Imagine this plan for acim teacher or three dealerships nearest your house, find the cheapest car available on these lots, and buy that one without any further consideration. Does this seem like a good plan to you? I hope not! Yet this is how many aspiring guitarists approach the search for a guitar teacher. I hope to persuade you that guitar instruction, just like cars, comes in many levels of quality, features, and value. You need to know something of how to find the right guitar teacher for you before you even begin looking!
So let’s take another look at the car analogy. How do we identify the right one for our needs? First, we know that however much it costs this is more than we want to spend, so we may as well put that aside for the moment. We start with what we need. If we have to carry four or five people routinely then we need a large sedan. If we need to carry four or five people and a bunch of equipment for the kids’ extracurricular activities, then we need an SUV. If the need is for general purpose cargo hauling, then of course we need a truck. Towing a boat? We need a big motor. No boat? More concerned with fuel economy? Then a smaller motor is in order. We pick the vehicle FIRST, before even considering where to buy or how much to pay.
Once we know the vehicle we need we might do a bit of research on the web, ask some friends, etc., to find what brand and type are most reliable. Then we find out the nearest places we can find such a vehicle. Only then do we go looking for an actual example of the vehicle on a lot somewhere… not necessarily only the closest lot to home. Why not the closest lot? Because the closest lot may not have the car that most closely matches all of our goals and preferences, and of course at this point we are looking for a car that we can afford!
The final decision is a balance among multiple considerations, and so it is with a wise choice in selecting a guitar teacher. You are going to spend a year or three or five of your life with your guitar teacher, and hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars. Is it wise to make such a life-impacting decision with no forethought? It is conceivable that one by sheer luck could go the closest music shop, pick the cheapest guitar teacher, and end up with the best possible outcome. It is also possible to win the lottery. The odds are about the same for both scenarios.
What are the steps for identifying the best teacher for you?
As a beginner or early intermediate guitarist you may have difficulty discerning if a particular guitar teacher is the right one for you. Varying stages of your progress may require different teachers. The idea here is to eliminate the ones you can KNOW are not right, and then make an informed guess as to which one is the most appropriate for your goals and other pertinent considerations. Follow the steps below to greatly increase your odds of correctly identifying the right guitar teacher for you early on, and thus avoid wasting precious time and money with a poor match.
Step 1. Know the facts: Guitar teachers are not all the same. Some are ineffective, some are great, and most are in between. Not all good players are good teachers. A music degree does not automatically make for a good music teacher. Cost is certainly a factor for all of us in considering any kind of financial investment. However, as with most any other investment, generally you will get what you pay for. If an ineffective guitar teacher charges you a fraction the price of a good teacher, but it takes you four or five times as long to reach your goals, then you have come out behind both financially and in terms of your guitar skills. Likewise, if the closest teacher to your house is not the right guitar teacher for you then the extra months or years to reach your goals eclipses the few minutes of driving time you save per trip.