Last week I had lunch with a classmate who was a close friend during my growing up years. I was reminded of how much an inspiration he was to me after I first heard him play at elementary school. And reminiscing about our journey as kids trying to learn how to play guitar, I remembered how excited I was to figure out a top 40 hit or a riff from some player I really liked. As a raw beginner, it was so challenging to try and understand how the song went, not to mention the difficulty of figuring out the chord voicing and whether or not a capo was being used, or if the guitar was de-tuned, or even something more foreign to my fledgling ears. [Read more…]
It’s called The Guitar Owner’s Manual and it covers just about every aspect of owning an acoustic guitar, including a few complex repairs.
But don’t confuse this with an official repair manual or detailed setup guide. It’s mainly intended for the owner who wants to learn more about their coveted instrument and how to enhance the playability of it. [Read more…]
Well, with a few exceptions, the right teacher (there are a lot of ways to define this role) is needed at least for a season, to help a student become a competent musician and possibly a world-class player. I do know I benefited early on from seeking the advice of teachers that could expand my thinking and get me to look at things I hadn’t thought of before; still seeking after that.
We already know that there are many sources for learning the guitar; books, instructional videos, CD-ROMS and the internet; a good teacher can be a great source to help an aspiring player wade through all the guitar methods, but also help them discover how the gift of music might unlock their potential as a player.
A good guitar teacher, like a good coach, possesses a unique set of skills that enables them to get the most out of that person sitting across from them with a guitar in their hands.
These qualifications might be less specific and more philosophical, but should get us thinking about how we want to be handled, or how we want our child to be handled as a student; and probably important enough to include when evaluating a teacher’s credentials in the interview process. The prospective guitar teacher should communicate and demonstrate something that goes beyond out and out skill in being able to play a guitar.
The Right Teacher…
- Can clearly communicate methods, concepts, and techniques in a number of ways to any learning style.
- Look for how the teacher communicates with the new student. Do they come across as patient and can they articulate musical concepts and ideas in a way that will be easy to understand?
- Is less concerned with their own reputation or status, but sees themselves as learners. I believe the best teacher is the best student.
- The teacher may have a great resume, but they might be more interested in promoting themselves rather than being concerned with what’s best for the student.
- Will be focused on the student’s success.
- The teacher should have a significant interest in what the student’s goals are, and desire to come up with ways to help them achieve those goals.
- Can answer specific questions when a concept is unclear.
- Good skill demonstrated in being able to explain a concept in a number of different ways is important here.
- Will handle the student with grace and dignity
- Can offer advice on playing by listening and pointing out mistakes or flaws.
- Can help develop specific interests and abilities.
- Can encourage the student toward creativity and excellence.
- Will help the student effectively manage practice time and develop good practice habits (which is crucial).
- Most students need help with this, because there are a lot of ways to practice effectively. The student who will practice on their own is typically in the minority. See the article on Practicing here.
- Will consistently build student confidence.
- Sometimes, unintentionally, the teacher may become a life coach; they need to be able to skillfully encourage to help boost confidence.
- Will push the student to learn more challenging skills, taking them far beyond what they might learn on their own.
- To not only see the potential in a player, but to spur them on to greater accomplishments is a wonderful gift to give.
- Understands that they may not be the best choice as a teacher for every student.
- I may say something like, “While I am a guitar teacher, I may not be your teacher.” Historically, this one statement has helped more people make a wise decision about whether or not to take lessons from me.
In the next article, we’ll come up with a Teacher Profile that you can hand out in the student/parent interview.
Until next time…
For those of you who teach or aspire to it, I’ve compiled a sampling of forms that I’ve built over the years which may help you organize your teaching business a little more. If you’re a player, you may benefit as well.
Most forms were created as the need arose and have helped me manage the who, what, and where of teaching. Please feel completely free to cut and paste or customize for your own use. These are simply available to help you build your effectiveness as a teacher… or player.
If you’d like a copy of any form in it’s original format, just let me know. I’ll be glad to send it your way. If you’re looking for something that you don’t see here or think something can be improved, please let me know. A little collaboration is always good. Until next time…
In no particular order: [Read more…]
Working on the craft of song writing doesn’t routinely include a rewrite, but a careful evaluation of the created work can go a long way toward making a good song that will stand the test of time. Take the opportunity to honestly measure and analyze your piece before releasing it to the world. [Read more…]