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What to Look for in Your First Guitar Teacher

by Editorial Team | March 31st, 2016 | Entertainment, Teens

guitarKnowing you want to play the guitar was an easy decision. Maybe it was a last minute addition to your list of New Year’s resolutions, or perhaps it was a desire decades in the making. However you came about the idea that this year would be the year, now that it’s been a couple of months behind the fret, you’ve come to the realization that it isn’t as easy as you thought it would be. You’re struggling through even the most basic riffs you found by Googling “easy guitar tabs”. That’s no way to be playing the guitar! It’s time that you turn to the professionals for some help.

Hold up; don’t go into any music store, guns blazing and ready to sign up with the first teacher you can find. One of the biggest mistakes amateur guitarists make in their search for a teacher is not doing their research beforehand. Think of it this way; you wouldn’t buy a new car without finding the best model within your price range. The same goes for a new cellphone or laptop. You compare specs and prices because you want to get the best value for your money. You should invest the same amount of effort into finding an instructor, so you know what differentiates a mediocre one from an amazing one. So when you step into your local guitar store, be prepared to ask a lot of questions.

Hopefully, you already have an idea of the type of music you want to play. Most instructors will have a basic understanding of pop and rock, but not every teacher is proficient in every type of music. If you’re interested in special playing styles, like classical guitar, bluegrass, or Flamenco, you’ll want a teacher who specializes in these genres to teach you. When at the desk, ask the representative if there are any instructors who are trained to teach your preferred method.

Once you get a list of names, it’s perfectly within your right to ask about their experience. In fact, it’s encouraged that you do! You want to know what makes them qualified for the job. Any number of degrees in their instrument and instruction can be a good start but not always necessary. Even some of your favourite guitarists – known for their proficiency – don’t have any classical training. Instead, they’ve built up their phenomenal skill through years of dedicated practice. Your instructor can be the same, but, at the very least, they should be a long-time player with a minimum of three years of teaching the guitar.

These first two questions may not narrow down the pool of potential instructors, but don’t fret (pun intended). There are more ways to determine the right teacher for you. Find out if any of the remaining instructors offer private or group classes. As long as it’s led by an expert, it doesn’t matter which one you choose. It’s a matter of personal preference. Group lessons can offer the comradery of a supportive community of like-minded guitarists, but not everyone can learn in their crowded environment. If you know you need one-on-one sessions to excel, don’t chance it – stick with those instructors offering private lessons.

This will probably shave a few more names from the list. From there, enquire about their teaching style and the format of their lessons. You’ll want an instructor who has developed a systemized technique to impart their lessons, including long-term practice strategies that can help you meet your goals and any practical exams you were interested in. When you check out Long & McQuade guitar lessons, you’ll learn that all of their skilled instructors can prepare you for RCM examination preparation, recitals, and group performances, should any of these be in your future.

Having goals – beyond the basic “I want to learn guitar” – is the best way to make sure your interest stays on point. If you’re not sure what your goals could be, you and your instructor can make some together. It can be as elaborate as passing your first RCM classical guitar exam or as uncomplicated as learning your favourite Led Zeppelin song. A great teacher will adapt their teaching style and lessons to better support you and your ambitions – which is why you want to spend at least an afternoon exploring your options. Spend the time to look around and ask the right questions. With a little bit of effort, you can find the right teach for you. Then learning the guitar won’t be so difficult anymore.

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