How to find the right teacher?

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by nanthil, May 11, 2020.

  1. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    14
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2019
    Warning: This might come across as condescending, elitist, or egotistical, but that can't be further from the truth. I'm trying to find a teacher that suits my learning style, interests, and experience, and the market is so saturated I need some way of describing the difficulty I'm experiencing in my search. So please take the rest with a grain of salt. Teachers: Please don't be offended or insulted, I know (hope) good teachers are out there and I know most students aren't interested in the kind of mastery that is expected from other instruments. This is just my best attempt at expressing my frustration in my search.

    ---------------------

    I have been playing guitar now for nearly 20 years, I've learned everything on my own until I took classical guitar in college for a time. After college, I have been playing and studying on my own and feeling stagnant. In the past I always had a classmate, a friend, other youtube content to turn to. Now I'm just a plain old adult who doesn't have any musician friends anymore. I desperately need a coach, someone to point out where I can improve, how and what to study, etc. tailored to my ability and stage in life.

    When I look out into the world for a teacher, I find so many beginner or hack guitarists only "teaching" kids how to read a chord chart, or "teaching" students by tabulating and regurgitating the songs the student wants to learn, or one-trick pony blues jocks who don't have any real theory knowledge, but just tons of experience and a killer tone but don't really make for great teachers. Other people will recommend a "great guitar teacher" because to them "great" means they learned a few chords, or got them playing their favorite song, but the guy turns out to be a self-taught acoustic praise-and-worship leader who recommends only playing with floppy picks because they sound "soft".

    In my experience learning classical instruments it was so much easier to find quality teachers because most of them have conservatory, university, or decades of symphonic practice, along with music theory and composition in their resume. Learning trumpet and piano, I always felt like I was in the presence of a master with each new teacher and each lesson. But most guitar teachers leave me feeling like I've been conned.

    How then can someone find a competent guitar teacher for another experienced guitarist?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
    Solodini and bostjan like this.
  2. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    15,647
    Likes Received:
    4,013
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    There are lots of good teachers out there, but they are not that easy to find, simply because they are in high demand.

    What, exactly, do you not like about your playing as it is now?
     
  3. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    14
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2019
    "What, exactly, do you not like about your playing as it is now?"

    Professional orchestra musicians and top classical soloists still have teachers, like all professional athletes have coaches. I'm looking for the same thing but for the guitar.

    But answering your question:
    1. Lack of accountability: I set a goal for myself and get distracted, or only get "good enough" and move on. Easy trap to fall into, but a teacher would hold me accountable to practice and make progress towards a goal.
    2. Incomplete education: I have so many theory questions sometimes, but they come and go in my brain and I forget them. Having a proper teacher would provide me someone to ask.
    3. Garbage improv: having someone listen or watch me play would help because I don't know how to break out of my comfort zone
    4. Struggle setting a practice regimen: I can, have, and do run scales to a metronome all day, i can, have and do watch and practice every top guitarists vhs tape, dvd, youtube video and magazine article or method book, but still be practicing basically the same things. I don't know where I can improve because I'm generally proficient. Having someone to expose my deficiencies will help me discover new ways to practice
    5. Lack of vision: I don't know where I'm going. I have an aching to accomplish something with my music, and a vague hazy vision of where I would like to make my mark, but the goal isn't clear, and the path towards my goal isn't clear. Someone to bounce ideas off of and to take advice from to help me amble in the general direction of my goal is the only way I can see to move forward.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
    budda, Solodini, Bedecki and 2 others like this.
  4. Indigenous

    Indigenous Indigenous

    Messages:
    404
    Likes Received:
    232
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2011
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Look up the music faculty at colleges near you. Many of them do private lessons or can direct you to someone who does, like former students of theirs.
     
  5. metal4life71

    metal4life71 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    27
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2019
    I am in the same boat. Unfortunately, I don't live close to schools like Berklee or GIT that teach professional level of rock and metal guitar skills that I want to master and most local teachers are hacks.
     
    Solodini and nanthil like this.
  6. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    14
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2019
    If you haven't seen Troy Grady on youtube, go watch him. A huge source of heavily researched advanced technique for the guitar. Unfortunately, most of the skills you're talking about are still very revolutionary, and quite new in the context of history. Violin technique has been explored for centuries, but most of the advanced guitar techniques have remained unresearched and misunderstood. That's where Troy Grady comes in. If you're interested in technique, that's a boundless resource I wish I had 20 years ago.

    I don't think you can reasonably expect guitarists in general to have professional level of "rock and metal guitar skills" because they're so new, and most people playing guitar aren't even attempting the techniques. Basically the only way any of us learned those skills was from listening and emulation. If you listen to any interview from Vai, Petrucci, or even Abasi, young or old they all learned by listening, and imitating, or by finding some sage book or video. There's lots of guitar technique that you just have to learn yourself unfortunately because nobody is going to teach you. Very few people can actually do those techniques, not to mention that people who can do them are probably already in the bands that you listen to because if they have the chops they're probably out there making it.

    On the other hand, the conservatory level knowledge that you can't find a "rock discipline dvd", that's so laughably absent in the guitar scene. There are very few trained guitar teachers who know more than just listening and imitation.
     
    Solodini and metal4life71 like this.
  7. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    15,647
    Likes Received:
    4,013
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    I can see how a guitar teacher can help you with those things, but I can also see how, generally speaking, any good musician could fit the same bill.

    For that matter, you could have a great guitar teacher, and if observation #1 gets a siderail from economics or a new friend or whatever, the rest won't matter.

    Matthias IA Eklundh has some cool theory lessons, if you haven't checked him out.

    Improvisation is something you have to do trial by fire. You might be able to simply find someone with whom to improv- it could be a bass player, drummer, aardvark liver player... it doesn't matter. Just get together with whomever you can find who is in a similar conundrum, and jam. If their phrasing sucks or they hit a clam, point it out to them respectfully and ask them to do the same for you. Honestly, that ought to be more productive than having a teacher watch you and grade you in red pencil.

    Once you work out your solutions to the other problems you have, you'll have a much better idea what to focus your practice on. Personally, I need a new technique or a new theory idea to spam during practice in order to actually want to practice.

    Regarding your last observation, I hope someone can help you with that. Personally, I have never known where I was going in my career, nor why I always found myself going wherever it was in a handbasket.
     
    USMarine75 likes this.
  8. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    944
    Likes Received:
    650
    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Location:
    Barrie, ON
    I'm speaking from experience here. It took me 6 months to find my last teacher.

    I plateaued and didn't know how to get out of the rut I was stuck at in order to get to shred levels of guitar (mind you, I'm still not there). I called up a bunch of shops that taught lessons, asked about each guitar teachers qualifications (accredation, prior acheivements and Royal Conservatory of Music evaluation). Of the 6 or places I called up, 3 fit the bill so I met with all 3 of them prior to signing up for lessons. Two of the three were both metal guitarists and could pull off some insane shred, but that was a box I didn't want to be stuck in. The third one I spoke with, Mark, was a jazz guitarist and an absolute master of improvisation. I learned that he grew up and cut his teeth on 80s shred and hair metal, but evolved his style into jazz/fusion playing. I chose Mark because his currently play style wasn't an exact match to mine and his teaching would take me out of my comfort zone and expand my horizons. On my first meeting/interview with him, I told him where I was, what I was into, where I want to be and what traps I don't want to fall into. He tailored a "masterclass" for me and was able to get me out of the box that stuck in. I regret not furthering my lessons with him and was forced to stop because I had to save every penny I could for the house we were about to buy and where we moved is too far away to continue learning from him.

    My advice to you is to put together a list of qualifications that you feel are relevant to your learning experience and interview a bunch of teachers. Keep your mind open to teachers that don't match your playing style or interests because you could still use their methods to apply to your own playing. The best way to get out of your box and comfort zone is to go in the completely opposite direction.
     
    Solodini, metal4life71 and XPT707FX like this.
  9. metal4life71

    metal4life71 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    27
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2019
    Right now in the COVID-19 situation, I am finding good tips from the book
    Kirk Hammett's Guitar Lessons: The Sound & the Fury

    I do well learning from videos and books and occasional private lessons. As a Metallica fan, this book has been a joy to read and great to see what Kirk has done to master guitar. It would be awesome to train at GIT and do a certificate program there.

     
  10. Alexa run my life

    Alexa run my life SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    117
    Joined:
    May 6, 2020
    If you search craigslist all you will see is

    "Skype, Zoom, lessons available"
     
  11. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

    Messages:
    11,841
    Likes Received:
    2,622
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire, U.K
    Are you open to online teachers? A LOT of professional metal guitarists in successful bands use teaching as their main income. Usually expensive, often more the kind of teacher you would have a less frequent checkup with. You need not stick with the same one either - it could be worth just investing in a single session with a bunch of guitarists you look up to and seeing what you can learn from each.

    Are you involved in the Facebook guitar community at all? For metal, that's where most activity, word of mouth and advertising seems to happen on a professional level in my experience. Aside from the personal websites of professional musicians you are already aware of that may happen to teach, I honestly wouldn't know where to look for what you are after other than Facebook.
     
    XPT707FX, USMarine75 and Solodini like this.
  12. Solodini

    Solodini MORE RESTS!

    Messages:
    3,526
    Likes Received:
    367
    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    Location:
    Edinburgh, Scotland.
    I agree that a good music teacher not necessarily guitar teacher could help, to develop overall musicianship.

    I don't think improvisation is always trial by fire. For me, improvisation is composition on the spot, so I develop it by working on the building blocks of composition and awareness of the available possibilities in harmony, rhythm (note starts, duration, variation, start and end points of phrases) and timbral techniques and trying to apply them with more and more fluency, until I can apply them more immediately. I still definitely don't feel fluent or immediate but I'm working on it.
    Trial by fire runs the risk of finding a few things which work and taking a while to break out of that, if it's not consciously pursued. Especially if you're just jamming with someone else who's approaching things based on what's familiar for them to play and not planning/consciously influencing what they play.
     
    ElRay likes this.
  13. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    944
    Likes Received:
    650
    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Location:
    Barrie, ON
    I agree with you. A good music teacher can make all the difference. If there's something about music theory that you don't understand or are having a hard time grasping, a music teacher can explain it in any way that will make you understand, and teach you how to apply it.

    The building blocks are so important in music theory because without them, everything just falls apart so quickly. One of my biggest challenges in playing guitar has always been being able to play lead. This is one of the things I talked about with Mark (my last teacher mentioned above). I told him "I know what I want to hear, but my fingers don't know where to go". His approach was to just start with some technique, then build the basic scale shapes. It kind of worked, but didn't exactly fill in the pieces I was missing. About 8 or 9 months ago (well after I stopped taking lessons with Mark), I decided I was just going to go back to basics and learn everything I didn't from my earlier teachers. I have had this book in my library for a long, long time and pulled it out a few months ago and started going through it. I'm incredibly happy that I did because I now understand more about fretboard theory than I ever have in my 20+ years of playing. The book has its flaws, but once you understand the system that it's using to teach you (CAGED) and realize that you need to take the exercises and figure out what scale shapes they belong to, the book starts to open up and become a very enlightening learning tool. One of the other things I noticed missing from this book but was so important to the building blocks was visualization. Being able to not only build the muscle memory of scale shapes, but also visually memorize the scale shapes really helps to with that whole adage of "notes light up like little LEDs". Once I had these realizations, I was finally over the decades-long hump that I had been stuck at. I really wish I had learned these basics when I started playing, because I'd be so much more of a better guitar player than I am right now.

    Sometimes just going back to basics is the best way to help yourself become a better musician.
     
  14. USMarine75

    USMarine75 The man who is tired of the anus is tired of life Contributor

    Messages:
    6,486
    Likes Received:
    6,015
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    Location:
    Middle East
    From your self-assessment you're already an elite level guitarist and it doesn't sound like most local teachers are going to have anything to offer. It also sounds like you're hating on the majority of teachers out there because you're so much better than them already. That teacher would obviously be fine to teach my 4 year old or an old one trick pony blues hack with killer tone like me, but not you.

    Paul Gilbert, Andy James, Rick Graham, Martin Miller, Tom Quayle all have skype lessons available. They are probably more at your level you are looking for. They all offer customized content. They all offer to listen/watch you play and help craft lessons based on your gaps and desires.

    But no teacher is going to hold you accountable. This isn't high school football in TX. You have to be self-motivated like every other professional guitarist out there. Paul Gilbert isn't where he is out of luck. He's great precisely because of how much work he put into his craft. No one else can motivate you to do that - it comes from within. YMMV
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
    sirbuh likes this.
  15. sirbuh

    sirbuh SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    476
    Likes Received:
    373
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2010
    Location:
    Houston
    the post reduces to this - looking for hand holding is the limiting belief.
     
    USMarine75 likes this.
  16. Alexa run my life

    Alexa run my life SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    117
    Joined:
    May 6, 2020
    Yeah but the point is if you dont have the right teacher to point out your flaws and poor technique then you could be practicing 6 hours a day the wrong way which will be hard to undo later down the road. Yes you need the will the practice but you need the right teacher to show you what and how
     
    Masoo2, metal4life71 and Solodini like this.
  17. metal4life71

    metal4life71 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    27
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2019
    For me, an intensive metal rock clinic by a well known guitar teacher would be awesome. Like if Satch or Petrucci gave a 3 day rock metal guitar clinic that would superb opportunity to build chops. But timing and playing in the pocket with bass player, drummer, singer and other guitarist would be super awesome for me to develop timing skills.
     
  18. Alexa run my life

    Alexa run my life SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    264
    Likes Received:
    117
    Joined:
    May 6, 2020
    MAB clinic too.....although he goes off on too many tangents haha
     
    sirbuh likes this.
  19. nanthil

    nanthil SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    14
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2019
    What? I'm just talking about having something prepared for the next lesson. That's all I meant by accountability. I have a lesson plan, and thus I have a deadline for what I need to practice.If I'm going to pay someone for their time, I'd better have something prepared and practice or I'm just wasting my money.

    That isn't handholding, and it isn't limiting. Most people function more efficiently when they have deadlines.
     
  20. Nicki

    Nicki SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    944
    Likes Received:
    650
    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Location:
    Barrie, ON
    I think the point is that the onus of accountability is ultimately on you. Even if the lesson plan includes "you need to learn skill X by next week because it's required for the next lesson", it falls on you. Is your teacher going to hold you accountable? To a degree, yes, but only so far as repeating last week's lesson again and not moving on. That's just about the only real consequence when you're an adult taking lessons and that's potentially money you've now wasted. It's different with children because the teacher can talk to the parents and the parents can decide the corrective action to take which impacts the child.

    As an adult taking lessons, you're the one that needs to set the targets and the deadlines, not your teacher.
     
    sirbuh likes this.

Share This Page