Choosing the Right Guitar Teacher
So, you want to learn to play the guitar…
It is one of life’s challenges which pays back in large creative dividends. Not necessarily the easiest of endeavors, but the greater the fortitude, the greater the player. I even had a student who, at one time was a Navy Seal, told me that learning how to play the guitar was the most difficult undertaking he had experienced! Nonetheless, it’s different for everyone and you will have your own unique reality in studying guitar. In my one of my last blogs I did a brief overview regarding discovering the right instrument, practice and finding a guitar teacher, the latter of which I’ll now go into greater depth.
Years ago, before the digital age, the Philadelphia neighborhood mom and pop music store was a commonality in many areas, offering a unique hang for many aspiring musicians. Sad to say, but the advent of modern technology has all but vanquished many of those venues. However, as time has gone on there are more guitar teachers and instructors than ever, many of them, if not teaching at a local music store, instruct from their own homes. Of course there is the amazing potential of learning online. I recommend the newbie aspiring guitar/music student to study from a qualified guitar instructor until they have enough fundamentals, technique, repertoire, understanding of the instrument and subject of music that they can successfully study on their own and make sense of it all. If nothing else, a good instructor, unlike a computer terminal or smart phone, will at minimum give enough feedback so the student doesn’t develop poor or detrimental playing habits which will need to be corrected down the line.
Not All Guitar Teachers are Created Equally
There are as many approaches to teaching guitar as there are human beings doing the teaching; everyone is different. Many instructors use tablature or even just take an aural approach (of or relating to the ear or to the sense of hearing). Some will focus on the visual aspect of the guitar, relating to the shapes which lie across the fretboard. All of these have their own merit. The tried and true traditional approach of reading music does as well, one which I particularly enjoy along with the others and as the fundamental because it allows me to teach my students to fish, rather than giving them a fish each week.
In choosing the right guitar teacher in Philadelphia you will need to make some decisions as to your goals and purposes.
- What kinds of music would you ultimately like to learn to play?
- What kinds of guitars would you like to play?
- Are you open to learning styles and about artists and their repertoire of which you are unfamiliar?
It would also be advantageous to do some homework online or through magazines and learn about the approaches I described above: tablature, aural, visual reading music, etc. and ask any qualified guitarists you may know about them.
Then there’s the instructor him/herself. Have they actually studied and are they competent as a player AND an instructor? Are college-taught guitar teachers better than those who haven’t had the university experience? My answer is probably, but most importantly it will come down to how professional, able and knowledgeable they are, how well they can impart that and how the two of you actually connect and relate with each other. Look around, see who is in the area. You are making an important investment of your time and energy. Remember, this is an activity you’re doing for you. It should be fun – something done because you don’t have to do it, you WANT to do it! Choose well and most importantly, enjoy yourself!