Top 10 Things to Look For in a Guitar Teacher

Figuring out what to look for in a guitar teacher can be a daunting task. There is always the uncertainty and doubt of whether or not you will have good chemistry with your teacher. After all: you will be putting yourself in a vulnerable position, making mistakes and doing things you can’t do well – all in the presence of a stranger. The following list of the top 10 things to look for in a guitar teacher will help you in your search for a teacher and guide you in your choice of who to study guitar with.

1. Preparedness

Knowing that your guitar teacher has a teaching plan and is actively taking notes while you’re playing is a good indicator that he is not simply trying to take your money. Some guitar teachers charge a lot, but offer little to no feedback on your performances during lessons. When a teacher is prepared, you will get more bang for your buck. “Preparedness” more specifically means that the guitar instructor has:

a) A significant database of audio files of songs to teach. A database of about 40,000 songs is a big plus

b) A music library in his teaching studio that covers theory, chords, techniques, exercises, literature and more about the instrument he teaches

c) An extensive library of chord charts and sheet music so he does not use up valuable lesson time having to write down lesson materials while you are waiting to be taught.

2. Friendly, Supportive and Firm

A friendly, supportive and firm guitar teacher will make a big difference in your musical growth. For example, if you aren’t practicing as much as you should in the week following a lesson, a good teacher will hold you accountable for that. It might not be “enjoyable” to hear his criticism, but his candidness and upfront honesty surely will earn your respect and trust. On the same note, a good guitar coach also needs to possess the right amount of friendliness and warmth of personality and diplomacy to convey his criticism without making you feel bad or without offending you.

After all: an instructor who is only being firm without being supportive will not motivate or inspire you to start practicing more diligently. An experienced guitar teacher knows how to strike a fair balance between being firm and supportive.

3. Patient and Understanding

A patient and understanding teacher can do wonders for your musical progress and growth. An important key ingredient is that you feel comfortable in his presence and vibes. Great teachers are firm and on the ball, but also very supportive and patient when you are struggling with newly covered information. It is crucial that at any given time it is okay for you to make mistakes – that is what you are there for. “Making mistakes” is not only part of your growth and learning process, it is a necessity. You will never play your best during a lesson and your teacher knows that. If a teacher shows any sign of impatience when you are struggling, look for another teacher immediately. You deserve better.

4. Working From A Professional Studio

A teaching studio tells a lot about the guitar teacher who owns it. The environment you learn in needs to be conducive to learning. If a studio is organized and professional, you will be more apt to learn information easier because you will be focused. Having a well-organized studio and being more focused is beneficial because you will get things done quicker. When a guitar instructor is fumbling through stacks of papers looking for the resources he needs, you will become distracted and learn slower.

5. Versatile

Versatility is an important asset to look for in a guitar teacher. Every student will not want to learn the same songs in the same style, nor will every student be on the same level as others. A guitar teacher should always be on his toes and know how to help anyone at any level of playing to improve. Being able to help a guitarist regardless of his current style or mastery is an important factor in being a great guitar coach.

6. Has an On-Hand Database

A teacher who has an adequate database of learning materials such as chord and tablature charts will make a big difference in improving your guitar skill. A guitar teacher’s database should consist of at least 30 thousand different songs and he should be able to pull something up in roughly a minute. You will get more out of each lesson with your guitar instructor if he has a well established on-hands database because less lesson time will be spent looking for certain music and more time will be spent playing and receiving direction.

7. Driven

Being a driven musician often translates into being a driven teacher. Fantastic music teachers are focused and constantly helping you improve in any way possible. A good guitar teacher will constantly correct and push a student in a supportive way. When you are constantly guided, corrected, challenged and motivated to push the boundaries, you will gain more in 1 lesson than you would in 5 weeks of self-study. An imperative trait of a top music coach is that he has a strong drive to help you succeed in your goals. Your progress is his focus.

8. Pushes You Out of Your Comfort Zone

When you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable, your teacher is wasting your time, talent and money. It is when you are out of your comfort zone, that you really learn. Think about it: if you are feeling very comfortable, you are basically doing things you can already do. “Learning” is the result of doing things you cannot do yet. A top guitar coach will have you spend 90% (or more) of the lesson time on things you struggle with and only 10% (or less) time on things that come easy to you. The instructor’s job is to then spend that 90% of the time guiding you in being able to overcome the struggles so you can move to the next levels in your playing.

9. Focused More on Teaching Than Being a Musician

A fantastic guitar teacher is not just someone who knows how to play guitar and shows you what to do. Teaching guitar requires a completely different skill set than playing. A necessary trait for an effective guitar teacher is that he enjoys teaching just as much as playing guitar and is passionate about it. A great guitar instructor is excited about showing you how incredibly magical music is and has your best interest at heart. If you can hear a drive in your guitar teacher and knows he has passion for music, you a probably have a wonderful guitar coach.

10. Inspiring and Creative

When a guitar teacher is able to relate music to life experiences, he is able to reach a student musically as well. Being able to see a connection between music and life is be a very significant factor in learning how to improve your ability. Music isn’t simply about playing notes on a piece of paper, it’s about the emotions and creativity that go behind the notes on the paper. Having a teacher who knows this and explains it often can make learning guitar an incredible, unforgettable experience.