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Ten Questions to Ask a Potential Guitar Teacher

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Choosing a guitar teacher can be a daunting experience for guitarists of all levels. Asking a potential guitar teacher the following questions should allow you to make a more informed decision.

1. How long have you taught guitar lessons?

Ideally, you'd like to hear a big number here... at least five years. Experienced teachers will be more polished when trying to describe new techniques to students, and have a better idea of common mistakes and how to solve them.

2. How many students do you currently have?

Again, I'd like to hear a fairly large number here... 10 to 15 or more. This gives you an idea of how many other students are (happily, you'd assume) being taught by this teacher.

3. Where do you teach?

Teachers who provide lessons in a studio may be more serious in their efforts as a music teacher. Having said that, many good guitar teachers choose to give lessons out of their homes to save money on rent, or to avoid splitting lesson costs with music studios. Chances are, teachers giving lessons out of their homes will provide lower lesson rates.

4. Are you comfortable reading music?

If it were any instrument other than guitar, this question would be silly. The reality is, however, many guitarists become excellent working musicians without needing to learn to read music. Whether this concerns you or not probably depends on what you're trying to learn. I'd suggest that any young person interested in learning guitar take lessons from a teacher with a solid foundation in reading music and the fundamentals of music theory.

5. What is your musical education background?

Again, the answer to this question may or may not matter to you. I'd suggest that all young guitarists learn from an instructor with a musical education.

6. What styles of music do you teach?

Many teachers claim to be able to teach all styles of music... that's not an answer I'd hope for. Certain types of guitar playing (e.g. classical guitar) require complicated techniques that even excellent rock guitarists may not know.

7. What is your cancellation policy?

You'll want to know in advance whether you'll be charged for any lessons you need to cancel. While you're at it, you might want to ask how often you should expect the teacher will need to cancel.

8. What openings do you have?

Keep in mind that booking lessons on a Monday will results in a more erratic guitar lesson schedule, due to holidays.

9. Do you teach from specific instructional books?

This not only gives you a better idea of how much the initial cost for beginning lessons will be, but gives you insight into the teaching style of the instructor. Many teachers choose to work through a specific instructional book with students, while others prefer a more casual approach, opting instead to write out lessons on the fly.

10. What is your payment policy?

Some guitar teachers like to receive a lump sum money for lessons in advance, while others are comfortable working in a pay-by-the-lesson format. If your potential teacher asks for a commitment to a significant number of lessons up-front, you might instead suggest paying only for the first several lessons, at which point you can make a decision on whether or not to continue.
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