In an article by Ken Futernick (http://edfordemocracy.org/TQI/TQI_Quality_Matters.htm), he states that most of us would not dream to have surgery performed on us by an unlicensed practitioner, (in which he states it is mostly impossible since it is a crime) but we accept education from teachers who have (in his own words) "virtually no professional training, no classroom experience, and little or no knowledge of the subjects they will be asked to teach".
Although teaching the guitar is not a high-school or further education subject, I wholeheartedly agree with Ken's article and in terms of guitar tuition it certainly applies.
I would bet that a large number of "guitar teachers" do not have a complete grasp of their instruments and how to teach it. This leaves you (the student) in a black hole, receiving education from a teacher who is possibly feeding you some bad techniques and habits on a weekly basis.
Although most guitar teachers have impressive "music credentials", they will still teach you bad habits. While there are certainly value in credentials, they are in my opinion vastly overrated.
The fact is, anyone can pass a music university exam with imperfect guitar tone, terrible technique and a deep, fundamental misunderstanding of music theory. Most guitarists who graduate yearly fall in this category. Fortunately, there is always a diamond in the rough.
In fact, some of the greatest musicians were drop-outs. Think Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Chick Corea and others. Wikipedia says the following about Chick Corea: "He eventually decided to move to New York where he studied musical education for one month at Columbia University and six months at The Juilliard School. He quit after finding both disappointing, but liked the atmosphere of New York where the musical scene became the starting point for his professional career."" and about Miles Davis: "Davis dropped out of Juilliard, after asking permission from his father".
Am I slandering music schools and universities and stating that those who do not obtain a degree are better than those who do?
No, I am simply making a valid point that credentials do not mean you can swing!
How does this apply to your situation, and how is it pertinent to this article?
It educates you about the dangers of selecting a teacher based on credentials alone.
To get to the essence of the article, here are ten reasons why you need an excellent guitar teacher
- You'll learn the correct habits, techniques and sounds
- You will obtain the right mindset
- You will be motivated to practice regularly
- You will have a lot of fun!
- You will feel passionate about your progress, and that will lead to more progress
- You will learn to make the guitar sing
- You will have a thorough understanding of music, harmony, form, arrangements and structure
- You will be able to improvise properly
- You get the BEST bang for your buck (even if he or she is five times the price of the going rate) – in years to come the pay-off will show.
- Your guitar-playing dream will materialise (as long as you follow Winston Churchill's advice: never, never, never give up!)
You might want to know where you can find an excellent teacher. The truth is it is an art in itself!
Here are a couple of questions you can ask potential teachers to help you make a decision:
- How do you structure your classes?
- What can I expect to learn or play after six months?
- Can you give me three references about your guitar work?
- Can you give me three references about your guitar teaching?
- Would you mind if I email one of your students to get feedback about the lessons provided?
- What's your weakness in teaching?
- What's your teaching strength?
- Who is your favourite guitar player?
- How long have you been teaching the guitar?
- Why do you teach?