Guitar teachers can be of all types of personalities and back-grounds. But, what "type" makes a really great guitar teacher?
Is it the guitar teachers attitude, or their skills? Is it their knowledge, or their ability to explain complex musical topics with ease? What makes a great teacher?
There are in fact certain traits that highly successful guitar teachers (those sought-after highly competent teachers) seem to all have in common. Let's run through the traits which sit right up there at the top of the list.
EXCELLENT LISTENING SKILLS:
Have you ever tried to have a conversion with someone who was a poor listener? It is not easy. They talk over you, they half-listen to only a part of your sentences. It isn't much fun. If you have a guitar teacher who doesn't listen to you, how well do you think you'll learn from that person?
It can be even worse if the teacher just wants to talk about themselves and how spectacular their gig was over the weekend and how they met "so and so" at the bar after the gig. This can be a big issue for the student because it's a huge waste of the students time - time that is of value - time that they are paying for. Time that should be spent discussing the students concerns. But, instead is being wasted on drivel regarding a guitar teacher influence peddling their supposed greatness and posturing their need to impress.
Students are fantastic at talking, every good teacher knows this. However, the student must be given the right setting and opportunity to share where they are at. And, establishing this "setting" (for the student to open up) is actually one of the primary jobs of the teacher. A private lesson shouldn't be a lecture. It should be an open forum based upon discussing the students needs with a good rapport for communication. That way there's a far better chance of the students' needs being met
A great teacher realizes that everything in a students life affects their guitar playing because it affects their practice time. Students need several hours each week to study, and every part of their life will revolve around the success of gaining this time to work on guitar.
So, this means that the teacher needs to let the student talk, and relate where "they are at" to the teacher. This will help the teacher form a proper scope of where the play is at, and armed with this knowledge, the teacher can gain better a balance toward the next coming week of study.
What the teacher learns about the students life overall each week will allow the teacher to better form a more helpful plan to get the student learning more material into the coming week. Without excellent listening skills, the teacher cannot form the students future direction (for practice) to the maximum degree.
A CUSTOMIZED LEARNING METHOD:
No two guitar students are the same. Therefore, no two students should have the identical guitar lesson /weekly class. Each students "method" needs to evolve from where they are at as a player. Not from some generic course book that the teacher sells to earn an extra $20.00 per head. Course books can be great, but courses need to be balanced with a custom method that centers around the students interests.
Great teachers offer a plan full of suggestions and opportunities to cater specifically at what each unique student will require.
One student may want to learn more about how the fingerboard works. Another student may have a strong interest in classical guitar. Another student may want to learn an entire set of folk songs to perform at the local coffee shop. And, each of these students are going to require an entirely different learning process.
A student who loves Hard-Rock and Heavy Metal will die a slow death if they are force fed the Alfred Basic Method Guitar Book One. Instead that player needs a diet of songs from their favorite artists and bands. They need to learn techniques of that style along with scales and arpeggios that can form their future licks. they'll need to work on the application of several JamTracks in the Rock /Metal style to build phrasing and feel. This is "THEIR" course. This will be what develops them, excites them and motivates them to practice guitar all week long.
Generic, "One Method Fits All," teachers offer very little to their students. And, I'd seriously suspect that those teachers wouldn't have students for very long. Unless the only players they're teaching are under 10 yrs. of age. Little kids are pretty much the only group who would benefit from this generic method. All other students need to be offered something much more.
KNOWLEDGE AND ABILITY:
The worst teachers are those who lack skills and knowledge. The teacher who hands out a TAB and shows how to jam out the sections of the latest pop song on the radio may be good for a few months. But, if they deflect when they're asked pointed questions on music theory, composing, or advanced styles like jazz - this is a big problem.
A great guitar teacher requires a vast amount of skill. They need to be able to both demonstrate those skills and explain them effectively. And, if they can't, you should probably leave and search out another teacher. Weakness in theory, reading and stylistic knowledge is a sign that a guitarist isn't quite educated enough to be teaching professionally. Sometimes this weakness in knowledge can function when teaching children, (youngsters won't tend to have the array of pointed questions older students will have). But, aside from young children, a teacher who lacks knowledge and skills is a waste of time and money.
Guitar training on a professional level requires the knowledge of a lot of theory. Music topics can be complex and when Classical or Jazz theory comes into the lesson, a teacher should know what they are explaining. Teachers who fudge knowledge, misrepresent facts, and outright "invent" answers to theoretical subjects do a vast disservice to their students. It's terrible when a student will learn incorrect theory, fret-board knowledge and scale application. And, unfortunately it is the students responsibility to be on the look out for when or if their teacher seems caught off-guard on a subject. If this happens too often, then it is time the student stop lessons with that instructor and find a new one.
Music theory is the ammunition of a well trained guitarist. Without a solid foundation in music theory, scales, harmony, ear training and rhythm there will be giant holes in a musicians skill-set. If a teacher cannot teach this information, the student needs to begin looking around for another teacher who will.
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