How do you choose the right music teacher for you?
I would like to share my experience with three guitar teachers. When I first started learning guitar, I went through 3 guitar teachers in 3 years, with a break in between. Hopefully my story can help inform you on your decision to choose the right teacher for you:
- My first guitar teacher - Felipe - started me off with learning Ronan Keating’s “When You Say Nothing At All”. I jumped straight into bar chords and got blisters on my fingers. He reassured: “It is all part of the playing”. I was inspired, and he later taught me the Beatles and Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven. I kept asking him for more and more, and he taught me all the way up to the solo. Through total immersion, this guitar teacher always paved the next step for me in terms of songs, until one day he said: “I can’t teach you anymore. I don’t know how to play this solo”. To this day, he is still not really a guitar player, but is an expert at the keyboard instead. But he was my first inspiration, for it was through his sister that I found out about Jimi Hendrix. I was hooked, and wanted to be like Jimi.
- My second guitar teacher – Paul - listened to me play Stairway To Heaven, and said: “You’re pretty advanced”. He then pursued to educate me on Audioslave and Pearl Jam, which I really did enjoy. The power of the riff was just my next step. This guitar teacher then challenged me to solo over chord changes. Man I sounded so bad, and couldn’t understand the concepts he was going through. The 6th of A major is F#?! I was only 13 and wanted to rock out! When he started teaching sheet music, I thought it was a little bit much. Due to a change in extra curricula, we parted ways.
- My third guitar teacher – Leon - was not very technical. In fact, most of the time he just listened to me. But he always seem to make things fun. We learned Star Wars, Kool And The Gang, even Van Halen. I was hooked on double handed tapping when I first listened to Hot For Teacher. It was the range of techniques that I learned from this teacher that I would remember most, for it was set in a practical context. And he always had a smile on his face.
I thank all three of them for the impact they had on my life.
Keep in mind, all of these names are pseudonyms. One of them is my dad!
When you are first looking for your first music teacher, or at your first trial lesson, you have to ask yourself one question:
Do you understand what he/she is talking about?
We often forget as teachers that students are sometimes not on the same wavelength. It could be mood, cognitive load, or a bit of both.
An excellent teacher knows how to communicate the right stuff, at the right time, and set goals based on where you actually are.
We call this the Zone of Proximal Development in teaching. It is more encouraging to achieve little goals, than to face the mountain and be terrified / paralysed of what to do.
Only by truly understanding what is expected of you, will you be truly motivated to push yourself and achieve your best.
What do you think?
What motivated you to start and continue learning an instrument?
I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below.
Until next time, rock it this week!