Most Guitar Teachers Struggle Teaching This...

Should you just sign up with any old guitar teacher who's available, or should you take a slow controlled approach to choosing the best possible guitar teacher if you want to study guitar with a private instructor?

In this post, I’m going to show you the best ways that you can use to scope out a guitar teacher and how to get the most from the money that you'll spend on your lessons.

I’m going to break out the experience of my 26 years in this business with all kinds of examples head to head so you can make sure that you don’t waste any of your money or time with guitar teachers that are inferior.

I want to share with you, some experiences that I’ve had over the years when employing guitar instructors at my studio.


Back in the mid-1990’s I was running Creative Guitar Studio with two locations and during that period I was an employer to seven guitar instructors.

One of the things that I started to notice from the opportunities that I had to sit down and interact with the students in my school, (students who were not my own personal students), happened to be that some students never received a proper initial lesson that was focused on covering the most basic principles for learning the guitar.

This would more specifically be the topic areas of; hand and body sitting position with the guitar, as well as, a effective practice philosophy.

And, it wasn't only just sitting position and hand /finger position, but also the angle of the wrist and the arm, as well as, how the body needs to become relaxed and how the player needs to adopt their own practicing philosophies as they begin setting aside the; hours, weeks, months and years of practicing guitar.

If this sounds like an area that you’ve never been properly instructed on, and if this seems like it’s a guitar playing topic that you need to learn more about, then that's good.

We’re going to discuss a collection of these ideas so that you can go forward as a guitar student and have a solid foundation for many, many years of excellent guitar practice.

The first area that students need to become familiar with is Hand Position for the fretting hand, (watch the video clip below).

Hand Posture and Position:

When I had a group of teachers working under me, and I started to realize that a lot of new students were having difficulty with a number of their basic playing ideas, I decided to start implementing a new student “Initial Lesson” technique program.

I never really gave many teaching rules to my employees, but I did start asking them to begin every new student’s very first class with a hand and body sitting and playing position technique lesson. To my surprise, almost half of my employees were quite negative about doing this... Which surprised me!

I think that part of the problem comes from how a lot of guitar teachers I’ve met are sadly just teaching to collect the fees at the end of the month.

I’ve even had one guitar teacher that I knew years ago say to me that they hated teaching, and all they do through their sessions with a student is they watch the clock for when the session is over. And, they cannot wait till their teaching sessions are all through.

So, the last thing that a teacher with that attitude will do is examine the learning curve of their students and try to notice what is working and what isn’t. Instead, they have themselves more concerned with wrapping up their classes and leaving the music studio at days end.

As you could imagine, that won’t help a student all too much – in fact it might even cause the student to quit. Hopefully, they’ll quit and find a new teacher, but the thing is that the student might quit guitar altogether.

What causes a teacher to struggle with their teaching approach? …And, is there anything that a student can do to help themselves in a situation where their guitar teacher acts as though teaching is more of an inconvenience rather that something they enjoy?

The main thing that a student needs to pay a lot of attention to is their first guitar lesson. What happens at that first class will be a good indication of what’s to come in the weeks ahead.

In my first class with a new student here at Creative Guitar, I like to find out as much as I possibly can about what the student knows at that moment. And, I always like to give them handouts, including; fingerboard note layouts, chord booklets (for the basic open and first position chords).

I also like to give new students a key signatures overview, plus I like to handout a simple scales sheet, and we’ll do several basic tests together as well.

Doing those topics will go a long way to help me figure out what kind of knowledge that a student has for; scales, guitar theory, general musical concepts and rhythm.

On the second lesson, we do a technique class covering everything about general guitar sitting positions and hand posture, as well as, wrist and arm - body posture.

After that, our guitar classes will start following the general interests of the student. But, by that point in time they’ll have all of the important foundation aspects taken care of. 

In wrapping up, let me end things off with a shortlist of 10 things that a guitar instructor should be doing for you and with you so that you’ll get the most out of the lessons.

1). First, they need to be assessing you. From the initial class, they should be like a detective. Wanting to know where you’re knowledge and skills are at.

2). Second, they should be helping you with your posture and your sitting position so that it is the most comfortable.

3). The teacher needs to understand what you want to do and where your interests are at, and they should be designing a program for you.

4). Fourth is handouts. You really should be getting something on paper to go home with. And, having a recording of the lesson is also very important. That includes Jam Tracks.

5). The fifth idea is that the guitar teacher needs to teach you how to practice. Nobody is born knowing how to practice an instrument and to learn that skill is going to be critical for your success rate.

6). Sixth is all about offering you plenty of options for learning about any topic you want to study. Good teachers will be able to generally give you lot’s of suggestions for the most effective study of any topic. Whether that’s songs or practice material.

7). Next is attendance. A teacher who takes their teaching quite seriously, will hardly ever cancel on you. If the teacher is cancelling quite often, it might be best to search out a new instructor.

8). The eighth idea is organization. An organized teacher is like gold! You’ll learn material much faster and the learning curve will be much more efficient.

9). Number 9 is testing. Good teachers will tend to push you, and they will get you to perform for them in class once in awhile.

10). Finally, number ten is inspiration. Good teachers tend to be quite inspiring people who are well-read. They have interesting stories, friendly personalities and they will often have a great knowledge base for; music, musicians and for other areas like guitar history.



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