When beginning guitar lessons, practice is everything, but learning from someone knowledgeable is important too. A guitar teacher shows you how to play, what to practice, and gives you hands-on advice right when you need it the most.
A good instructor can stop your bad habits before they ruin your playing, adjust your position or style to keep your music sounding good years into the future, and give you new ways to learn fast.
But with a poor teacher, you could be stuck making the same mistakes forever and struggling to pick up techniques you could have mastered with a different approach.
So choosing a guitar lesson teacher is important: How do you do it? While a lot depends on your circumstances and what you want to learn, here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Find someone experienced in your style
Study not only what a music teacher tells you, but also their history in the business. What bands have they played with, and styles are they known for?
Accept no broad statements. If you want to learn blues and learn it fast, find a teacher who has been playing blues all of their life. If you want to learn shredding techniques for lead and metal groups, find a teacher who matches that direct, rock-oriented style. Look at their guitars, their music degrees, and their private work for more hints. If a teacher keeps their music history private, move on to someone else.
2. Pay for lessons with a real teacher
Someone can be remarkably skilled at the guitar, but have no talent in teaching others. You do not need to watch someone show off, you need to watch someone who can show you how to play a chord and then start giving great practice tips and adjusting your fingerholds.
Again, the key here is a quality conversation. Talk to a teacher and learn about the other guitar beginners they teach. What problems do they run into? How do they approach beginner lessons? What solutions can they provide to make practice easier?
The answers to these questions, no matter what they are, will give you valuable clues about the teaching skills the instructor has. Never be impressed by performance alone.
3. Look for inspiration
The most important factor in learning guitar remains practice. Unfortunately, practice occurs apart from lessons, when your teacher is not there to encourage you. This can make it easy to give up too early and learn slowly. What you need is a guitar lesson teacher who can inspire you long after the lesson is finished.
If qualifications are equal, choose the teacher who appears to be more encouraging – the one you want to impress, the one you know really cares. In the long run, this will help you learn the best.
4. Find someone who uses social media
In today’s modern world, there is no reason why a music teacher should not offer some kind of online presence. They should at least have an email address where you can send questions and updates for your lessons.
A social media page you can like and join a community of students would be even better.
Alongside an online presence, a competent teacher will have a website or two where you can find online music, extra resources, and additional advice. A guitar teacher who does not use social media and online resources is not someone you want when lessons only occur on a weekly basis. Daily lessons offer more flexibility in this department.
5. The devil is still in the details
Look at the lesson plans, and ask for specific techniques. While a good guitar teacher will say that teaching strategies differ with every student, a skilled teacher will also be able to instantly produce key lessons and effective techniques that are proven to work.
These details show experience and understanding of how people learn to play. If you want to dig even deeper, ask teacher why playing guitar is so great, and make sure they have the philosophy to back their lessons up.
Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes for Jamplay.com. JamPlay is a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ guitar songs online in HD.