My first lesson...
Had my first lesson yesterday after more than a year of teaching myself and reading/posting here.
I figured I would have more use for a teacher after I had some abilities and could strum and switch between a bunch of chords easily.
It was a one hour lesson....he told me to change all of my scales to alternate picking for a smoother sound, taught me a new strumming pattern and a new moveable minor scale to practice....that was the end of the lesson, $35 dollars later. Those things I could have and would have gotten here....sure seems a lot of money for what I got. I didn't know what to expect from a lesson and feeling unsure if I should continue with this teacher. But what did I expect to learn in only an hour, I don't know. I guess this is what lessons are, help from someone with experience over a long period of time and a heck of a lot of cash.
If it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.
You're also just getting to know each other. Give it some time and see how things develop. As your teacher gets to know you better and your interests and abilities, the lesson can be better tailored to suit your needs. Typically in a first lesson, the teacher is still trying to assess your playing and get a handle on what you can do.
Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon
There are a lot of reasons to use a teacher... but the 'information gathering' of things like a scale fingering isn't really one of them (as you pointed out, you could easily learn the minor scale fingering on your own)
The biggest reason to use a teacher is to prevent problems in technique that won't be apparent when you learn from other sources. Yes, you could discover online or in a book that alternate picking will give you a smoother sound - but would you be aware that your sound wasn't smooth to begin with? Or the options you have to correct it? I make dozens of suggestions each week on things like posture; the students may not even be aware that they're being 'taught' by a comment of a few words, but it makes a difference in how they'll play in the future.
Next would be planning out a sequence of events for you... sure, you can learn all the scales and chords from diagrams. Can you place those items in an order that makes sense? If you pick up three different method books, you'll see the same things presented, but in a different order. Although each student will eventually learn all those things, a good teacher adjusts the order to build on your strengths, and logically attack your weaknesses.
Third would be the expectation of learning at a certain rate. You can learn a scale fingering on your own, but will you learn one each week? With the teacher you will - you've spent your money on it, and he probably won't show you another one until you've mastered this one. (In your first lesson he also didn't want to overwhelm you - I was also self-taught to begin with, and at my first lesson I was shown FIVE scale fingerings. That was so much information it was useless, if that makes sense!) If you do the material he's shown you flawlessly at next week's lesson, I'll bet he picks up the pace a bit.
Fourth is a demonstration model. You can read all you want about vibrato, for instance, and hear it on recordings, but there's nothing like seeing it done to make it 'click'. That's true of a lot of techniques - you learn faster when you bring as many senses as possible to the process, and being able to see it, hear it, and read it at the same time is pretty valuable.
Finally, you've got a cheerleader. Somebody to encourage you when the material is tough, excite you with new material, answer questions as they arise, and help you see when things need more work.
Music lessons are expensive, no question. Weekly lessons run $1000 a year or more. The guitar also happens to be an easy instrument to play - basic chords can easily be learned from a book. It's also one of the most difficult instruments to master... which is why you'll find tons of beginner/intermediate guitarists who are self taught, and very few exceptional guitarists who didn't have professional instruction.
From the other side of the music stand, as a teacher I don't sell knowledge - I rent my time to students to help them get knowledge. I have a couple students who don't practice much... and I almost feel like a thief taking their money, because they're not getting much for it. A teacher, like a method book, is a resource - its up to the student to use that resource and not squander it.
Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL
good words, tom... especially you last two paragraphs
i am this close (holding my thumb and index finger very close together) to nailing down an instructor... i am on a wait list at a local music shop and was told that i would likely be able to begin in february... your words helped me realize that after about a year of self-teaching and piggy-backing off of another's lessons, that i do indeed need an instructor
Tom thanks for the post, I've been taking lessons about four months, last week, I thought I would surprise my teacher with "my version of Blackbird" The next song we were to learn. I had looked up the tab and had what I thought was a pretty good version going, when I showed it to him,he ask who showed me the fingering I was using, proudly I said ME, "it's wrong he said" but I'm plying the same notes, "It's wrong" he explained there was a right way a wrong way and "daves way (me)" he said he wanted to teach me the right way, after that I could do as I like.
At first I was like,what difference does it make, my way seems much easier, but I know what he is teaching me is more than a song, it's a building block for things to come, so I'm learning blackird again, his way.
To the original poster, I suggest paitence with your teacher, give it a few months and see if you playing improves, I've been taking lessons for a few months and there are some weeks when I feel like man I got nothing out of that, but some weeks I pick up something really cool.
Best of luck
As a wannabe guitar instructor, you have defined my new words to live by, Tom:
...as a teacher I don't sell knowledge - I rent my time to students to help them get knowledge. ... A teacher, like a method book, is a resource - its up to the student to use that resource and not squander it.
Truly words to live by. If you're a guitar instructor anyways. :D
Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life...
Thanks Tom. That is encouraging. As I said in my first post, I was not sure what I expected to learn in an hour and this is new to me.
I do know I need outside help and it really did matter that I am able to play what he teaches me with some practice because I decided to get through the frustrating part of playing chords first on my own. My learning rate has improved greatly the past couple of months.
I will stick with it and be alert and make sure I can play what he taught me in the previous lesson.....strange to worry about that at 42 years old...to know that if I don't practice and do my 'homework', he will immediately know when he asks me to play the previous lesson and that would be embarrassing for me, unless it was something I gave an honest effort but was too difficult for whatever reason.
If it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.
well I agree with JosephLefty
paying for something he can from here for nothing is not really a good thing
Yeah Baby Yeah
Well, the things I learned I could have gotten through my modem and self taught is good to a point just to get past the chord switching thing and developing some basic skills and knowledge.
As I mentioned, I just didn't know what to expect from lessons being the first time and we all NEED lessons and the input of a real person.
The minor scale he taught I can now do (only forward so far) in 2 days because of my basic skills but at the same time it was difficult because I had to correct a problem and re-train my picking hand to do it with alternate picking, something I was NOT doing on my own and didn't know I should have been alternate picking for all of my scales.
It will soon be clear that lessons are the way to go when I am playing some songs fluently. I know I will move forward. Practice time is very short for many of us and we have to eventually look to make every minute count in order to move forward or we will get bored/frustrated and in danger of putting the guitar down and not picking it up again.
If it was easy it wouldn't be worth doing.