One of the most important factors in determining your success as a student guitarist is finding the right teacher for you, and many prospective students rightly prioritize this. I want to talk a bit about how I approach guitar lessons, where I might differ from other teachers, and how I might be the right teacher for you. For those of you reading who are teachers, I want to share some tips on what I find works best for improving your students’ abilities.
My philosophy and approach can be described as a coaching style. In other words, I like to incorporate a lot of doing in my lessons. Music is kind of like sports, where we train our body to make precise and accurate movements, and it’s important not to get too caught up in the theory before you can actually play something. I firmly believe that the main barrier between your musical conception and execution is your technique. If your technique is sound, then it is only a matter of time and practice to execute any piece of music. In a one hour lesson, this might mean I spend up to 45 minutes of actual practicing and playing. What we do in a lesson is how I want a student to practice at home.
Another role I find myself in, is the role of the problem solver. Every student will have unique obstacles that need to be overcome. If they’re common problems, they are easy to solve. Unique ones will take experience and a keen sense of observation to understand and solve the problems that a student may encounter. I will also get my students to try and solve problems on their own, with my guidance. My goal is to have students eventually become their own teachers, so that they may continue on their musical journey long after we’ve parted ways.
The greatest gratification I get from teaching is when I see a student’s face light up with excitement and joy from overcoming a challenge they work so hard at. It’s only then when I feel like I’ve actually contributed something meaningful to someone’s life, which is my core motivation. With the right mindset, music can be an endlessly challenging and rewarding experience throughout your entire life. The cycle I try to establish is something like: identifying the challenge – overcoming the obstacle – enjoy a sense of accomplishment – get motivated to take on more challenges. I want to destroy a student’s preconceived notions about what they believe they are capable of, in order to achieve things they wouldn’t have even thought of.
If these are points that resonate with you, feel free to inquire about lessons in the Toronto area. Hopefully we’ll be a good match!