Here are some tips for parents to evaluate potential teachers, understand your role in your child’s lessons, and to help find a qualified acim teacher. So you’ve decided to seek out a qualified guitar instructor for your child. Where to start? Well, some choices are to use search engines, phone books, local music stores, and local schools and colleges to find a teacher near you. The challenge, however, is to find someone who is both well qualified and enjoys teaching children. How do you know if a teacher is well qualified you ask? Good question. There is no governing board for private guitar teachers that specifies a specific education or certification requirement, so you have to inquire about your teacher’s background yourself.
Some considerations when selecting a guitar teacher for your child should include the following:
1) How long has the potential teacher been teaching full time? It takes several years and hundreds of students to really learn how to teach effectively, regardless of the teacher’s formal education. A teacher learns the most common problems and their solutions during the first few years of teaching and will generally be a much better teacher at 3 years than when they first started.
2) Does the teacher feel that your child should learn to read notes, learn musical terms, and music theory? They should. I think there’s nothing wrong with a teacher showing some things by rote or using alternate notation methods occasionally such as tablature to keep a child’s interest, but the focus should be on learning standard notation. There’s no replacement for notation when it comes to laying the foundation for complete musical understanding. The exception would be very young students being taught in the Suzuki method, where the student is taught by rote initially with standard musical notion being brought in later.
3) Does the teacher’s own background illustrate that they have training in these areas? It’s a safe bet that teachers with music degrees specifically in guitar are qualified in this area. It’s harder to evaluate teachers without degree’s in these areas, but this does not disqualify them, just as a degree does not automatically qualify a teacher. Having a degree simply makes it more likely that they will have the necessary knowledge to effectively teach your child. You must ask them about their experience and evaluate their abilities first hand to see that they are knowledgeable. This can be tough to evaluate if you have no musical training, so tread carefully as there are many people that market themselves as guitar teachers that are not very good in these areas. Don’t get fooled by marketing. Evaluate their resume and experience. For example: A local teacher that plays in the local church’s worship band may be a fine guitar player for that style and a nice person, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify them as a guitar teacher for your child. They may know little of music theory, note reading, or other styles of music.
4) Do you want your child to learn classical guitar? If so, then you need a classical guitarist, period. This is a very specific field of study that requires extensive and specific training. Don’t trust someone that says they teach classical guitar that does not have a degree in classical guitar from a reputable institution. Classical guitarists are often proficient in and teach many popular styles as well, but really are the only ones to go to when it comes to learning classical guitar.
5) What if I want my child to be a rock/pop guitar player or singer-songwriter, do they really need to know all of this stuff? Yes, you should still encourage note reading! There’s no way it’s going to hurt someone’s development. The idea that formal music training might stifle creative development is something as a guitarist I’ve heard before but believe is a misguided notion coming from the guitar being part of our popular culture, often being taught by rote, and compounded by the existence of talented and successful singer-songwriters that have little formal music education. This can give people the impression that note reading is simply not necessary. The truth is that note reading will help your child better facilitate the writing process, but also prepare them for a broader musical life that may include teaching, studio playing, composing, transcribing, etc. Would the Beatles have been as good without the help of their classically trained composer/producer George Martin? I don’t think so and neither does the famous guitarist Jeff Beck. You’re paying top dollar for guitar lessons for your child, so why limit their musical future?