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How to choose a guitar teacher

The electric guitar has advanced far beyond the time when someone could teach himself (or herself) to become a world class player. If your ambition is to become a competent player and a competent musician, you need a competent teacher. Even if your goals are more modest, you can reach those goals far more quickly, easily and efficiently with the guidance of the right teacher.

Guitar teacher

Much of the information needed to learn about guitar playing (and music in general) is available from many different sources. There are hundreds of books, instructional videos, CD-ROMs and, of course, the Internet. Even though a lot of information is readily available, there exists a lot of incorrect, incomplete and otherwise bad information (this is especially true for a lot of information found on the Internet!).

You will need the aid of an excellent teacher to teach you how to fully understand and apply the correct information. You can save yourself a lot of unnecessary frustration and disappointment by studying with a good teacher. Remember that textbooks, CD-ROMs, instructional videos and the Internet cannot answer your specific questions. They cannot offer you advice on your playing, song writing, ear training, etc. They cannot listen to your playing and point out any mistakes or flaws that may be present. Some textbooks are great and I have seen some pretty good CD-ROMs out there too, but you still need the aid of an excellent teacher to guide you through everything and to help you develop your abilities and musicianship correctly and efficiently.

Great teachers manage and schedule new materials and effectively explain their importance and meaning. A teacher should encourage you when you are doing well and correct you when you make mistakes. Good teachers will show you how to better organize your practice materials and show you how to effectively manage your practice time (this is crucial to your progress!). They help you build up your confidence level (even if you are not consciously aware that this is happening). A great teacher will help you become secure with your technical skills so that you can execute difficult techniques on your guitar comfortably. These teachers emphasize creativity (songwriting and improvising) and performing.

Great teachers want to make sure that you fully understand what you are learning and, most importantly, teach you how to apply it by giving you detailed explanations and encouraging you to ask questions when something is unclear. A good teacher sincerely cares about your musical growth and development. An experienced and competent teacher will take you far beyond what you could learn on your own. Unfortunately, guitar teachers are not licensed and there is no organization that oversees or regulates them. Anyone can claim to be a good teacher and there are lots of people who make this claim. The number of competent teachers, however, is limited.

This brings us to this crucial question: how can a student find, choose, and then accurately evaluate a guitar teacher? Here are some questions that you should ask any teachers you are considering studying with. I have also included my own comments for each question:

1) Can you please tell me about your teaching experience? May I see your resume or credentials? How long have you been teaching and approximately how many students have you taught during that time?

At least three to five years of teaching experience is preferred – certainly no less than one year of experience. Prefer a teacher who has taught a moderate to large number of students. It takes time for a teacher to truly learn how to teach well, and the main way that someone learns to teach is by teaching for a while.

The students of a new teacher are like experiments. These teachers are learning how to teach on the job by trial and error. They need time to learn how to teach, and will make some mistakes in the beginning of their careers. You don’t want to be one of those first thirty to fifty students. Let a new teacher gain his or her experience by making mistakes with someone else.

2) Do you teach private lessons or group lessons?

You definitely want private lessons, unless you are a total beginner or are enrolled in a college music course. You will learn a lot more about playing guitar in a one-on-one private lesson or in a correspondence lesson program.

3) What styles of music do you teach best?

Make sure you ask this question before telling the prospective teacher what style of music you want to learn. A lot of teachers claim to teach all styles well. Beware of this. Do not be impressed by someone who tells you that he or she can teach every style of music well.

If you really want to be a great rock guitarist, take lessons from a rock teacher, not a blues or country player who claims to teach all styles well. Find yourself a good rock teacher. If you want to learn multiple styles of music that are not similar (like country, classical and heavy metal) take lessons from more than one teacher for each of those styles. Unless you are a total beginner, you are better off with an expert teacher in your style of music, not a jack-of-all-trades teacher.

4) What is the cost of lessons?

Excellent teachers are in demand and usually already have a lot of students. These teachers often are not cheap. I can tell you that the going rates for good teachers in the Midwestern United States (where I live) is between $16-$24 per 1/2 hour private lesson (rates may be different in your state or country). There are a handful of teachers offering correspondence lessons for students who do not live in the same state or country as the teacher. Usually these lessons are less expensive in the long run (read more about correspondence lessons later). In general, don’t look for the teacher with the lowest rates; you usually get what you pay for. If you can’t afford to pay the higher rates for a really good teacher, ask the teacher if you can take lessons on a bi-monthly basis instead of taking weekly lessons.

5) Can you tell me how you teach the lessons?

This is probably the most important question you can ask a teacher. The answer to this question can help you determine if a teacher is competent, because this is actually a trick question. Anyone can tell you they have been teaching for 100 years, they have had 10,000 students and the cost is $1,000 per lesson because they are the greatest teacher of all time. But an inexperienced teacher cannot trick you with his or her answer to this question (unless he or she is reading this article.)

If a prospective teacher who does not know you, your musical knowledge, your guitar technique, your musical tastes, and your musical goals tries to explain how he or she will teach you, this is not a competent teacher. Not even the best teacher on Earth could answer this question if that teacher knows nothing about you, your goals, your playing level, your knowledge of music theory, etc.

So what would an experienced and competent teacher say to you when you ask the question? Well, I can tell you what I do when a new prospective student asks me this. I explain to him or her that I can’t formulate a lesson plan for anyone until I learn a lot more about that student’s playing, goals, musical tastes, knowledge of theory, etc.

To my correspondence students (whom I don’t see face to face), I send a long list of questions about everything I need to know about their music background. This helps me determine the best way for us to begin. I also encourage the student to send me a tape or CD of his or her playing with a variety of his or her playing on it so I have a clearer picture of what areas need improvement.

Obviously, for my private students (whom I do see face to face), I can simply ask the questions that I need answers to. And I can hear the student play in front of me. Only after all of this can I (or any other teacher) truly know how to teach that individual student. It seems obvious that you shouldn’t teach a 13-year-old-boy who has never played guitar before and wants to learn to play alternative rock the same way that you would teach a 27-year-old-man who has been playing for 16 years and wants to become a virtuoso in the style of Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen.

In addition to asking the questions above, here are some other things to watch out for:

When students ask how to approach a certain technique or how to hold the pick correctly or how to most effectively mute strings that are not supposed to be sounding, the advice of some teachers is to do whatever feels natural to you. Sometimes what you may think is the natural way to hold your left hand may not be the correct way at all. It is the teacher’s job to know those types of things. The teacher should be teaching, not letting you do whatever you feel like doing. For most things, there is a right and wrong way and you will be better off learning it the right way from the beginning.

A teacher may have some talented students, but this does not mean the teacher is good. This might seem like good criteria for evaluating a teacher, but the fact is that sometimes advanced students were already good players before taking lessons from the new teacher. The only time you can judge a teacher’s teaching skills, based on his or her students’ playing skills, is when those advanced students have been taking lessons from the same teacher since they were beginners.

Some teachers tell their students to learn from as many sources as possible and then leave it up to you to sort through it all and decide what works best for you. How are you supposed to decide that? How is a student to know what the best fingering is for a particular scale? Students typically won’t know how to determine what the right way is. This is one of the reasons you have a teacher. It is his or her job to teach you these things. This is why you are giving the teacher your money!

Do not assume that someone is a good teacher just because he or she may be an excellent player or has good credentials. I know plenty of competent players with advanced music degrees whom I don’t believe are good teachers. I was fortunate to have some truly great teachers, but I had some incompetent ones too, along the way. Whenever I realized that a teacher wasn’t good, I looked for a new teacher.

The following things are not required for someone to be a good teacher, but it certainly is to your advantage to have a teacher who, in addition to teaching you about guitar and music, can help you in some of these other ways:

1) Guitar Pedagogy – This is learning how to teach guitar. If one of your goals is to be a guitar or music teacher, then you would benefit greatly from a teacher who can show you how to teach a variety of techniques, music theory, ear training, songwriting, improvisation, etc. You will also need to learn about how to deal with a wide variety of personality types. Every student is different. Each student learns and comprehends information in different ways. It is important for any teacher to understand this. You need to know how to explain the same information in several different ways so you can teach all of your students well.

2) Recording advice – The better you become as a musician, the more likely it will be that you will want to record your guitar playing. If you have little or no experience in this area, then having someone who can help you is especially helpful.

3) Music business – If you plan to record, release and sell your own CD, now or in the future, there is a huge amount of music business information that you will need to learn if you want to make any money. Some teachers who have released their own CDs, and are promoting it themselves, can be the best source of help for selling your CD. You can also learn other things like how to set up gigs for your band and how to get the press to write about you.

Now that you have a better idea about what to look for in a teacher, the next question is, where do you look for a good teacher? This depends on if you are looking for a teacher to teach you privately (face to face) or if you are looking for a teacher to teach you through correspondence. Both are good and there are advantages to both ways.

If you are looking for a private teacher to teach you face to face, check out these places first: Contact the music department at universities and colleges near you. Even if they can’t help you directly, they can usually refer you to someone who can help. Next, you can try your local music shops (where guitars are sold). Most music shops offer lessons. And most of the teachers found here are not of the highest quality, but sometimes there are great teachers you can find at these shops.

When you call one of these shops, ask to speak to the manager or owner. Find out from him or her exactly who are the most qualified teachers for you (your style of music and skill level). After you get the teachers’ names, make arrangements to speak to each of the teachers privately. Ask those teachers all of the questions we’ve gone over above. If you are not satisfied with any of those teachers, keep looking.

If you are looking for correspondence lessons, your search will be a little different (and these lessons are usually a little cheaper in the long run). You can look on the Internet for these types of teachers and you can also contact universities (in any part of the world). The best thing about correspondence lessons is that you can take lessons from any teacher in the world (that teaches via correspondence)! What I would look for in a correspondence teacher is someone who has been doing this type of teaching for a while, someone who always allows you to ask questions about your lesson via e-mail or telephone (for no additional charge!).

I personally don’t think that courses (like CD-ROM courses) are a good idea because they don’t provide the private and individual instruction needed to learn in the most efficient way. Even though correspondence lessons are not face to face, the lessons should be personalized for you, your skill level, your musical knowledge, your style of music and your musical goals.

Stay away from a one-size-fits-all method or the cookie-cutter style courses. Everyone is different and is at a different level, has different musical goals, and likes different music. So the lessons (whether face to face or correspondence) should be tailored specifically to your needs.

After teaching guitar and music for over 11 years now, I can tell you that using the information above can make a huge difference in finding an experienced high quality teacher. An incompetent teacher can severely hinder your ability to fully develop your guitar and music skills. If you are not progressing well, but you are spending a lot of time practicing, find another teacher.

Several Ways On Improving Your Marriage Instantly

Marrieds

To maintain the passion and love in marriage, it is up to the husbands and wives.

One thing about marriage, it should be enjoyable! It must be stimulating! It is time to put a spark in your marriage whether you are on your honeymoon, or already been married for so many years! It is time to prove to your man that you love him more today, than you did yesterday!

There are some approaches to enliven your marriage. Firstly, make time for each other. You can be very busy because of your schedules particularly when you already have children but you should make time for each other. Whether anytime of the day, check at your schedules and find some time for just the two of you. Next, arrange an spontaneous date. These can be so exciting! Surely, he will love it! And it also be so pleasing to be together without any interruptions. Put the phones away, find a babysitter and get pleasure from one another. The recipe is so simple.

Another approach is welcome him and say goodbye in a different way. Rather than kissing him hello and goodbye hastily, modify it up a bit. Don’t merely sit there when he arrives, get up and hug him. In place of merely shouting goodbye from the upstairs, go down and wave goodbye. Likewise murmur in his ear and say to him to take care. Next is hug in the morning. The house is still quiet, bend and relax your head on him. Sleep and enjoy embracing each other. Another one is celebrate all events and any other random date on the calendar that you can consider. It is so enjoyable to have a good time! These occasions can be memorable to your family. Your kids will remember this until the day they build their own family.

Men want to make women happy. If it seems like happiness is a hopeless situation in his own marriage, he might see to make another woman happy outside of his marriage (a colleague, an old friend or even escort girl…). Marital infidelity is one of the most traumatic of all life experiences. The solution is simple – enjoy the life with your partner, let the healing begin and repair things instead of buying new ones.

A Journey To Happiness And Balance

Why go through all the trouble of working hard and being successful if it won’t make you a happier person? That is the question noted author and leadership expert David Fischman asks of readers in his new book “The Secret of the Seven Seeds” (Jossey-Bass, $22.95).

First published in Latin America, this engaging book tells of the successful entrepreneur and writer’s personal struggle for happiness in his out-of-control life.

In it, Fischman reveals his personal story through the fictional character Ignacio Rodriguez, who, like many businesspeople from New York to New Delhi, is desperately trying to keep up with the speed of life.

The 40-something stressed-out entrepreneur is utterly overwhelmed, at risk for a heart attack, losing money at his business and has no time or energy for his family. His doctor recommends that he try meditation to regain balance in his demanding life.

A Spiritual Guide

Instead, Ignacio’s journey leads him to a spiritual guide, who helps him heal by finding his path in the secret of the seven seeds, which represent self-knowledge, meditation, egolessness, service to others, goodness, balance and freedom.

“‘The Secret of the Seven Seeds’ begs the question: Why go through all the trouble of working hard and being successful if it won’t make you a happier person?” said Fischman about writing a book mostly based on his life. “The old clich

happiness

When All Is At Hand In The Kitchen

Despite technological progress of the last decades, work at the kitchen remains hand work. The results of researches showed that when a kitchen is not designed properly it is possible to run a few miles around it having to return to the same workplace, to bend and to squat, and cooking and doing dishes can last for hours! If you are trying to loose weight, it can help. But agree that a kitchen is not the best gym.

Water in kitchen
Experiments showed that due to the reasonable kitchen design it is possible to economize up to 60% of distance and 30% of time. We have already written about main kitchen design methods, and equipment placement. In this article we will tell you about modern methods of reasonable placement of kitchen appliances that will also considerably save our efforts and time.

It is true not only about small kitchens. Large kitchen can be a problem as well. In wide kitchens a distance between objects can be so considerable, that the owners have to walk a lot between a cooker, sink, fridge and dinner-table. Often, buying a multi-unit kitchen furniture set, it is still necessary to move around in a kitchen trying not to touch or drop anything. Money is wasted on unnecessary meters of cupboards, but still there is no comfort. In fact the keystone of comfort is reasonable use of every square inch. Following the recommendations of ergonomics specialists, leading manufacturers of the world introduce interesting decisions, helping to use kitchen space in full.

First of all professionals advise us to adhere to the sequence of workplaces according to the process of cooking:

1. fridge, placed in the area of products storage;

2. workplace for the first cleaning of products;

3. washing of product, placing a bin there;

4. final preparation of product, cutting, chopping and etc.;

5. cooking;

6. dish serving.

Researches showed that only 20% of people keep all necessary things in a kitchen. Even those things that should always be at hand, such as plates, cups, pans, forks, spoons, electric devices are kept in spare places. Small necessary kitchen things, such as glue, cello tape, scissors, and lighters are kept all over the flat, and are always missing when the most needed. Reasonable internal fitting of modern kitchen furniture set of the best manufacturers makes it possible to keep everything in order, to save time and efforts of the owners. Thanks to this it is possible to use 99,9% of internal space of furniture set.

To save space modern furniture sets are equipped with various shelves, sliding boxes, reticulated pallets and trays. Construction of wall cupboards makes it easy to access things. Doors easily slide to one side, fold vertically, and are not in the way, when opened, the special systems allow fixing a door at necessary height. By the way, cupboards can carry up to 180 pounds

The Nylon String Acoustic Guitar

The nylon string acoustic guitar has a softer, mellower sound than the steel string guitar. Strangely, modern audiences can still be spellbound by the depth of feeling of a nylon string guitar. It’s entirely up to you which one you choose to play. I could cite a list of artists who used either nylon or steel string for this or that record, and make a wild guess or two at why the artists made the choices they did, but the bottom line is that if you want a deep, quiet sound that doesn’t compete with your singing, the nylon string guitar is the way to go.

When you go out to buy a guitar, go past the general music store and on to your local guitar dealer if you have one. That way you will have a guitar expert guiding you and not some dufus who only plays two-and-a-half chords. Don’t let the guy in the store automatically steer you to the top-of-the-range guitars, and equally don’t succumb to your inner cheapskate. Pick a guitar that you like the look, sound and feel of, then come down in price range if you really need to.

guitar

To get some idea of the range you could be looking at, the Alvarez Masterworks Series MC90 Classical Guitar, a more pricey instrument, has solid rosewood back and sides, western cedar top with precision scalloped bracing, mosaic rosette and gold tuning pegs with tortoise buttons and sells for over $600. The Alvarez Regent, a beginner’s model, is about $150. Of course there are many grades of price and quality in between.

The kinds of music that the nylon string guitar was designed for are classical and flamenco music. Classical guitar music is classical music composed for other instruments but arranged for the guitar, and classical style pieces composed especially for the guitar or other stringed instruments. There is a wide repertoire of music composed in the medieval or renaissance eras for the vihuela or mandolin and arranged for the guitar which can be extremely enjoyable and satisfying to play. Flamenco music is a folk music of Spain, and is usually comparatively technically advanced simply due to flamenco being a “flashy” kind of music. If you are interested in exploring either of these kinds of music I suggest you go to YouTube and check out the classical or flamenco guitar videos. John Williams (the British guitarist, not the Starwars guy) and Julian Bream are two obvious starting points for classical guitar. Paco De Lucia, Paco Pena and Sabicas will open your heart to flamenco.

We can’t finish without mentioning the nylon string guitar-driven folk music boom of the 1960’s which has given us a lot of great music which can be easily picked up by beginner guitarists. The music of Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Joan Baez or The Kingston Trio still holds some interest for modern guitarists.

So that is an overview of the world of the nylon string guitar. I hope you have found something to spark your interest.