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TIPS

-Finding the right guitar teacher.
-It was good enough for me so it should be good enough for you. right? wrong!
-The truth about "shortcuts" gimmicks and secrets that "no-one else knows.
-If you are a music major, you should be trained like one. If you are not a music major, you should not be trained like one.

-This is a wonderful period of time where learning takes so many shapes and forms but discernment is important and it can be overwhelming.

-Methods or systems cannot diagnose your needs nor can "Gurus" who try to sell them.

-Private lessons should be significantly better than any class or method.

-"Ensemble" or "Class guitar" lessons promise, even guarantee results by watering down everything to the slowest student in class.

-If you can play classical or jazz, you can play anything. Right? Wrong!

-Playing experience is not the same as teaching experience.

-Always be suspicious of teachers who do not list their years of teaching experience, front and center on their bio and whether those years were full time.

-Convenience isn't the same as quality. Laziness will cost you a lot!

-Guitar of different quality will have different prices and so should teachers.

-Do not fall for the "first lesson's free because we want you to feel comfortable with your teachers"

-Fuzzy Math or "Discounts" or Complicated "Packages" that will lock you in and end up costing you a lot extra or hidden registration fees.

-Legitimate pros never resort to "Sign-up fees" or "Registration fees". These are big red flags.

-Legitimate teachers want to talk to you before you schedule a lesson! Chemistry is something that only you can judge...

-Burnout is a not a side effect of something you are doing right, it is a symptom of something you are doing wrong!



Finding the right guitar teacher.

DO NOT HIRE A BUILDING, HIRE A TEACHER!
"School" / Stores see you as thier property and they do not want you to question their necessity for your progress because they will not like the answer. It is the teacher that knows you and what you need, not the store. The store wants to make you feel it's illegal to leave the if the teacher leaves but do you really want to stay with a place that is going to call the nearest college music program to find a teacher with no experience? If the teacher wasn't any good, then why did the store put you together with them. Its because the "Schoo" / Store doesn't know anything but how to put two bodies into a room.

LEGITIMATE, PROFESSIONAL STORES and TEACHERS WELCOME YOUR SCRUTINY BUT THE SCAMMERS DO NOT AND IT WILL BE VERY OBVIOUS IF YOU TAKE A LITTLE TIME TO LEARN THESE TACTICS. OTHERWISE YOUR TRAINING WILL ONLY BE A BAD REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION INSTEAD OF A WISE INVESTMENT OF YOUR TIME, EFFORT AND MONEY.

It is my hope that you become aware of why you should take your choice of teachers very seriously and NOT JUST ASSUME ALL TEACHERS ARE THE SAME.

While this might seem like a long read, the time you save by learning these facts could save you YEARS and the money you save will be four or five digits.

 

It was good enough for me so it should be good enough for you. right? wrong!

The main reason you are studying from a teacher is to AVOID taking as long as they took to accomplish a task and to avoid their mistakes. Personally, I know what it’s like to unlearn bad habits and I can tell you that NOT following in my footsteps, in some cases, will save you more time. It is not an automatic given that what was great for the teacher will automatically be good for you. It is much easier for a teacher like that to keep pulling you into THEIR comfort zone than it is for them to adapt to YOUR comfort zone. You will find out how rare it is to find a teacher who is versatile and skilled enough to adapt to YOUR needs because it takes MANY YEARS OF EXPERIENCE TO GAIN THAT SKILL.

YOU HAVE YOUR OWN GOALS. TRUST YOUR OWN JUDGMENT!!!!

 

The truth about "shortcuts" gimmicks and secrets that "no-one else knows.

FACT: Shortcuts are like credit cards; they feel good in the beginning and cost you for a long time. This might sound like an exaggeration but it is actually an understatement. I have many decades of experience teaching people how to “deprogram” bad habits these same old “secret shortcuts” that “no-one-else-knows” that are now blocking them from improving. Common, outdated shortcuts include the CAGED system and using catch phrases for memorizing the notes of the staff like "FACE" or "Every Good Boy Does Fine." Any “system” that programs you to think of wrong information to find the right information is GOING TO SLOW YOU DOWN FOR A LONG TIME!

AVOID HYPED PROMISES OF "SECRET SHORTCUTS" THAT THE "BOOKS CAN'T SHOW YOU" OR THAT "TEACHERS WITH THEIR DEGREE FROM BERKELEY DON'T KNOW" THEY ARE ONLY ADVERTISING THEIR OWN IGNORANCE AND USUALLY ARROGANT ENOUGH TO CHARGE YOU THE HIGHEST PRICE FOR NOTHING.

 

If you are a music major, you should be trained like one. If you are not a music major, you should not be trained like one.

This would be like a doctor or lawyer insisting you learn medicine or the legal system to treat a sore throat or handle a traffic ticket. While teachers financially benefit from this type of overkill it is very costly to you and it is actually what you should be paying to avoid. If you are professional player but not a music major, you do NOT need to worry about using outdated concepts like solvegio ("solvege") or fixed solvege or label chord progression analysis with overblown terms Tonic, medient, sub-medient, dominant, subdominant etc. and if your teacher likes to speak in those terms, they are more interested in impressing you with their knowledge than they are in helping you learn.

WATCH OUT FOR TEACHERS WHO TREAT EVERY STUDENT LIKE A MUSIC MAJOR INSTEAD OF TAKING THE TIME TO DISCUSS WITH YOU YOUR GOALS AND YOUR NEEDS.

This is a wonderful period of time where learning takes so many shapes and forms but discernment is important and it can be overwhelming.

However, I should also warn you to watch out for self-published online CD-ROM "Instant Guitar" style methods that are recommended by "reviewers" who are actually the authors who claim SURPRISE: Their product is better than all of the others in their "review." Those courses have very poor quality control, and make bad advice look official. A very expensive dust collector.

ALWAYS AVOID DOGMATIC TEACHERS WHO SEEM THREATENED IF YOU SUPPLEMENT YOUR TRAINING WITH INSTRUCTION AND TABLATURE BOOKS, DVDS, COMPUTER PROGRAMS AND RECORDINGS INSTEAD OF WELCOMING YOUR INITIATIVE AND WORKING THEM INTO YOUR PROGRAM.

 

Methods or systems cannot diagnose your needs nor can "Gurus" who try to sell them.

This is how teachers will try to lock you in to make you dependent on their approach when they should be educating you towards independence. The truth is; YOU’RE the one that is going to be practicing and YOU’RE the one who will deserve the credit when you succeed, not your “Guru's" ego. You can get better quality products for a lot less money in any music store but if you become dependent on a local "guru's" magic method, you will likely have to start over to learn from other people, books or methods.

YOU DO NOT NEED GUITAR “GURUS” THAT SEE ALL, KNOW ALL AND EVEN MERCHANDISE THEIR OWN MAGIC, “INSTANT GUITAR” BOOK, METHOD, SYSTEM OR COURSE UNDER THE PREMISE THAT YOU CANNOT LEARN WITHOUT THEM. YOU WOULD MOST LIKELY FIND A BOOK IN THE CLEARANCE SECTION OF BARNES & NOBLE THAT IS MORE USEFUL AND MORE PRODUCTIVE THAN ANY SELF-HYPED GURU AND FOR A LOT LESS MONEY AND DRIVING.

 

Private lessons should be significantly better than any class or method.

It isn’t realistic to expect everyone to benefit equally from the same book or follow the same “program,” exercises, songs, skills regardless of your own goals, strengths or weaknesses. Methods can be useful for some instruments in a classroom situation but they are very limiting for individualized training, especially for versatile instruments like guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. You are not supposed to realize that it should be lessons OR methods, not both. Methods are self explanatory and you do not need to pay a teacher $40 per hour to walk you through it. Private lessons SHOULD be 10 times more effective for that kind of money. Teachers that rely on methods are lazy and unlikely capable of assisting you with the...

Another example of a "classroom mentality": requiring EVERYONE to read music, no exceptions! Since I have made a living for the past three decades, reading and writing music, you would probably find it surprising that I would be the most vocal opponent of this policy. The best way I can sum it up is that reading music a fantastic tool if you need it. SO IS A FORK LIFT. If you don't need it, it's a major pain. The fact is, only a small percentage of my clients would really benefit from reading music and I risk burning them out before they had a chance to fall in love with playing if I make them jump through the hoops of reading music before I allow them to learn what they have hired me to teach them.

DON'T HIRE A BUILDING! IMPORTANT DECISIONS THAT ARE AT THE HEART OF QUALITY TRAINING THAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR. ALWAYS AVOID TEACHERS WHO TEACH PRIVATELY AS IF THEY ARE TEACHING A CLASS.

 

"Ensemble" or "Class guitar" lessons promise, even guarantee results by watering down everything to the slowest student in class.

You will likely end up paying to be slowed down. Do the math and you will see this only benefits the teacher. You will just be charged the same amount while surrendering the main benefit of private lessons. You would be MUCH better off just purchasing a book, DVD or CD and start teaching yourself.

 

If you can play classical or jazz, you can play anything. Right? Wrong!

TRANSLATION: They do not know how to play rock, folk, blues, country, funk or any contemporary style but they assume that it is easy and you will be able to teach yourself those styles after you learn jazz. Their logic will be like driving to the Keys via California. THIS MISTAKE CAN COST YOU YEARS!!! I fell for this assumption myself. I am both, classically (“legit”) trained and jazz trained but my gigs have all been authentic rock (all eras), country, funk/R&B, folk and I can say from a point of knowledge, that it was a myth to assume knowledge of complicated styles is the same as being qualified to teach other styles. This is a very bad sign if a teacher makes this claim because it might indicate that they cannot adapt and probably shouldn't be teaching privately. This is why you have guitar classes taught in schools by teachers that can’t even play guitar. I first saw this old scam back in the '60s with "How to Play Rock & Roll" the author's picture in a tux with a jazz guitar. Private lessons are about YOUR goals. A legitimate teacher is always HONEST with you about their limitations and their strengths.

NEVER EVER HIRE A TEACHER WHO DISCOURAGES YOU FROM YOUR OWN CHOICE OF STYLES OF MUSIC.

 

Playing experience is not the same as teaching experience.

IF they are fresh out of school or still attending, that is usually the first thing that they will bring up in their qualifications and that is practically an admission that they do not have experience and shouldn't be charging more than $20 per hour for a few years. Some like to conceal how little experience they have by combining their teaching experience with other experience like number of years playing or even other subjects unrelated to guitar or bass lessons like golf lessons or swimming etc.. THIS IS NEVER A GOOD SIGN.

 

Always be suspicious of teachers who do not list their years of teaching experience, front and center on their bio and whether those years were full time.

That number of years of proving themselves to their clients will tell you more than how many years of playing, what bands they have played in, education or their own personal influences COMBINED because all of those things are ONLY AN INDICATION OF WHAT THEY HAVE DONE FOR THEMSELVES. If they have only been playing 20 or 30 years, you can safely assume any claim they can teach you "everything," is an exaggeration. If they have only been teaching 10 years about 20 or 30 students then they are likely just beginning to understand how to teach and they shouldn't be charging more than $20 per hour. If they are teaching through a store or if they are driving to your house, they will charge up to $60 per hour with most of that money going to store rent or “travel.” If they avoid the question by saying they have been teaching a "long time" BIG RED FLAG!

 

Convenience isn't the same as quality. Laziness will cost you a lot!

This is a perfect example of "a penny wise, a dollar poorer." That craving for convenience can seem very attractive just like that remote when you are tired or that hot fudge sundae when you are hungry. Cravings are very deceptive because they can seem like they are what you want but it actually takes discipline to do what you REALLY want. Example: A year from now are you going want to say “I watched a lot of TV, ate a lot of hot fudge sundaes and I didn’t drive very far for lessons, Yeah” or would you rather say, “I took lessons from this great teacher and I cannot believe that I can sound like this.” The main reason you hire a teacher is to save time, not just hours or days but YEARS if they are experienced. Studying one month with an experienced instructor, even if you have to drive a distance to study with them, can save you more time than a year with an inexperienced teacher who shows up at your house or teaches in that nearby store.

DON'T HIRE A BUILDING! NEVER EVER CHOOSE A TEACHER OR STORE/SCHOOL JUST BECAUSE IT IS CLOSE TO HOME OR THEY COME TO YOUR HOME.

 

Guitar of different quality will have different
prices and so should teachers.

Ask a store if they charge exactly the same price for all of their guitars whether it’s a $3000 Martin or a $300 Epiphone. How many Martins would they even have if they sell all guitars for $400? Stores with “assembly line” policies reward inexperience and penalize experience so it is very obvious why these stores have to resort to tricks to lock you in. Their teachers come from local colleges and this is why they only have inexperienced music majors or recent graduates because according to their low standards, this is all anyone needs to be qualified to teach. I have heard of one "school"/store who labels any teacher a "Senior Instructor" if they have had only three years experience because they want to rent to as many teachers as possible and there are not enough instructors with 10+ years of experience in south Florida and they won't pay the high rent these places charge.

DON'T HIRE A BUILDING! ALWAYS AVOID STORE/SCHOOLS BOASTING OF A LARGE STAFF OF TEACHERS EACH CHARGING THE EXACT SAME PRICE WHETHER THE TEACHER HAS BEEN TEACHING 30 YEARS OR 30 MINUTES. THEY ONLY OVERCHARGE FOR LOWER QUALITY. EVEN WORSE, IF THEY ARE SO MECHANIZED THAT THEY HAVE A POLICY THAT CLAIMS THAT THEY WILL ASSIGN YOU A "SUBSTITUTE" IF THE TEACHER CANNOT MAKE IT, DON'T WALK AWAY...RUN! THOSE AREN'T PRIVATE LESSONS, THEY ARE PRIVATE CLASSES AND THEY CANNOT GIVE YOU WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR.

 

Do not fall for the "first lesson's free because we want you to feel comfortable with your teachers"

...THIS IS NOT A FAVOR, IT IS A TACTIC. YOU WILL LIKELY LEAVE YOUR “FREE” LESSON AT LEAST $200 POORER AND FEELING LOCKED INTO POOR TRAINING.

This is no different than the one week trial offer for gyms. tactic either because they feel that once they get you into the store, they can lock you in to their more expensive "packages." If they are afraid to have you talk to their teacher directly before you sign up, then they do not have any confidence in that teacher being able to "close the deal." That is all that the "school" wants but I can tell you right now, it is not what YOU want. You will discover during your “free” lesson that if you want that advertised price you can only get that price if you sign up and pay today including a sign up fee so that if you do not like the teacher you will keep trying out different instructors from that “school” instead of going somewhere else.

DON'T HIRE A BUILDING! DO NOT BOOK MORE THAN A MONTH AT A TIME AND DON'T BE SURPRISED IF THAT'S ALL YOU NEED IF YOUR TRAINING IS HIGH QUALITY. IF YOU WANT TO REALLY EXAMINE HOW COMPETENT YOUR TEACHER IS, SET UP A ONE-TIME APPOINTMENT YOURSELF AND MAYBE EVEN SET UP ONE TWO HOUR LESSON AND PAY THE HOURLY RATE FOR THAT TIME. IF THEY SEEM DETERMINED TO BOOK YOU FOR MORE THAN A MONTH, THEN THAT'S A CLEAR RED FLAG.

 

Fuzzy Math or "Discounts" or Complicated "Packages" that will lock you in and end up costing you a lot extra or hidden registration fees.

You might see ads like "Guitar Lessons or Music Lessons FROM $14.00 - $24." Key word "from" and yes there is a catch. After they have enticed you with what appears to be a great price, it turns out that they have found a clever way to disguise the fact that they're actually the among the highest prices. You find that you only get that "Special Introductory Package Rate" if you purchase (for example) a block of 15 lessons for $255 and that equals $15 per lesson, right? WRONG! DO THE MATH AND YOU WILL FIND THERE IS AN EXTRA $30. THAT IS A HIDDEN ONE-TIME REGISTRATION FEE. Also, they are 1/2 hour lessons so according to their advertising it's $30 per hour but AS FAR AS YOUR WALLET IS CONCERNED YOUR "SPECIAL DISCOUNTED PACKAGE IS ACTUALLY $34 PER HOUR. It gets worse. That's just an introduction package that you have now paid a lot of money to get locked into and now the prices climb up to $50 per hour for an instructor that hasn't even been teaching 10 years. If you do not like their inexperienced teachers, TOO BAD, NO REFUNDS! YOU'VE PAID FOR 15 WEEKS WHETHER YOU USE THEM OR NOT AND YOU'RE PROBABLY BETTER NOT USING THEM.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT JUST TELLING YOU EACH TEACHER'S HOURLY RATE OR FOR TRYING TO LOCK YOU IN FOR MORE THAN A MONTH AT A TIME.DO THE MATH! IF THEY TRY TO PRESSURE YOU FOR MORE, IT'S A VERY BAD SIGN!!! ASK THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS!!!!

 

Legitimate pros never resort to "Sign-up fees" or "Registration fees". These are big red flags.

These tactics have only one purpose; to "lock you in." They are hoping that you do not question the fact that YOU GET NOTHING FROM THESE NON-REFUNDABLE FEES. Truth be told, THEY SHOULD PAY YOU a sign up feel because you will already be paying the store enough money since a huge chunk of each lesson will go rent INSTEAD OF EXPERIENCE. The sad part is this shameful, arrogant tactic works. So many people allow themselves to be locked into poor training because they don't want to “waste” the $20 or $30 they paid up front. The truth is, if you have paid one of those sign up fees, YOU HAVE ALREADY THROWN AWAY THAT MONEY and allowing it to lock you into poor training is only making it cost you more. I have heard that one store is now claiming they charge that fee to pay for the privilege of allowing them to take your money and handling the scheduling and that it’s like car dealers charging extra fees. Yes they really do assume people are that stupid.

DON'T HIRE A BUILDING! THEY ARE CHARGING YOU EXTRA FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU DON’T WANT AND THAT PATTERN WILL CONTINUE TO GET MUCH WORSE; MAKING YOU FEELING LIKE YOU HAVE TO KEEP PURCHASING MORE AND MORE UNNECESSARY PARAPHERNALIA AND YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO LEARN WITHOUT THEM. I CALL IT SELLING YOU 'INSTANT TALENT IN A CAN; JUST ADD WATER" AS IF YOU CAN BUY YOUR WAY OUT OF PRACTICING OR SKILL.

 

Legitimate teachers want to talk to you before you schedule a lesson! Chemistry is something that only you can judge...

...but you may not trust your own judgment and store owners love to exploit your doubts in yourself. REMEMBER: The store doesn’t care about anything but filling openings and locking you in. They do not have the slightest idea of how to judge whether you and one of their teachers are a match. In fact, I have never found a great teacher in “assembly line” stores that control the scheduling, pricing and payments and try to prevent you from having any communication with their teachers outside of the store. They cannot attract quality, experienced teachers and they have to resort to tactics to lock you in.

AGAIN, DON'T HIRE A BUILDING! NEVER ALLOW SOMEONE TO “ASSIGN” YOU A TEACHER OR AN OPENING WITHOUT ALLOWING YOU TO TALK TO THE TEACHER FIRST!!! VERY IMPORTANT!!! IN FACT DO NOT STEP FOOT INTO THE "SCHOOL"/STORE WITHOUT TALKING TO THE TEACHER FIRST. IF YOU CALL THEM AND THEY AVOID ALLOWING YOU TO TALK TO THE TEACHER, LEAVE YOUR NUMBER OR TO GIVE YOU THE NUMBER OF THE TEACHER, THEN THEY ARE MANIPULATING YOU AND ADMITTING THEY DO NOT HAVE A QUALIFIED TEACHER FOR YOU. CALL SOMEONE OR SOMEWHERE ELSE!

 

Burnout is a not a side effect of something you are doing right, it is a symptom of something you are doing wrong!

The following is part of a series of tips that I want to share in my hopes that it will assist you in your effort to learn these amazing instruments. This topic, burnout, is one of many common but unnecessary problems that I have found to be very poorly addressed by the majority players and teachers.

BURNOUT DOESN’T HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT; YOU WORK VERY HARD TO ACHIEVE IT. I am not saying this to be smart-alecky. I’m just making a point that they happen for a very specific reason; YOU. It may not sound like it but that’s actually good news because it is still an indication of how much control you have over your results, good or bad.

I am sure you have noticed the rapid-fire muttering at the end of a commercial selling a drug that will change your life, listing the possible side effects that they hope you will ignore. Whatever the details, the message is the same; if you want the good, you are also stuck with the bad. Side effects are things that you have to tolerate as the result of a benefit of something that you feel is worth the risk.

Burnout is mistakenly assumed to be a side effect that is an inevitable, automatic trade-off for progress. Big mistake! You do not have to surrender the true benefits of great practicing if you make good decisions and take steps to prevent burnout but these decisions ALWAYS need to be part of your training.

While symptoms are not fun, they are quite valuable because they get your attention to let you know something needs to be fixed. Take the empty gas gage on your car. You don’t want to see it indicating empty but it would be much worse if you didn’t have that warning or if you had the warning but ignored it. Also, unless your gauge is broken, you have to go somewhere else in the car, the gas tank, for the solution. Likewise, burnout needs to be treated as just a symptom that is warning you that something needs to be fixed and that something has to be consciously addressed.