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Thread: When looking for a guitar tutor...

  1. #1
    C.W
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    When looking for a guitar tutor...

    I'm currently on the hunt for a local electric guitar tutor. I've seen a couple that seem quite interesting, and teach alternative/rock/punk which are the genres I'm interested in, but I have no idea what I should really be looking for.

    I'm 28 and most definitely a "beginner" and, whilst I have a vague notion of what chords and such are, I am in need of physical instruction to locate them correctly with my little, clumsy fingers.

    I like the idea of working on theory too, but are gradings necessary? I aim to be a proficient guitarist in order to understand composition, to compose my own songs and to execute those compositions to the best of my ability. And I understand this will take a lot of time and dedication. But what do 'gradings' bring to this? Is it purely a certificate that says I am qualified to do those things, but I'd learn them anyway (if I reach those skill levels)?

    What other things should I be looking for/be aware of when looking for a tutor?

    Thanks for your time!

  2. #2
    C.W
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by C.W View Post
    I'm currently on the hunt for a local electric guitar tutor.

    I've been browsing around and found a few threads, internet articles, etc covering this.

    The general gist is to know what kind of teacher you want and to tailor your questions. I got a response from an ad I posted whilst I was looking around forums. He answered my basic questions about what style he taught, that he taught from home, where he was and that he was happy for me to use his guitar if I wasn't bringing one.

    Using some of the guides I have read, my response included:

    "*Do you read music/can teach it?

    *Do you have a link to any samples of your work/music you've worked on/testimonials from students?

    *How many students do you normally have, and when do you teach? What openings do you have?

    *What is your teaching style? Do you teach from an instructional book, or use other methods?

    *How much are your sessions? And how do you like to be paid?"

    And just found a link to an ibreathemusic article by Tom Hess about this: www.ibreathemusic.com/article/82

  3. #3
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.W View Post
    I'm currently on the hunt for a local electric guitar tutor. I've seen a couple that seem quite interesting, and teach alternative/rock/punk which are the genres I'm interested in, but I have no idea what I should really be looking for.

    I'm 28 and most definitely a "beginner" and, whilst I have a vague notion of what chords and such are, I am in need of physical instruction to locate them correctly with my little, clumsy fingers.

    I like the idea of working on theory too, but are gradings necessary? I aim to be a proficient guitarist in order to understand composition, to compose my own songs and to execute those compositions to the best of my ability. And I understand this will take a lot of time and dedication. But what do 'gradings' bring to this? Is it purely a certificate that says I am qualified to do those things, but I'd learn them anyway (if I reach those skill levels)?

    What other things should I be looking for/be aware of when looking for a tutor?

    Thanks for your time!
    Gradings are of no use if it's any kind of rock you're interested in. (You can be reasonably sure none of your heroes have any grades.)
    Grades are a way of measuring your progress - but against what? What yardstick would have any meaning for you? You can obviously congratulate yourself as you pass each one, which is a nice feeling. And it will do you no harm. But it shouldn't be a major focus.

    To "understand composition, to compose my own songs" - you don't need theory for that, you just need to learn and study as many songs as you can. Again, it's highly unlikely that any "alternative/rock/punk" guitarists studied theory. They may not have even had any lessons; but what they certainly did do was copy the players they liked, as well as they could.
    Again, a little theory will do you no harm! Treat it like a map of the country you are exploring. You don't expect a map to show everything (and it certainly doesn't), or to tell you where to go. It's just some useful information, handy when you get lost.

    As for a teacher, you definitely need one who is reasonably familiar with the players and bands you admire. If you can check his credentials in some way - years of experience, maybe testimonials, etc. - that's good, but sometimes even a highly experienced and admired teacher is not the one for you. You have to meet and take one lesson at least. Don't sign up for a course of lessons without some kind of initial trial - every good teacher should be prepared to do that. Some will even offer a free trial lesson, but don't expect that (those that do might just be desperate for students ).

    At a first lesson, the teacher should ascertain your current skill level and knowledge, by getting you to play whatever you can. He should also ask about your goals, what kind of thing you've been studying (books? youtubes? DVDs? other teachers?). The idea being that he can then plan a course tailored to your requirements, moving at whatever pace suits you.

    It's perfectly possible to teach yourself, but what a teacher provides - that you can't get anywhere else - is professional feedback. They will critique your playing and your progress, point out where you're going wrong, and advise practise regimes.

    Remember this isn't like school. You are the client, paying for a professional service. You're in charge. At the same time, don't expect everything to come from the teacher. Teaching is his responsibility; but learning is yours. 90% of your progress (maybe more) comes from what you do between the lessons. You have to drive it, in that sense. He offers guidance, but from the back seat .
    Last edited by JonR; 02-20-2013 at 11:38 AM.

  4. #4
    C.W
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Gradings are of no use if it's any kind of rock you're interested in. (You can be reasonably sure none of your heroes have any grades.)
    Grades are a way of measuring your progress - but against what? What yardstick would have any meaning for you? You can obviously congratulate yourself as you pass each one, which is a nice feeling. And it will do you no harm. But it shouldn't be a major focus.

    To "understand composition, to compose my own songs" - you don't need theory for that, you just need to learn and study as many songs as you can. Again, it's highly unlikely that any "alternative/rock/punk" guitarists studied theory. They may not have even had any lessons; but what they certainly did do was copy the players they liked, as well as they could.
    Again, a little theory will do you no harm! Treat it like a map of the country you are exploring. You don't expect a map to show everything (and it certainly doesn't), or to tell you where to go. It's just some useful information, handy when you get lost.

    As for a teacher, you definitely need one who is reasonably familiar with the players and bands you admire. If you can check his credentials in some way - years of experience, maybe testimonials, etc. - that's good, but sometimes even a highly experienced and admired teacher is not the one for you. You have to meet and take one lesson at least. Don't sign up for a course of lessons without some kind of initial trial - every good teacher should be prepared to do that. Some will even offer a free trial lesson, but don't expect that (those that do might just be desperate for students ).

    At a first lesson, the teacher should ascertain your current skill level and knowledge, by getting you to play whatever you can. He should also ask about your goals, what kind of thing you've been studying (books? youtubes? DVDs? other teachers?). The idea being that he can then plan a course tailored to your requirements, moving at whatever pace suits you.

    It's perfectly possible to teach yourself, but what a teacher provides - that you can't get anywhere else - is professional feedback. They will critique your playing and your progress, point out where you're going wrong, and advise practise regimes.

    Remember this isn't like school. You are the client, paying for a professional service. You're in charge. At the same time, don't expect everything to come from the teacher. Teaching is his responsibility; but learning is yours. 90% of your progress (maybe more) comes from what you do between the lessons. You have to drive it, in that sense. He offers guidance, but from the back seat .
    Thank you for your feedback!

    I may have found a tutor to try. He has 20 years experience, works as a session musician as well as teaches in schools, as well as working with learning disabilities. Which I think is a fab skill! He's even played in a band at a local festival I go to in the summer!

    In terms of lesson plans, he's actually told me he works towards my goals but progress will be steady providing i practice. He's offered to help select a suitable guitar if I need to purchase one, will work on theory, is certified and crb checked...

    He plays and teaches alternative/rock specifically, price is reasonable and first 30 mins is free as standard. He's already booked up fully on a couple of nights, nights with other times dotted about.

    Seems like a really nice and approachable fella too. He had videos of his work, images, images and recordings... he can also work on composition, software, and other instruments. Jack of all trades!
    Last edited by C.W; 02-20-2013 at 11:53 AM. Reason: correction

  5. #5
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.W View Post
    Thank you for your feedback!

    I may have found a tutor to try. He has 20 years experience, works as a session musician as well as teaches in schools, as well as working with learning disabilities. Which I think is a fab skill! He's even played in a band at a local festival I go to in the summer!

    In terms of lesson plans, he's actually told me he works towards my goals but progress will be steady providing i practice. He's offered to help select a suitable guitar if I need to purchase one, will work on theory, is certified and crb checked...

    He plays and teaches alternative/rock specifically, price is reasonable and first 30 mins is free as standard. He's already booked up fully on a couple of nights, nights with other times dotted about.

    Seems like a really nice and approachable fella too. He had videos of his work, images, images and recordings... he can also work on composition, software, and other instruments. Jack of all trades!
    Sounds great! Lucky find!

    He's right that "progress will be steady providing i practice" - that's probably the most important thing. If you can commit to regular times every day, enough to practise until either (a) it starts to hurt or (b) you get bored, then you will progress well.
    Tip: if it's hurting or you're bored - go and do something else for a while. Some pain in fingertips is to be expected (before the skin toughens through wear), but beware of pain anywhere else: it's a sign of bad position, or just doing one thing for too long. To avoid boredom, practise as many different things as you can; your teacher should guide you there.

    To train your ear, keep listening to music, and try and be analytical as you listen. Try to focus on details, hear effects and changes. Music is no longer just passive entertainment for you. You're getting inside it, to find out how it works.

    Just as an artist's prime skill is knowing how to see, a musician's is knowing how to listen. It will also help if you sing or hum as you play, trying to match individual notes in scales or chords. (You may not want to be a singer, but it's all about ear training and being able to internalise sounds, to feel them better.)

  6. #6
    C.W
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Sounds great! Lucky find!

    He's right that "progress will be steady providing i practice" - that's probably the most important thing. If you can commit to regular times every day, enough to practise until either (a) it starts to hurt or (b) you get bored, then you will progress well.
    Tip: if it's hurting or you're bored - go and do something else for a while. Some pain in fingertips is to be expected (before the skin toughens through wear), but beware of pain anywhere else: it's a sign of bad position, or just doing one thing for too long. To avoid boredom, practise as many different things as you can; your teacher should guide you there.

    To train your ear, keep listening to music, and try and be analytical as you listen. Try to focus on details, hear effects and changes. Music is no longer just passive entertainment for you. You're getting inside it, to find out how it works.

    Just as an artist's prime skill is knowing how to see, a musician's is knowing how to listen. It will also help if you sing or hum as you play, trying to match individual notes in scales or chords. (You may not want to be a singer, but it's all about ear training and being able to internalise sounds, to feel them better.)
    Thank you! Yes, I definitely will commit, particularly since paying out the pennies. I did do vocal lessons for a short time, which I enjoyed and want to resume by the summer. But think guitar is definitely what I need to spend more time on at the mo. I have a few voice warm ups, scales and such from the lessons I took last year to be getting on with.

  7. #7
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    I think someone with some sort of professional training is worth learning from. This is because they would have learned proper technique in their studies. If you are a beginner, I would be more interested in learning good technique from a teacher rather than worrying what style they teach or if their musical tastes are equal to yours. The reason I just said that is because, once you gain good technique from a good teacher, you can apply this knowledge to whatever style you like.

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