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Follow Up: How Good Should a Guitar Teacher Be?

Last week, I posted a poll asking how good should your guitar teacher be?

Not a ton of votes, but the results seem to indicated that it depends. Several very good points were made in the comments:

James said that, “The best teachers are the ones that can inspire you and open the doors to a wide range of musical styles.”

I agree, especially for the younger guitarist. That said, inspiration is a big part of lessons for me. Not so much that I’m inspired by my teacher, but rather inspired and motivated to practice and improve. It’s very hard to work without a goal. Even a weekly lesson provides an effective short term goal every week.

Brett mentioned, “I think the level of your teacher can be dependent upon the level which you are at and the level you want to progress to. When I was first starting guitar, I was able to learn a lot from decent guitar players and teachers, but now, I need someone who can take me to the next level. So I say it depends.”

To go along with that, Bobber said, “I don’t see any hard and fast rules here. I have been fortunate to have been around some great players. Both Oscar Ghilia and Eliot Fisk I found to be tremendous inspirations when I was around them in Aspen (in the late 70’s). But looking back, my regular teachers were sub par and lacking in perspective with regards to necessary technique and proficiency. These days, that has changed a bit so it’s probably not as significant.”

I think these two comments address some very specific issues. Perhaps your teacher’s playing ability should be reflected in your own goals and level. I’d never really considered this before. I just assumed that one should seek the best player out and learn from them. But that logic is flawed.

Virtuoso teachers should be sought out by advanced students seeking to go the next level. The reason I say that, though some may disagree, is that a teacher who can play anything is going to be able to provide more insight into performance, musicality and technique because they’ve been there before. But a beginner doesn’t need a virtuoso teacher. A beginner needs some one who makes them excited about the guitar and can mold their musical sensibility and technique for the first lesson.

I truly admire those teachers who have refined a method that works well with beginning guitarists (of any genre). The skill required to do something like that is on par with being a virtuoso player.

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