View Full Version : My first lesson...how it went.

01-21-2003, 01:46 PM
Lesson one learned: no matter how hard you search and how good a teacher appears to be....you won't know until you actually sit down for the first time.
Last night went to my first lesson- it can be described as somewhere between bad and terrible.

I arrived at 6:15 for my 6:30 scheduled lesson. About two minutes after I got there...a guy carrying a guitar came flying past and into the teacher's room. Uh oh, someone is late for their 6:00 lesson!
So, I wait patiently...6:30, 6:35, 6:40...they are still going in there. 6:45 to 7:00 not so patient waiting.

About 7:05, the door opens and out steps the teacher, who when he looks at me, I know he was not expecting me. He invites me in, apologizes, says he can work me in. He apologizes again, says he has alot going on in his life right now (including having a bad cold).

So, we sit down, get out the guitar and he looks at me and asks me what kind of music I want to play. I explain to him for the third time (he asked the same question in two previous phone conversations) that I want to be taught the fundamentals, the basics, the foundations of how to play so once that foundation is solid that I can learn songs that I like. He looks at me after this explanation and says, "okay, have you worked on that 12 bar blues I gave you over the phone?" He then proceeds to teach me "St. Louis blues" without any effort to determine if I know how to properly sit and hold the guitar, finger the chords or anything else. After about 10 minutes of that, he asked me again what kind of music I liked. So I named a few artists, he picked out James Taylor and proceeded to teach me "Fire and Rain". This was great...a complicated strum pattern and a bunch of difficult chords I'd never played before!

He searched about 5 minutes for a "chord chart", finally handing me a hand written "CAGED" chord chart and then checking off all the ones "you have to know", which included major, minor, sus, dim, 7th, chords with bass notes and so on.

The lesson ended about 7:40 when he said that he had to go because he needed to get to his "latin dance class". Then he asked me again what time he had scheduled me for lessons!

The best part of the lesson came at that point when he said I could just pay him next week for this week and next week.

I'm going to give him the opportunity to do better next week, to be prepared for a new student and to be feeling better.

If you've read this far, thanks. I welcome anyone's advice and recommendations.


B A Stone
01-21-2003, 04:18 PM
First of all, this guy doesn't sound like he's very organized. And if he's got so "much stuff going on in his life", that it affects his teaching, maybe he shouldn't teach.

It's unfortunate that there are no pre-requisites for becoming a guitar teacher. There are tons of "teachers" who are very accomplished players but have no idea how to teach.

A lot of these guys take people's money and teach them their favorite songs or licks, not giving any(or very little) attention to the basics.

Depending on where you live, good teachers can be hard to find. My advice to a beginner in search of an instructor, is to treat them like a building contractor. Ask them if you could talk to some of their students, so you can see what kind of "work" they do.

Talk to the person who has a lesson before or after you to find out their opinions.

All this is just my 2 cents. But IMO, a poor teacher can do more harm than good.

Good Luck!!

01-21-2003, 05:19 PM
Choosing a teacher (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/play/article/82)

01-21-2003, 05:56 PM
Originally posted by JpEvhAf
Choosing a teacher (http://www.ibreathemusic.com/play/article/82)

LOL...yeah, I saw this today after I posted my message...wish I'd seen it a few weeks ago...great article....will help with my search for a new teacher!!


01-21-2003, 10:13 PM
if you ask me
when your starting off ... you dont need a teacher

after you have been playing for about 6 months

then you need one

but first you are just getting your fingers comfortable with the guitar all you need is tabs

thats what i rekon anyway

01-22-2003, 12:03 AM
I think that you should come in with a bunch of questions to your next lesson. Ask him if you're doing stuff right. I know from experience because one day after taking lessons for a year I asked my teacher about a new way of holding the pick and he said "Oh yeah, it gives you a much warmer sound and less resistance from the strings." I was kind of pissed off that he hadn't told me early. Anyway you get my point.

I think that if the next lesson goes bad... even with your questions, then you've got to find a new one.

Shred Fan
01-22-2003, 01:43 AM
Indeed, and everytime I hear about this "bad" guitar teachers it actually makes me a bit mad.

Now I don't teach myself, and I'm self taught, which means I never took lessons, and when I hear stories like this it really makes me think a few things (and the following is what I believe to be a good teacher and what I would be like if I ever taught)......

A teacher should not only be able to play well, in fact that is only one factor.

The most important factors are......

Knowledge - Even if a teacher is not an absolute master of certain genres / techniques / etc. he should have some knowledge of it as well as a very wide knowledge of all sorts of miscellanous guitar facts, excersises, theory etc.

With this the teacher is more able to show the student the basic and specifically what the student wants to know (this also grants the ability to answer any questions the student may or may not have).

Communication - This is what separates a good teacher from a crap one. It's all well and good to have the information crammed in their brain, but transferring it to a student is the hard part.

He should be able to show and demonstrate certain things and more importantly point out their use because constantly giving a student all this stuff they "need to know" will just make the students uneasy because they have no idea why they need it. A good teacher I believe will outline what is being taught and how it is used in a music context.

For example, a good teacher will show their students a scale , show them how its used, the fingering, what notes to emphasise, and show them a few licks/solos and tell them a few songs it is used in so they can associate with it.

A crap teacher will go (Eg.) "here is the harmonic minor scale you need to know it, it is the natural minor with a raised 7th".

I know how who I'd rather have teaching me.

Attitude - Let's face it , you have a teacher with a bad attitude , just forget about them.

When you go for a lesson you are paying them , you are doing them a favor, they are not doing you one, its your money they are getting.

If a teacher does it all half-assed and acts like he really doesn't want to be there then I believe he shouldn't be a teacher.

Basically you want a teacher who lives, breathes, eats and sleeps guitar playing, because you know this guy is passionate about it, if you just get someone who is doing it just to get cash then it isn't fair on you.

Ok, there is my $0.02, hope it gave you some advice. If you really think your teacher deserves another chance, give him a shot, but like you said yourself, he seemed a bit uncommited and when you especially asked for the basics I'm surprised he didn't even explain chord fingering or why they are done that way etc. And a full five minutes it took him to find a chord chard he should have had prepared, that is like 10% of your lesson.

Sure, it may be true that he is very tied up, but with all the things that happened at your lesson it is not very fair on you and it may just be an excuse (what else can he say, really?).

If I was you, and I'm not but if I was, I'd look for another teacher, but try to find one who gives a trial lesson first.

Hope this was a help (and if it wasn't then sorry for making you read all this :))

Good Luck and Don't let these downfalls discourage you from playing,

-Shred Fan

Bongo Boy
01-22-2003, 02:36 AM
My good God!!! There's no way in hell I'd give this loser a 2nd chance. Sorry...instructors of this 'quality' are a dime a dozen. Move, on, cut your losses. I would pay the guy for the pro-rated portion of the lesson you received, then discount the payment by the amount of your time you lost waiting for him to get his bizniss together, at his hourly rate. That should net out to about $0.00.

The only thing I'd need to tell me this is a no-win situation is the TWO times he put his priorities above your agreement with him--the first, when you walked in and he had to spew about his 'life', and the 2nd when he had to make an excuse about another engagement (more important than you getting a full session).

Finally, he's incompetent as a consultant. Write it off and move on!!

07-06-2005, 03:51 PM
I'm a teacher in St. Louis and after hearing all this, I'm interested in how other teachers work. (So sorry bluecollarman, but I agree with Bongo... write it off as a lesson learned and move on with someone else! A STUDENT should never have to be patient with a TEACHER!) Anyway, here's a little bit about my lessons. The Man charges 30 bucks for an hour private lesson and I get half-ish. They tune to me by ear or to a machine depending on their age and ability and my whim. With my advanced students we do a warm up jam and talk about it afterwards. Great way to get a dialoge started. Otherwise we do an IMPROV EXCERCISE. This can be done with ANY ability: Have them pick a mode they're unfamiliar with and run it slowly with the metronome increasing the speed over the course of 10 or so minutes untill they're comfortable with it faster. Then slow it down and ask them to play one note per beat OF THEIR CHOICE - as long as it's once per tick with no resting or holding. Great way to HEAR the modes, and to build their confidence. Let me know what you all do in YOUR lessons and us teachers can get some ideas thrown around. Thanks!

07-06-2005, 04:09 PM
Does a bad plumber not blame his?;)

07-06-2005, 04:59 PM
Does a bad plumber not blame his?;)

Obviously threre's no such thing as a bad plumber!!:p

Caffeinated Cat
07-06-2005, 06:18 PM
I've never understood the point in going to a teacher if he's just going to teach you some songs. You can download thousands of those for free with powertab. And the format is vastly better than some handwritten chord chart.

07-06-2005, 07:45 PM
Well if your playing a song, they can tell you what your doing wrong.

07-06-2005, 08:44 PM
I've never understood the point in going to a teacher if he's just going to teach you some songs. You can download thousands of those for free with powertab. And the format is vastly better than some handwritten chord chart.

Totally agree-- a million percent

07-06-2005, 09:30 PM
I disagree. Mainly because I teach a lot, and I do teach a lot of songs.
The thing is... if you have a student who is motivated and knows what he can do with any theory or technical stuff you teach him, you can focus on that, and heīll take care of learnign songs himself.
However, for people who are just starting out, I focus on teaching them songs. Not only is that quite motivating to them ( being able to play along to their favorite CDs soon ), it also helps them to avoid a lot of traps.
Example: a student of mine downloaded the TABs for the whole "American Idiot" album by Green Day. As most of you will know, Green Day songs usually are a tidbit easier to play than, say, Symphony X songs.
Even though some of the riffs are kinda fast ( i.e. the one of the title-song ), many of these songs can be learned rather quickly.
However, the student of mine simply was confused by all the details in the TAB ( I think it was even one of those ASCII tabs that often donīt include any indications regarding each notes length )
He actually found it quite confusing and difficult to learn those songs from the TABs ( mind you, weīre talking about someone who isnīt very interest in modal improvisation etc. yet... he wants to play some of his favorite songs )
So I walked him through one of the songs... showed him each riff slowly. Showed him how to break each part of the song into segments in order to memorize and learn them more easily. Watched him play those parts slowly, making sure he didnīt make it more difficult by using difficult fingerings. Slowed down the riffs with a metronome and worked them up to speed with him.
You have to remember that yes, at a certain point, itīs not all that hard to learn a song with a TAB. However, especially in the beginning, a teacher can watch and listen and point out problems or mistakes you might not be able to realize yet... timing problems, "bad" fingerings etc.
I always work towards the point where a student can read TAB well, and can figure out songs by ear himself ( with ear training and some basic theory ). Thatīs important to me. Most of my students, after some time, are able to pick out and learn songs themselves. However, they did benefit from me teaching them ( even simple ) songs bit by bit at first.
Now mind you, I didnt say that you wonīt be able to learn songs correctly from a TAB without lessons. i also saw that CC said "just going to teach you some songs". I think in terms of a process though... the process of learning a song from a TAB, bringing riffs up to speed, memorizing it etc.
One other example would be what I had last week... I walked another student through "Be Yourself" by Audioslave. Now, that song isnīt THAT hard, but the TAB he had was kinda confusing. He had a problem playing the second half of the solo ( the "funky part" ) correctly.
I showed him a very basic version at first, then we worked on the right hand technique required for that part, and eventually we tied it together. After feeling kinda lost working with a decent TAB, he was able to play the whole thing easily after half an hour.
So not only can a teacher watch out for mistakes you might make, he also can make things clearer for you, simplify them at first so you can explore them better etc.

Oh and yes, a Powertab for example IS way more detailed etc than a chord chart. But letīs face it: once you get to the point where you write songs with others, you often work more with chord charts and your ears than you do with a powertab. When I write songs and want my band to play them, I donīt go through the very time-consuming process of notating them to the smallest detail. Everyone gets a CD, a leadsheet / chord chart and maybe a TAB for the parts that might take longer to figure out.
And in none of the situations where I worked with other musicians was I handed a thorough powertab-printout, but instead was given a leadsheet, and I had to work with that.

Thatīs just my opinion though

07-07-2005, 04:33 AM
I also teach a lot here in Houston TX and it seems like songs are what 80% of the students are interested in. You gotta remember that THE GREAT majority of the students you'll get are kids who want to learn how to play their favorite songs, they don't care much about diminished runs or upper neighboring tones.

I do interview my students in the first lesson (according to the school policy I am not allowed to contact them at a personal level before or up to a year after their contract with the school ends... one of those non compete agreements... sort of a record deal but for a guitar teacher :p another way to get ripped off :D ) And find out what they actually want to learn.
Once that point is clear then I taylor a regime that will fit each particular student. We also keep a journal that contains everything they're working on (it gets an entry every week). This not only helps them remember what to work on but it helps me keep track of them. (I just can't keep track of 40+ practice regimes a week without that little help :D ).

Now for those remaining 20% pasionate crazy musicians who are hungry for knowledge and want to know all the whys and work their butts off on every lesson so they keep me on my toes... Well, I have a total blast with those, and I teach them whatever they want to learn... and I am not afraid of saying "I don't know" so things are pretty straightforward.

I do live music. I also pay my bills with it. I could do something a lot more profitable (like computer work... I just turned down a job offer actually :rolleyes: ) But I'd rather do this and be broke... I know I'm crazy.

So yeah... I don't know what to tell you about the guy blue... maybe he did have a crazy day (I know I have those from time to time) and it happened to be the day you started it... give him another try and if he turns out to be a bum... well then just go, but he may be one of the good ones... Drill him next time, tackle him with all kinds of questions and see how he responds. Then you'd really be able to see if he's good or not.

I hope this helps.

07-07-2005, 06:42 PM
to bluecollarman: run away! run away! everyone has life issues (in fact, sometimes the roles are reversed, and my students would rather pay me to listen to their life stories than have me teach them about music). if i were you, id send him a bill for your services as a psychologist (at a rate of $20 per half hour), and offer to pay his bill when he pays yours. the big issue is that hes a teacher, and he has a responsibility to make sure you get what you paid for. otherwise, you arent receiving services rendered, and in some industries, this is a case for a lawsuit.

http://www.ibreathemusic.com/play/article/82 this is a great article. one thing i would add to it is that a lesson should end with a brief review of everything that was discussed, everything that should be practiced before the next lesson, and what will be taught in the next lesson. this reinforces the lesson, sets goals, and helps inspire the student, respectively. teachers who dont do this will have a reason for it, such as: the teacher isnt sure whats best for you at that moment, and needs some time to think about it. this is a good time for you to remind him what you want by asking questions relevant to the direction you want to go. a simple "what will we be doing next week?" will let the teacher know that you care about your education, and he/she needs to make sure your needs are met if they want to retain you as a student.

I'm interested in how other teachers work for the beginners interested in playing in bands, 10 minutes of metranome work with whatever they're learning at the moment followed by 20 minutes of re-inforcing old material that went unpracticed or adding new material (most of which comes from jamey abersold books). for students interested in campfire songs (the snowbirds who dont really want to learn anything at all) i give them a lead sheet and a jam session with short breaks in between to discuss the really major technical problems. intermediate and advanced students get modules, some of which were written for previous students, some written specifically for that student, and the majority from my core curriculum. these include diagrams, worksheets, backing tracks, or assignments (such as transcribing a song they want to learn or developing an idea they have for an original).

I've never understood the point in going to a teacher if he's just going to teach you some songs. You can download thousands of those for free with powertab. And the format is vastly better than some handwritten chord chart. i absolutely agree. theres alot more to music than learning songs. that said, more often than not, the tabs cant accurately express how a peice is going to be played. for example, many jazz fake books (and indeed, tabs) show songs written in straight eighths, but should be played with a swung beat. if you dont know this, you'll end up missing an important part of the style, and the fake book (or tabs) does you no good. additionally, many tabs are written by people whom are average at best with transcription so unless you know how to use your ears, you may be way off base and never know the difference.

I could do something a lot more profitable (like computer work) when i worked for a corporation, the stress wasnt worth the effort and constant re-education. now i work for a ma-n-pa shop, and the work is so sporadic, its a waste of time. computers suck. music rocks. ;)

EDIT: oooh... post #100... do i get an IBM cookie?

07-07-2005, 08:52 PM
I know i should'nt be talking about what to do and not to do considering i don't play and/or have no knowledge about how to teach, In fact i should be quiet but since im not that way i guess ill say something anyway ;)

Lets just make a comparison to martial arts and their instructors (compare it to anything that offers training for money). There's alot of schools and styles out there in the big world. The thing is, not all of them might suit you.

Once you know what you want you should start looking for a good school. You find a school, The first thing you should do is to check out if they offer a first free lesson.

Sure this might sound stupid but remember. If they do offer a free lesson it means the following.

1) They know they can offer you premium stuff
2) They got nothing to hide
3) They prioritize you!, If someone cant understand that you would like to see if the service is any good before you sign up, They are nothing you want to train with.

What to look after when finding a teacher.

1) Are they nice?
2) Do they seem knowledgable?
3) Are they good at showing and explaining things for you?
4) Do they seem organized? (not panicking and running around. Get down to buisness the second you sit down)
5) Do they appear to CARE about you? (not just take your money but also listen to you)

If you are really picky you can start looking if they care for their instruments and the place they are practicing at. Maintenance is one of the most important things there is and says alot of a person. (This is the soldier in me talking ;P )

Anyway, I might have repeated most of what others have said but just take it as proof that they are right. I hope im right in what i've said though :)

Ah well, Good luck and ditch that guy!