As a guitar teacher, it is one thing to know how to play the guitar with all dexterity, but it is quite another thing to be able to have teaching abilities or skills that can match up with your playing abilities. Many guitar teachers are tagged ‘bad’ out there, not because they do not know how to play the guitar, but because they do not know how to teach one to play the guitar. Understand that there is a huge difference between playing and teaching, both of them are from two separate worlds and one does not make up for the other. There are lots of mistakes that guitar teachers make when teaching students and this article is to highlight some of those mistakes so that you can take note of guitar teachers, and know when to change (if you have already started lessons with them), or when not to engage their services at all (if you are yet to start taking lessons).
This article is also a must-read for you if you are a guitar teacher. You may be making one or more of these mistakes without even knowing. Read on to find out which one(s) you’re guilty of, and make deliberate efforts to correct them.
If a teacher comes unprepared for a class, that’s a clear sign that he/she is a bad teacher. A teacher seems unprepared if they:
– appear like they do not know what they are doing
– do not have any idea or mapped out plan of what to do for that class
– start fidgeting or going through pages of different books to bring out an example or an exercise thereby wasting your time by keeping you waiting (a good teacher should have prepared all of that ahead of time)
– take too much time in tuning the guitar and setting up
– start bringing up irrelevant conversation and chit-chat before or during the course of the lessons etc.
A good teacher should come prepared to every class and make the most use of every available second. Guitar teachers who take beginners are very fond of this – the fact that you’re teaching a beginner does not mean you do not have to study your own lessons ahead, it does not also mean you can just waltz into class and say or do whatever you like just because “your student is a beginner”. Whether you’re teaching a beginner, intermediate or advanced player, get your lesson notes together, take time to study what you want to teach or achieve for each class. If your guitar teacher uses the trial-and-error method to teach you, having no clear insight on what to do, find someone else!
2* Lack of excellence in their field
A good guitar teacher should portray excellence both in teaching the guitar very well and in playing the guitar very well. I’ve emphasized that teaching skills are very important if you want to be a guitar teacher, but playing skills are just as important too. It’s awkward to find a teacher who claims to teach the guitar but can only play it on the same level or a little above the same level as you, his student. If you want to learn to play the blues guitar for instance, and you engage the services of a teacher who majorly teaches blues guitar, that teacher should have a knowledge of at least 70% – 80% of both practical and theory in that genre of music.
3* Too much work load
A good teacher will not overload or over work his students with too many things to learn or practice such that the lessons now become boring, tiresome and completely overwhelming. It is easy as a teacher to want to pour out everything you know all at once, but teaching etiquette implores you to resist the temptation of doing that and gradually take on your students. As a guitar teacher, you must not teach something new everyday or every week especially if you are taking on a beginner; chord shapes and music theories can be a bit challenging for them so take it easy. When you are sure they have mastered one stage or step, then you can move on to the next or introduce a new topic but make sure you also revisit the old stuff every now and then to keep their memory constantly refreshed.
4* Always distracted
If your guitar teacher is always distracted, he does not have your growth or progress in mind, find someone else! One of the core duties of a teacher is to give undivided attention to his student(s), and to maximize every given second to achieve optimum results. If your teacher is constantly making or taking phone calls, snacking or chewing all the time, paying more attention to his phone than to you or leaving you all by yourself to do something else during most of your lesson time, that teacher is incompetent! You’ll only end up wasting your time, efforts and resources. Find someone else!
5* Lack of passion
As a teacher, there’s a certain joy you feel when transferring knowledge to your student and it is even more joyous to see your student grow and make progress with the knowledge that they have acquired from you. There’s usually enthusiasm and passion in the face of every good and sincere teacher, even if they are tired, tiredness most times is not enough to hide the facial expression or body language, it would still show somehow! When you do not see that vibe or eagerness to teach you on the countenance of your teacher, it simply means that he is not driven by the desire to see you achieve your goals and he cares less whether or not you achieve it, so long as you pay him his money completely. Such teacher is not right for you.
6* Not following up on previous lessons or assignments
The teaching methods of a bad guitar teacher are ‘new every morning’ (pun intended). With a bad teacher, everyday is a new lesson and this is so wrong! A bad teacher often forgets that he gave an assignment to be done, not to talk of checking in to see if the assignment has been carried out or not. A good teacher usually does a recap of the previous lessons and asks questions based on those lessons and also gives opportunities for his students to ask questions just in case there is anything they were not clear about. Good teacher goes an extra mile in following up on the progress of their students even when they are not having lessons with them (they do this either by calling in directly or calling the parents of the students to ask whether they have been faithful with their practice). If you constantly remind your teacher that he has not scored you on your assignment or requested for the assignment he gave, that’s a red flag for a negligent teacher. Find someone else.
7* Not interested in helping you achieve YOUR goals
The goal of teachers is to help their students achieve their own goals. Many new and even experienced guitar teachers easily get trapped here, it’s easy to just dish out topics and lessons from your repertoire and forget that you should be dealing specifically with what the student wants to learn. Do they want to learn a particular style of music? Do they want to sit for exams? Do they want to pursue a long-term career in music? Or form their own band? Answers to these questions are what should drive your lessons as a teacher, even if the student does not have clear or defined goals yet, it is still within your jurisdiction as a professional and good teacher to study them for a while, see the kind of music they like, have conversations regarding music with them and then gear them towards a specific goal path. If you have goals as a student and your teacher does nothing to guide you on that path or keeps bringing irrelevant materials to your specific goals, find yourself another teacher.
8* Under appreciation vs over appreciation
Under appreciation in this context means ignoring or failing to celebrate little efforts put in by the students while over appreciation means giving too much credit or applaud for every little accomplished task. Both of them have pros and cons, under appreciation makes your student feel bad and discouraged, they may not want to put in more efforts with their lessons because they feel like “what’s the point anyways? My teacher wouldn’t even notice” while over appreciation flatters them, makes them too full of themselves and introduces laziness, they end up feeling like “my teacher said I’m way too good now, I can skip a few lessons, that wouldn’t hurt”. As a good teacher, you should learn to balance them both; appreciate the little efforts your student makes, but do not over do it and let it get way into their heads. Let them know you see their efforts and you appreciate them, but be moderate and sincere about it, never engage flattery. If it’s good, say it is, and if it’s bad too, say it is and proffer solution.
9* Inability to teach you HOW to play or practice guitar
A bad teacher gives you practice lessons and just leaves you to figure out how exactly to do it, but a good teacher shows you HOW to do it and then leaves you with the task of gaining speed and strength by making you repeat that particular lesson over and again. A good teacher physically shows you what and what to do during your personal practice hours and have you repeat them in front of him so that he can make any necessary corrections and be sure you would practice correctly on your own, he also shows you how to get the best out of your practice time but a bad teacher just tells you verbally “do this and do that” and leaves you to it.
10* Same teaching approach for everyone
Everyone learns differently and at different paces. A good guitar teacher understands this but a bad teacher cares less about this fact. If a fast learner covers an entire topic within five classes, a good teacher understands that it may take a slower learner to cover same topic in about seven classes or more and he takes time, patience and gentleness to put his student through. But a bad teacher expects everyone to learn and get it right within that time frame and whether you’re a slow learner or a fast one, whether you are able to catch on or not, he just moves on to the next topic, as long as he gets his payment, your progress is of little or no significance to him.
Now that you know some of the errors that guitar teachers make, I’m sure you would be able to choose the right one or to replace the wrong one with the right one. There’s some piece of sincere advice I’ll give to you. Never engage the services of a guitar teacher merely based on what their online credentials or profiles say. Some people have been deceived and exploited with their money because they saw plenty of qualification and testimonials on the website of a teacher and they fell for it (don’t be deceived, many of them make these things up). The worst part is that most of these teachers request for an initial deposit of half the payment, or payment for 7 classes ahead and they do not even give you a refund when you’re not getting your money’s worth. Before you choose a guitar teacher, check reviews on Google or other platforms other than their own websites, find someone that knows how to teach effectively (not just play effectively), find someone who can teach or specialize on your kind of music; there are teachers who ‘claim’ to know how to teach anything and everything – beware of those ones, find someone who loves to teach and seeks ways to get better at his teaching game, find someone who likes or is interested in the same kind of music as you or something similar (this would make your learning process very enjoyable and easy).
Never pick a teacher just because you heard them play and you feel like they are great guitarists. Fact is that many amazing shredders do not know jack about teaching.
In general, do not be in a hurry to get a guitar teacher, take your time and find out ALL necessary information you have to know before engaging them or their services – a bad teacher is a waste of resources, time and effort.
Are you a beginner and you want absolutely FREE lessons? Then check out this complete beginner series on YouTube.
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