should go for at least 45 minutes, ideally an hour.

    30 minutes will absolutely fly by, once you've done a bit of chat, gone over your homework, picked up on new stuff etc. etc. Teaching time and practice time are very different things - you can do a hell of a lot of practice in 30 minutes, but not so much teaching/learning.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 501
    edited March 13
    Been teaching for 11 years now and I would some of the things a tutor must have are the ability to unlock your potential, not just show you things and expect you to copy parrot fashion. Someone who listens to your needs and music tastes and tailors lessons to what you want. I've seen tutors who see their weekly students at the start of the lesson they ask "right, what do you want to do today?" without planning anything. Usually if they want to learn a song they'll stick it on and then try to half-ass teach it on the fly, teaching wrong parts and writing crappy hand-written chord charts. For me if I teach a song I learn it properly and break down all the parts, do a printed chart via Sibelius, and make sure everything from the chords to the rhythm is correct to the recording. I even watch live versions.

    A good tutor will also motivate and inspire you to pick it up and practice outside of lessons and provide some structure to your learning, unlike some I've seen above who make up lessons each week with no progression/continuity. They should also be able to introduce you to new bands/artists matching your music taste. So for example, say you like a particular artist and a song b them you want to learn but its too advanced. They should be able to choose a similar artist/song but not as advanced.

    Also a good teacher will recognise your skill level to match to appropriate repertoire, so someone who's only been playing a few months can't be expected to learn the Beat It Solo, and a grade 5 standard would want something a bit more advanced than Knockin' On Heaven's Door. They will know the right things a learner needs to be working on to develop them and make progress. Simply churning out the same songs for everyone isn't the best way to cater for individual tastes.

    I also don't play much during my lessons either, merely to demonstrate and play along with the learner, and that's it. Showing off can intimidate/demotivate them. A quality tutor will save years of frustration.

    Lastly, finding someone you connect with is important, for me I'd say 9/10 people I do get on well with there's just that one small minority of person I just don't think we get on. Doesn't necessarily have to be the same age or music tastes, although it helps but someone who has a good sense of humour and keeps things simple.

    And I always do hourly lessons, 30 minutes is way too short and not worth travelling for (most of mine travel for nearly that time) and  by the time you've got in the door, had a bit of a catchup, unpacked guitars, tuned up, you've lost 10 minutes already. Add to that 5 minutes at the end to wrap and get them out, another part of the 30 minutes is lost. So all in all you're only getting 15 minutes of actual learning time.

    Try to steer clear of cheaper tutors below £25 per hour, they probably are hobbyist tutors who are only doing it for a bit of side-cash. They probably have a lot of playing experience but not so much development and teaching experience. If I'm looking for a tutor I'd be looking at £30+ per hour. You do get what you pay for in most instances. Lower quality tutors feel guilty for taking so much money of someone doing something they do that they don't class as a "profession" hence charging cheap prices.

    And I don't like tutors who solely rely on a grade syllabus or a book to teach from. Its too "one-size-fits-all" for me. A book can't tell if you're struggling with a particular section, or try to adapt to your learning style. I prefer to see the individual learner's strength's and how they learn (aural/visual etc). After all Gordon Ramsay doesn't go on YouTube to look up how to cook a meal does he?
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  • VibetronicVibetronic Frets: 408
    RaymondLin said:
    I teach, and I always meet people first for a chat to see if we're going to get on and so they can hopefully find out I'm not an intolerable arse  =) I always structure my lessons around what they're into, what they want to learn and what they want to do with it...with some other bits thrown in that they'll find useful (ie theory). I'd just make it very clear the sort of music you play and what you want to achieve, and hopefully they'll reply honestly - for instance I'm never going to advertise myself as a classical guitar teacher, or try and teach people that style. You'll soon be able to tell if they're bluffing it anyway, but it saves time. I think you're only going to really find out who's good by trying one or two though....see how quickly they get back to you, do they follow up lessons with notes/mp3s etc (ie I record a lot of backing tracks for people). Google reviews/testimonials on their websites can also be useful.

    Playing wise - I find a lot of time is spent talking/building confidence/encouraging/sharing experience, and I try and do as little playing as possible myself; they're not paying to hear me play. 
    Thanks.

    I am looking to be proficient enough to play some music that i like, don't intend to join a band or anything like that, pure self enjoyment really.

    What do you suggest in terms of length? 30mins?  Because as much as I like an hour, i am not sure how useful that 2nd half hour is in terms of actual learning instead of sitting there practicing and i can do that without paying someone sitting there.
    Yep, I'd say an hour is good as per @Lestratcaster I stick to 30 minutes for kids, when that is more than enough (apart form one teenager I've got who is ace and easily manages an hour). With adults there's more chat and more attention span. It's entirely up to you though - if you just want to soak some stuff up intensely for 30 minutes then that's fair enough :) It sounds like you have a pretty clear of what you want to do though so I'd just get meeting some people. Most offer a free initial meeting like I do, so that should give you an idea of whether you'll click and whether their style suits you.

    Price can be an indication, but check what the prices around your area are like first before judging on that. I charge the approx going rate for where I live (£25/hour) purely because if I ramped it up I'd get less custom. I'd love to, but can't really. There's a guy around here who charges a tenner more and I seriously doubt whether he's that busy, and he's not exactly offering anything I can't do (not intending to diss him, I'm sure he's a nice guy - just going on impressions from website details!). On the other hand there's a guy near here who is a seriously good jazz player and charges the same as me...so take a look. 

    I've only had a couple so far who haven't come back; one was clearly incredibly nervous, the other spent an hour and a half (!) playing his own riffs to me, asking why he was playing these notes and not listening to anything I said. I was pretty glad when he said he'd got it sorted and would actually be ok without lessons....!
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 501
    The price element is possibly a London thing as you'd do well to find a decent tutor for less than £25 per hour. I also notice as soon as I hit the £30 per hour and over mark I've been retaining learners for longer and get more serious enquiries as opposed to timewasters.

    I've had my fair share of nightmare learners too, the over-talkative ones are irritating, even an hour isn't enough! Small chit-chat is good but I prefer to just get on with the lesson otherwise we always run out of time to cover all the things we need to look at.
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  • Interesting thread. Can anyone recommend a decent guitar teacher in Oxfordshire?
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  • BellycasterBellycaster Frets: 3039
    A Wazzo pair of Jugs!
    'Ave It!
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  • breadfanbreadfan Frets: 241
    edited March 14
    .

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  • KeikoKeiko Frets: 108
    Have two or three lessons with each one and see which one gives the best value.

    Some teachers are real time wasters, and they wont tell you that in an email or over the phone. You don't want to paying for a chat about last nights football.

    A good teacher should have your lesson planned in advance in my opinion then you can get straight to it. They shouldn't be printing sheet music off, or messing around on their computer during your lesson, all time wasting.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 501
    Keiko said:
    Have two or three lessons with each one and see which one gives the best value.

    Some teachers are real time wasters, and they wont tell you that in an email or over the phone. You don't want to paying for a chat about last nights football.

    A good teacher should have your lesson planned in advance in my opinion then you can get straight to it. They shouldn't be printing sheet music off, or messing around on their computer during your lesson, all time wasting.
    This. The only chit chat I do is at the beginning, when I open the door and lead them to my teaching room. After that straight down to business. 

    All lesson notes and handouts are done ahead of the lesson ready for that 1 hour. Really annoys me when I see tutors tabbing out the song as they go.
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  • VibetronicVibetronic Frets: 408
    Keiko said:
    Have two or three lessons with each one and see which one gives the best value.

    Some teachers are real time wasters, and they wont tell you that in an email or over the phone. You don't want to paying for a chat about last nights football.

    A good teacher should have your lesson planned in advance in my opinion then you can get straight to it. They shouldn't be printing sheet music off, or messing around on their computer during your lesson, all time wasting.
    This. The only chit chat I do is at the beginning, when I open the door and lead them to my teaching room. After that straight down to business. 

    All lesson notes and handouts are done ahead of the lesson ready for that 1 hour. Really annoys me when I see tutors tabbing out the song as they go.
    too right!

    I generally find that if I think about what might piss me off if I went for a lesson - and then NOT doing that - tends to work. 

    Only interruption in my lessons is generally when a cat has hidden in the room without me knowing and then emerges mid-lesson....or brings in a mouse from outside. Still, keeps it interesting.
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3966
    Keiko said:
    Have two or three lessons with each one and see which one gives the best value.

    Some teachers are real time wasters, and they wont tell you that in an email or over the phone. You don't want to paying for a chat about last nights football.

    A good teacher should have your lesson planned in advance in my opinion then you can get straight to it. They shouldn't be printing sheet music off, or messing around on their computer during your lesson, all time wasting.

    This hits home how crap my piano teacher was, 2 years and i learned bugger all.  I think I spent far too much talking than learning.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 501
    Keiko said:
    Have two or three lessons with each one and see which one gives the best value.

    Some teachers are real time wasters, and they wont tell you that in an email or over the phone. You don't want to paying for a chat about last nights football.

    A good teacher should have your lesson planned in advance in my opinion then you can get straight to it. They shouldn't be printing sheet music off, or messing around on their computer during your lesson, all time wasting.
    This. The only chit chat I do is at the beginning, when I open the door and lead them to my teaching room. After that straight down to business. 

    All lesson notes and handouts are done ahead of the lesson ready for that 1 hour. Really annoys me when I see tutors tabbing out the song as they go.
    too right!

    I generally find that if I think about what might piss me off if I went for a lesson - and then NOT doing that - tends to work. 

    Only interruption in my lessons is generally when a cat has hidden in the room without me knowing and then emerges mid-lesson....or brings in a mouse from outside. Still, keeps it interesting.
    This is why I try to steer clear of home visits too. Usually their location isn't suitable for doing lessons, the TV's on or they have a pet who keeps coming in.
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  • riverciderrivercider Frets: 157
    Interesting thread. Can anyone recommend a decent guitar teacher in Oxfordshire?
    Maybe it would be handy to have a section here where teachers can be recommended / offer their services by geographical area, based perhaps on the experiences/knowledge of fretboarders?
    I've looked at lessons now and then - I sure need them - but its a bit random as to who is out there unless you get lucky, I suppose. Easy to chuck away money looking for a good teacher I would imagine. 
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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 6545
    edited March 14
    Home visits are a bloody nuisance for us teachers as they take up a lot of extra time in packing up gear and travel/unpack/re pack/ travel back which the student isn't that happy to pay for.

    Also in lesson conversation, inevitably reference is made to a particular song or artiste and is not always feasible to call up YTube or a saved file on your PC to investigate it.

    Yes, in addition bloody pets just make like uncomfortable - dogs jumping up at you and your gear, and incessant barking. Cat and dog hairs (I am allergic), plus is amazing how many students want to sit in soft armchairs/sofas and have no suitable stout chairs/stools. Oh and sometimes no on-site parking available and worse - you have to pay for a ticket!
    <Vintage BOSS Upgrades>
    __________________________________
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3966
    I prefer to go to the teacher personally.

    p.s. am I expected to bring my own guitar?
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 501
    57Deluxe said:
    Home visits are a bloody nuisance for us teachers as they take up a lot of extra time in packing up gear and travel/unpack/re pack/ travel back which the student isn't that happy to pay for.

    Also in lesson conversation, inevitably reference is made to a particular song or artiste and is not always feasible to call up YTube or a saved file on your PC to investigate it.

    Yes, in addition bloody pets just make like uncomfortable - dogs jumping up at you and your gear, and incessant barking. Cat and dog hairs (I am allergic), plus is amazing how many students want to sit in soft armchairs/sofas and have no suitable stout chairs/stools. Oh and sometimes no on-site parking available and worse - you have to pay for a ticket!
    Yep, people don't actually understand they're paying for more than hour if you're coming to their house, travel time, sitting in traffic and distance is a factor. And if I do a home visit I'll certainly be arriving a few minutes before to get my equipment in (as most don't have it at their house) and set up. Then there's usually some form of chat at the end which goes past the hour, then getting the equipment out of the house and back home. So in theory they're kinda paying for 2 hours.

    I try not to do visits anymore but it'll depend on how far the person is and if they have a good set up to run lessons. A couple have a proper room to do the lessons in so its not all bad. Parking is an issue for all of mine, 1 has metered bays, the other the house is in the middle of a main road, meaning turning off and parking somewhere is tricky when there's little gaps in traffic. The other one there's never any parking within 5 minutes walk of the flat, and equipment is always a pain in the arse to get up stairs.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 501
    I prefer to go to the teacher personally.

    p.s. am I expected to bring my own guitar?
    They'll have everything they need to hand as well, I can't bring my whole teaching room in my car so its difficult to provide the same sort of experience being mobile. Portable speakers and small practice amps is what I'm dealing with at the moment.

    And its a must for my learners to own their own guitar, at least to practice on at home. If they're coming from work or travelling via public transport for example then I can provide one for use in the lesson. But its much better if they have their own one they practice on and play in the lessons on so they get comfortable and used to using it.
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  • RaymondLinRaymondLin Frets: 3966
    I prefer to go to the teacher personally.

    p.s. am I expected to bring my own guitar?
    They'll have everything they need to hand as well, I can't bring my whole teaching room in my car so its difficult to provide the same sort of experience being mobile. Portable speakers and small practice amps is what I'm dealing with at the moment.

    And its a must for my learners to own their own guitar, at least to practice on at home. If they're coming from work or travelling via public transport for example then I can provide one for use in the lesson. But its much better if they have their own one they practice on and play in the lessons on so they get comfortable and used to using it.
    It’s not a problem, was just curious as to what most people do. 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 501
    I prefer to go to the teacher personally.

    p.s. am I expected to bring my own guitar?
    They'll have everything they need to hand as well, I can't bring my whole teaching room in my car so its difficult to provide the same sort of experience being mobile. Portable speakers and small practice amps is what I'm dealing with at the moment.

    And its a must for my learners to own their own guitar, at least to practice on at home. If they're coming from work or travelling via public transport for example then I can provide one for use in the lesson. But its much better if they have their own one they practice on and play in the lessons on so they get comfortable and used to using it.
    It’s not a problem, was just curious as to what most people do. 
    I never understand people who expect to do lessons without their own guitar to practice on, as the only time you'd get to play is in your lesson. Most of your "learning" actually falls outside of lesson times.
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  • Interesting thread. Can anyone recommend a decent guitar teacher in Oxfordshire?
    Maybe it would be handy to have a section here where teachers can be recommended / offer their services by geographical area, based perhaps on the experiences/knowledge of fretboarders?
    I've looked at lessons now and then - I sure need them - but its a bit random as to who is out there unless you get lucky, I suppose. Easy to chuck away money looking for a good teacher I would imagine. 
    That would be great. I’m really surprised there’s not already a section on here for it. 
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