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Tips for Choosing a Guitar Teacher

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Music

So you want to play the guitar, to be able to strike chords so that they find a resonance in the hearts and minds of your audience. You want to be able to play like the best of them, like Jimi Hendrix perhaps, or Eric Clapton, or B.B. King. That's a fine and high aspiration, and though it will be a very long time before you can even fully begin to appreciate the real greatness of their genius, still that is the sort of goal you should always strive to achieve and have in front of you, if you are to improve yourself at all. And along with a goal, the other thing you need is a good guitar teacher.

But do you really need a guitar teacher? It seems that the internet has everything nowadays. As soon as you do a search for guitar resources on any of the major search engines, you shall find loads of stuff that is specifically targeted at beginners like you, and also for more advanced learners. From tabs to chords and finger position lessons and tuning your guitar or choosing a good first instrument to fit your budget, the internet has it all. You just have to be a little patient with the keywords, and you'll have everything at your fingertips. So what do you need a teacher for? A guitar teacher will cost you anything between 30 and 50 dollars per hour, so do you really need to spend that on something you could probably get for free anyway?

Actually, you do. Because what a teacher gives you not something you could get for free on the internet. If that were the case, the universities of the world would have folded up long ago, and put up websites instead, thus avoiding a lot of hassle. What a good guitar teacher gives you is not merely the lessons or the tips. Those you could get on your own. What he really gives you is personal guidance, expert opinion and criticism. These are invaluable for anyone who aspires to be a good guitar player, and these aren't available anywhere for free.

How do you know who's a good guitar teacher? Even a casual internet search will throw up thousands of links for people all over the globe advertising their services. How do you pick the best from them?

Frankly, it's a difficult task to do this over the web. You never know what you're getting into until you have lost some of your hard-earned buck. So it is normally sound practice to contact the music department of your nearest university or other reputable institution, and get their list of recommendations for good teachers in the area.

Also, do not become overly impressed by someone's performance on the instrument; all good players aren't necessarily good teachers. Teaching is a special skill that needs great communication skills and a good deal of patience, and not everyone has that. A good guitar teacher will not only convey the lesson to you, but also make sure that you have actually grasped what has been taught. He will devote time and care to point out your every little mistake, and provide invaluable insight into what could make you a better performer. Do not be satisfied unless you perceive these qualities in your teacher.