Five Of The Perils Of Being A Guitar Teacher
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Job. Seeing someone go from playing the first few tentative notes of Smoke On The Water to shredding their way through Purple Haze is one of the most rewarding things in life, BUT, being a guitar tutor in 2017 does present some problems….
1 Attention span in lessons
You do get the sense that technology and millions of ever-increasing brain-clogging stimuli that steals your pupil’s attention on a regular basis. (I sound like an old man, I’m only 24, I promise).
Recently I have found that my lessons are run on a basis of intervals where every 10 to 15 minutes, guitar playing is replaced by joke telling and reciting of the school day’s events. It’s either this or you find some way of turning learning guitar into some strange gobbledygook with some hidden tab reading/guitar tips.
2 Getting your students to practice
When the Playstation is sat in the corner calling you to find that last egg on Spyro The Dragon (again I am 24, honest), you can see why picking up your guitar and stretching your hand beyond reason into the perfect C major, putting yourself through agony (worse than doing the splits apparently) doesn’t seem the most appetising idea in the world.
You need to engage your students in something that they really want to learn, tell them that their mates will lose their mind if they hear them play sweet child of mine, give them some incentive. That the cool girl in the year above likes guitar…
3 Argos budget guitars
OKAY… compared to all other problems… forget the actual teaching itself, forget the lazy students… the real bane of a guitar teachers life is that horrible, nylon strung, ply wood, thick necked monstrosity with strings that sit about 3 miles away from the neck. Not even Jimi Hendrix himself could play a solo on that thing…
And this is what young students get to learn on 9 times out of 10 because they’re affordable and advertised as being a first guitar and THEY’RE PRACTICALLY UNPLAYABLE.
So you let them play your American Strat for the lesson… WHAT ABOUT WHEN THEY GO HOME!? Then they’re left trying to play that amazing run from stairway to heaven on a piece of cardboard with strings floating 12 foot above it!
4 Every Apple Does Go Bad Eventually
A mild frustration linked to cheap guitars. Teaching your student to tune their guitar, tuner or no tuner, seems physically impossible until it one day just clicks. Keeping your cheapo ply wood guitar in tune is another matter, an eternal struggle between the powers of tunefulness and the gremlins of weak and flimsy tuning pegs.
Until then you are in a perpetual fight against the fact that as soon as your student gets home everything they play probably sounds dreadfully out of tune. Why can’t guitars stay tuned!?
5 Ed Sheeran
DISCLAIMER : I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH ED, in fact, I have the upmost respect for what a Suffolk boy and a little acoustic guitar have achieved. He’s more famous than the queen for god sake BUT teaching the same D, F#, G, A, D chord structure for Thinking Out Loud for the tenth time is a bit of a arrrrrrgh moment.
All-in-all, I actually quite like teaching guitar: it’s a journey, I’m sure most teachers feel the same! It has its flaws like any job, but when it goes well, and you’re jamming along playing the blues with someone half your size, it’s all worth it.