I believe that the best way to learn (and improve) guitar playing is to take private lessons with the right teacher. The key to success is finding the right teacher for you.
There are lots of reasons why you might not be able to take private lessons. See Learning Guitar: Books, Videos & Software. But, if you are thinking about lessons, read on.
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Establish Your Guitar-Playing Goals
Imagine you’ve just finished a year of private lessons. You’ve practiced diligently, and taken the teachings to heart. So, where do you imagine yourself? Do your goals include the ability to…
- take a sheet of music with chord charts and play along to the written music?
- play rhythm guitar power chords with your new punk rock band?
- play along with a novice (rock, bluegrass, blues, etc.) band?
- Play solo, classical guitar pieces?
Jot down your learning goals.
Generate a List of Prospective Guitar Teachers
Start with recommendations. Ask your guitar-playing friends if they know of a good teacher, or if they know someone who has had lessons.
Hang out at a music store. Ask the staff about the in-store teachers, for sure. But also ask staff and other shoppers if they can recommend a good teacher. Check out the store’s bulletin board for teachers’ fliers.
Search online/offline Yellow Pages. Create a list of prospective teachers in your area. You’ll want to find a teacher that is either close to home or work. If the teacher has a web site, bookmark it.
Trim the List
Check for teacher web sties. With list in hand, look at each teacher’s web site. At this point, look for teachers you can quickly eliminate. Some may only teach classical or jazz. Some may only accept advance students. Some may be too far away. Etc.
Interview Prospective Teachers
With a shorter list of possible teachers you can start calling for an interview. You will want to find out the following:
Current teaching schedule. First find out if she has an opening that fits your schedule? This is important. You really have to schedule lessons at a convenient time for you. You could end up spending an hour or so every week at this time and place.
Suitable to your learning goals. Can the teacher accommodate your learning goals? Is he proficient at the music you want to play?
Fees and payment schedule. What’s the hourly rate? Does she require monthly payments in advance?
Qualifications and experience. How long has he been teaching? What’s his educational background?
Teaching method. Does she teach out of a particular book or use a particular system? If so, try to browse the book at a local music shop or check it out on Amazon.com.
References. Can he provide names of students you could contact as references?
Schedule an initial trial lesson. Most teachers will offer a free introductory lesson. This “meet and greet” may not be an actual lesson. But, you can get an idea of the teacher’s personality and her teaching methods, how much practice she expects. Be prepared to ask questions.
After the Trial Guitar Lesson
There are three possibilities:
- You couldn’t imagine a better teacher, time and place. Go ahead and sign up.
- You couldn’t imagine spending 30-60 minutes every week with this teacher. No problem, keep looking.
- The teacher, time and place seemed OK. Adequate, but nothing special. This is probably the most likely scenario. There’s no need to rush the decision. Sleep on it. Possibly schedule a trial lesson with another teacher.
Realize too that you won’t be signing a long-term contract. Most teachers will probably want a month’s payments in advance. So even if the teacher turns out not to be the right fit, you’ll only need to take a handful of lessons.
For me, private lessons are the most efficient way to learn. That’s how I’ve made my best progress. But, there are loads of guitar players, much better than me, who have never had private lessons.
Click here to find the best beginner guitar that suits you.
Troy Nelson, a celebrated guitar educator from Viroqua, Wisconsin, has significantly impacted guitar learning with acclaimed books like ‘Guitar Aerobics’ and ‘Fretboard Freedom’. His unique journey from Sports Management to leading roles at Hal Leonard Corporation and Guitar One magazine has shaped his approach to guitar education. Now based in Nashville, Nelson specializes in crafting effective guitar practice routines, enhancing players’ skills and technical mastery. His work is a treasure trove for guitar enthusiasts worldwide.