Thursday, June 23, 2011

Your first and most important guitar lesson

When students attend their first guitar lesson most are eagerly expecting a bunch of exercises that will set them on the path to success. The truth is while exercises are definitely important your first lesson should include a large dose of understanding about what makes a successful guitarist. Anyone can do exercises yet only a small percentage of people ever achieve their goals on the guitar and understanding what the successful guitarists do differently will give you an advantage from the very first lesson.

Deliberate Practice

Becoming a proficient guitarist is firstly about establishing the habit of practicing like a proficient guitarist. The difference between the novice and proficient guitarist is deliberate practice. The term 'deliberate practice' refers to a style of practice that is all about being aware of your practice as you go through the motions. In other words don't just play a chord progression but closely analyze how you can improve it. Are your fingers sitting close to the frets? Can you improve the speed at which you move from one chord to any other chord?

Old habits die hard

I think it's important to point out that establishing a new habit  like deliberate practice is no easy task. Whenever we set out to establish a new habit we have to remember that we need to make time by dropping usually another already established habit. For example you may be exchanging your precious relaxation time for guitar practice. In the early stages when you are motivated it seems easy to give up 30 minutes of chill time for guitar practice. Can you hear yourself saying "I've had a tough day at work/school and I'm just not in the right mood for guitar practice today so I think I will skip it."  Almost without noticing 3 or 4 days have slipped by and somehow no guitar practice has been done yet on closer inspection the lounge and TV have received their usual daily attention.

What is going on?

Established habits require little if any conscious thought but if we think new habits will just form themselves we will likely be disappointed. You probably can't even remember the experience of taking a shower on any given day last week but you know you did because it's a habit. You see your brain automates much of what it can so as to leave you to worry about the events that are not habitual such as finishing a school or work assignment or getting tickets to a concert that are predicted to sell out within hours of going on sale. Because habits run on automatic programs in the background they are hard to erase. Erasing and replacing takes constant awareness and effort.

From 9% to 100% compliance

The question of how to erase and replace is a difficult one but let's look at a positive example and see if we can then apply it to guitar. In one study using cameras around the wash basins in a hospital doctors were found to only washed their hands a mere 9% of the time. In an effort to change this habit the management at one hospital in California decided to try to improve their hand washing rate by implementing a new strategy. They ended up achieving a 100% compliance rate from staff. An incredible turn around. How did they do it?

A formula for establishing new habits

There were 4 key steps to their winning strategy;

1. Make it easy. They put hand sanitizers all around the hospital.
2. Be supportive. Doctors who were found washing their hands were rewarded with a gift voucher such as a Starbucks voucher.
3. Motivate. Images of live bacteria were displayed around the hospital motivating doctors to act.
4. Repetition and consistency. Habits form when we repeat the action for a period of time especially on a consistent basis.

Let's apply this to guitar.

1. Make it easy - Keep your guitar on a stand and if possible create a dedicated area for practicing. Have your music on a good quality music stand and everything you need on hand. Its even worth making copies of material you are practicing so it can stay permanently in your practice area while the other copy can go with you to lessons. When your practice material is staring you in the face it makes it very easy. I also suggest you allow sometime each day to make sure your practice area is clean, organized and ready.

2. Be supportive - If possible surround yourself with supportive people. This is where a guitar teacher can make a big difference. Many guitar students think of their guitar teachers simply as providers of knowledge but your teacher plays an important support role as well. In fact this is probably the number one reason you should have a teacher. Of course friends and family are also an important part of your support team.

3. Motivate - Surround yourself with inspiring sights and sounds. Find music that inspires you and try to continue explore new music because you never know what you will find. It only takes one great song to fire you up when you are going through an inspirational dry spell. Images are also very powerful such as posters and videos in your practice room.

4. Repetition and consistency - The first 3 steps will get you thinking about your guitar practice on a daily basis but it's only when repetition and consistency kick in that you will see the habit take shape. Try to avoid seeing yourself as a failure if you do not reach the 4th step straight away. Keep going back to step 1 until you get it. In most cases if step 4 is not happening it means the first 3 steps need more work.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Priming yourself for guitar practice

In a university research study a class of students were instructed to look at the lecturer with interest when he was standing on the left side of the room and with disinterest when on the right side of the room. The lecturer was unaware of the experiment but gradually he spent more and more time on the left side of the room.  Follow link for more examples.

Understanding the unconscious mind

This experiment demonstrates the power of our environment and the role our unconscious mind plays in our own behaviour. It was the lecturers unconscious mind that directed him to favor the left side of the room.  Apparently our conscious brain can only process a very small amount of information opposed to our unconscious which takes in massive amounts of information. The understanding of the brain in recent years has come a long way and now brain researchers know that our unconscious mind controls much more of what we do then previously believed. So the question is how can we use this information to help us learn guitar?

Priming students to do more practice

Priming the unconscious brain is basically anything that sets the stage for an action. Priming doesn't guarantee an outcome but increases the chances of it occurring. Is it possible to prime ourselves for guitar practice? The above experiment gives us clues as to how it may be possible. Firstly I will apply it to teaching. Over the years I have noticed that teachers who focus positive attention on even the smallest of efforts from students in a particular area will usually see the student's confidence and therefore attention increase in that area. The best example is the 'Practice Log'. (Visit our G4 Downloads page for a free copy) G4 GUITAR teachers ask students to use the Practice Log to record their daily practice. Those teachers who diligently checks the Practice log each week and praise the efforts of their students find the majority of their students increase their practice times. The more positive attention from the teacher the more practice that gets done. Negative attention by the way usually works in reverse. "Why haven't you practiced?" results in less and less practice.

Give it time

Focus your attention on even the smallest of efforts and you will almost always see them grow.  Avoid being negative or berating yourself for not doing enough practice. Just keep filling in your times in your Practice log and acknowledging your effort. This doesn't mean you should delude yourself. Be honest of course. For example lets say you are doing 20 mins practice a week knowing that you should be doing at least a few hours to make any real progress. In this case just sit down and work out a schedule that will see you gradually increase your amount of practice. You don't have to suddenly do an hour of practice a day. Just add  a little each week until you reach your target. The key is to measure your practice time.

Focus on something. Anything!

Studies show that people who weight themselves daily are less likely to gain weight. By focusing on their desired weight they tend to stick to it. As a teen I began jogging in an effort to get fit. Initially I decided to go out one day and just do it but the result was always the same. I would last a few weeks and then get bored or distracted and stop. I would repeat this pattern every 6 months or so whenever I realized it was time to lose those extra kilos. It got to the point where whenever I began my jogging program I knew it was only a matter of time before I would quit. In my early 20's I began reading books on coaching and teaching to become a better guitar teacher. The message was almost always the same. 'You need to measure something. Anything.' It didn't matter what as long as it can be used to measurement growth. In the case of jogging I could measure time actually spent jogging, distance, speed or days jogged in a particular month. Once I began measuring I felt challenged to keep improving. It was the fact that I was keeping some kind of score that motivated me to go out and see if I could improve on my score. Without any system of measurement it just feels like another boring old pointless jog.

Pay attention to your unconscious mind

Our unconscious mind works much harder then our conscious so understanding this fact will give you an advantage to learning guitar. Everything from the music you hear to the images you see to the environment in which you practice will affect your long term success on guitar. Being aware of what your unconscious mind takes in may just make all the difference.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

The first 6 months of guitar is make or break

 "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will." Vincent T. Lombardi

Sadly the majority of people who decide to take up guitar will not get past the first 6 months. I came to realize this fact in my first few years of teaching after becoming increasingly frustrated with the number students who would give up in the early months. I remember going to my own teacher at the time and asking where I was going wrong only to be told "That's just how it is". Not long after I began teaching along side a piano teacher and noticed that very few of her students were dropping out. Was piano different to guitar or did this teacher know something I did not?

The piano teacher's secret

The piano teacher indeed did have a secret which I soon adopted into my own teaching and quickly found my student dropout rate plummeted. It was pretty simple really although initially counterintuitive to my beliefs at the time. The piano teacher was upfront with her students from the very first lesson. She would explain that learning piano was challenging and almost without a doubt you will want to give up within the first 6 months. The teacher than shocked me by saying that if they didn't feel they had what it takes to stick it at for at least one year it's best they don't even begin because they would only be wasting everyone's time and money.  At the time it seemed to me that such a speech would leave many students feeling despondent but as I began to apply a similar strategy there was a noticeable difference not just in dropout rates of my students but an increased commitment to practice.

The beginner fantasy

The reason such a strategy works is firstly because it is addresses the big problem. The fantasy about learning music. Almost every student who takes up guitar will want to give up in the first 6 months mostly because their fantasy of learning didn't match the reality.  In the words of Paco Pena guitar is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Its mostly hard word for a little pleasure especially in the first year. When the hours and hours of practice don't result in you being the next Jimi Hendrix giving up guitar will look like a good option. Understanding this fact before you even start will make all the difference. When you are under no illusions the journey will match your expectations much more accurately.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best

The above quote is one of my favourites. The  reason such a strategy works is because it prepares students for the future. When a student takes up guitar it is highly unlikely they are thinking about giving up. They are unprepared for giving up. It's only when the reality of daily practice and a lack of instant results sets in that the motivation begins to wear off that they are faced with the idea of giving up. When students understand what is coming they can prepare for it. I will even go as far as asking them what they will do when this day comes. Most are actually unsure and my advice is simply this. "Talk to me (your teacher) before doing anything. What I don't want you to do is to quit without giving me the chance to talk you out it."

Commit for 12 months and then decide

Another reason the strategy works so well is because students make a 12 month commitment. The first year is tough and students who go the distance are very unlikely to quit guitar at that point. 12 months is long enough to understand the process of learning guitar. The cause (daily practice) results in the effect (skill). It's also a long enough time to develop the long term habit of practice.


Finally I believe the strategy works because it gets to the heart of what learning guitar is all about from day one. Commitment. Success on guitar has nothing to do with natural ability and everything to do with your commitment to learning guitar. If you walk into your first lesson with the idea of finding out whether you have musical talent you will probably be disappointed because talent comes from practice and lots of it. Talent comes from hard work and there is so far very little evidence that great musicians are born. Find me a great musician who never practices and you will probably find a liar.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Progress Takes Time

I think its important to understand firstly that as a guitar student your first and only real priority is to practice. I say this because many guitar students are fixed on their progress. It's the classic "Are we there yet?" question. Many students are not interested in the journey, only the destination. Why is this such a problem you ask? Simple. You will spend 95% of your time on the journey. If you don't enjoy the journey it's going to be a very unpleasant experience. What matters most is a commitment to practice rather then worrying about progress. In fact I urge you to try and ignore your personal progress and instead focus on your practice. The more you can to focus on your practice the more likely you are to reach your goals.

 Progress is a distraction

The reason your focus should be on practice more so than progress is because this is something you have complete control over. I am not suggesting that progress is unimportant because it is of course the purpose to your practice but its best to leave the job of progress assessment to someone else. Preferably a qualified guitar teacher.   Progress is usually slow, unpredictable and relative. A focus on progress will be a roller coaster ride. You may or may not progress as quickly as you hoped. In most cases your progress will appear to come in short bursts. This is because you may need to practice say a scale 500 times before your fingers respond and another 5000 times to really get control. Even then you will have good and bad days.  So focus on say 30 minutes a day practice for a year and let progress come when it's good and ready.

Put your teacher is in charge of progress

Not only is it best to leave the job of assessing your progress to your teacher it should actually be a relief. Your teacher should have the experience to assess and guide your practice in the right direction. If you don't trust your teacher's judgement then it's time to find a new teacher. When it comes to your teacher trust is paramount. As discussed above your main job is to do the practice and let's be honest, you are really  not qualified to be assessing your progress because you don't  have the experience. Experienced teachers understand what to expect based on the amount of practice you do in an average week.

Keeping a practice log

You can help your teacher by keeping a practice log. Simply write in how many minutes you practiced each day. Visit the G4 GUITAR student website for a free download. The practice log allows your teacher to make an accurate assessment. If you are doing say 30 mins a day your teacher will have a certain expectation. If this expectation is not being met they can look more closely at what you are doing with your 30 mins each day. It's important to understand that the more your teacher knows about your practice habits the better. Turning up for your lesson and showing what you can do certainly gives your teacher a good idea of how you are progressing but with out some kind of time measurement there is nothing to base that progress on. If you were doing say 60 mins a day with poor practice habits you would still be progressing but your teacher might be assuming you are doing 20 mins a day based on your progress with out a practice log. Like any investment your teacher needs to know how much time you are investing to assess whether you are getting the best return.

Goals are important

I would like to point out that ignoring progress is not the same as ignoring your goals. It's important to keep your goals for guitar in mind when you practice but as a reminder of why you practice and how your practice relates to those goals. If in doubt about how your practice relates to your goals it is best to ask your teacher. In fact I recommend you do so anyway. Once a month simply ask your teacher "How does this exercise relate to my personal goals?"

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Seeking perfection on guitar

"Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything." - Eugene Delacroix (1798 - 1863)

There was a time when I believed being called a perfectionist was a compliment. To my former self perfectionism meant taking care of the details and never settling for anything less than a perfect result but as I came to realise this was not the best approach. Recent research has found that perfectionists are the most likely to actually never reach their goals and in extreme cases become frustrated and even depressed. If you have perfectionist tendencies and are learning guitar the following is worth noting.

Perfectionists don't take failure well

The first problem with perfectionism is it's lack of tolerance for failure. Those who are fixed on a perfect result in everything they do will spend most of their time being disappointed because perfect in anything is either unobtainable or comes at the end of a long and arduous quest. In other words perfection is only ever a fleeting moment at best. Imagine spending months practicing a song to perfection. You reach the perfect execution and for a brief time you can bask in perfection but within a relatively short period the song no longer excites you anymore than say your ability to walk. Yes there was a time when you could not walk and at around age 1 you perfected this skill. From that day forward the excitement of perfecting walking no longer thrilled you.

Try optimal rather than perfection

Tal Ben-Shahar Ph.D. is probably the world's No.1 expert on the subject of perfectionism. In his book 'The Pursuit of Perfect' he goes to great lengths to highlight the importance of pursuing optimal outcomes over perfect ones. An optimalist aims for the best outcome but is not obsessed with a perfect outcome. As an optimalist you see failure as the best outcome given the circumstances but more importantly you see failure not as failure but just as part of the journey and a chance to learn. Optimalists know that life is about the journey not the goal. We spend most of our life in the pursuit of goals and for brief moments we enjoy the achievements but we quickly move on to the next challenge. Those who do not enjoy the pursuit itself will spend much of their life in misery. The perfectionist tends to spend most of their time being unhappy because perfection is rare. Maybe 1% of one's life at best.

Paralyzed by the fear of failure

The perfectionist will often avoid attempting something for fear of failure. If they can't be perfect the first time it's safer just to avoid it. In terms of learning guitar the perfectionist will commonly make the mistake of trying to perfect each new skill or song each week before their next lesson. If the skill or song can't be perfected in time they will find an excuse to either skip the lesson or avoid having to play for the teacher. A perfectionist guitar student will often divert attention away from the challenge for fear of failure and might say something like " I really want to (or need to) learn a different song this week so could we take a look at that instead?" In many cases such tactics work especially with private guitar teachers who want to avoid making their students feel uncomfortable. A good teacher will see it for what it really is and  will look for ways to present the same challenges in a new and positive way.

Your inner perfectionist

I think we all have perfectionist tendencies and its really just a matter of being aware. As good as your teacher may be it is ultimately up to you or in the case of children their parents to recognise when you are perhaps expecting too much of yourself. Aim high but remember to aim for an optimal result rather than a perfect one. I remember hearing about a speech writer who at the time would write speeches for political leaders in the US. On this occasion he wrote a speech for Henry Kissinger and each time he presented the speech Kissinger would say "Is this the best you can do?" Feeling deflated he would go away and rewrite a new speech and again Kissinger would repeat "Is this the best you can do?" Eventually the speech writer said "I am sorry Sir but its the best I can do" and Kissinger replied by saying "Good. Well I will read it then".

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Why won't my child do her/his guitar practice?

Very good question and one that I often hear from frustrated parents. In fact all parents will usually have to ask this question at some point because rare is the child who conscientiously practices without the need for parent intervention. Let us say your 6 year old has come home from school all excited asking if they can learn guitar. Your initial response might be "Why not? Learning music is a good thing right?" My answer to that is yes it is good for any child BUT are you as a parent prepared to take on yet another activity? What do I mean? Well the fact is most parents of young children who take up learning guitar or any musical instrument for that matter don't realise that they are also signing up for  lessons except in a different role. Let me explain in more detail.

A child's success depends on at least one parent

When children go to school they are learning for around 25 hours a week. This amount of time ensures your child will learn regardless of parental support. With a weekly 30 minute guitar lesson this is most definitely not the case. The real work is done at home and it is usually done by at least one parent. Unfortunately a 30 minute lesson once a week with a teacher will not be enough to succeed on guitar. The minimum practice time required would be 1 to 2 hours per week preferably done by practicing on a daily basis and this needs to be monitored and supported by a parent. When it comes to learning guitar the success of your child is largely dependent on you the parent. 

Parent and child working together

My advice is to initially work with your child as a 50/50 partner by establishing a daily practice routine as you would with any daily task. E.g. Brushing teeth, getting dressed etc. Learning music requires self-discipline and most young children are still learning this all important life lesson. In fact learning to play guitar is one of the best ways for a child to learn self-discipline. You should expect your child to lose motivation at times but this is when they need your reassurance, encouragement and support. If you find you are still having difficulty getting your child to practice its time to talk to the teacher or feel free to email me.

Building your child's confidence

Some parents feel their child needs to want to learn guitar with out any need for them to be involved. I have met parents who quite clearly state "It's up to him/her. I am happy to pay for the lessons but he/she needs to show me they are committed by practicing". This approached is almost always doomed. It would be like giving your child a book and asking them to practice reading each day. They need your help.   The winning strategy is to be involved as much as possible at the beginning and gradually pull away as they learn to do it without you. Its all about confidence building.

The gift of guitar

The biggest and often most disappointing scenario I see is when a parent suddenly announces their child will no longer be learning guitar. In almost every case when there is an opportunity to investigate we find the child is not practicing and the parent has not spoken to the teacher about the problem.  Parents simply see their child is not enjoying the guitar so put an end to the apparent misery. With communication this can all be easily avoided. Our success rate when given the chance to understand the issues around practice are close to 100% so if you are a parent and getting your child to practice is an overwhelming challenge or your child does not appear to be enjoying the guitar please speak to your teacher or email myself. Personally I believe the greatest gift my parents gave me was the ability to play guitar and it was that ongoing support that made the difference.

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Focus on effort not results

" Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability." - Coach John Wooden

We live in a society that celebrates results.  Whether it be from our sports teams, our fitness program, school exams, our financial investments or hitting your targets at work. It seems everywhere we turn all that matters is whether we get the result. It's all about the bottom line they say. Most of us have come to see the world as divided into two camps. Winners and losers. But hang on! Didn't our parent's say when we were children "It's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game". This only served to confuse the matter even further because as children what we saw were winners being celebrated and losers being ignored or worse berated and/or humiliated. When we brought home a great school report card or a trophy for winning at our chosen sport our parents would be elated rewarding us with that new bike or game we wanted. When we watched sport or political elections the praise and rewards went to the winners. The Olympic medals go to the winners and they would return heroes. The losers are soon forgotten or some cases devastated.

How do we make sense of it all?

Despite the enormous praise beset upon winners almost all experts in the field of education agree that we should as much as possible focus on effort rather than results especially when it comes to children. While this may initially seem at odds with society it actually makes good sense. The above is only confusing because the media often leaves out the effort part of the equation. We rarely hear the whole story. The years of tedious practice along with rejection and failure that precede most great achievements only occasionally makes the news. In fact there is a part of us that secretly likes to believe that certain people are special. This allows us to justify our decision to watch TV instead of doing guitar practice.

Praising children for effort

I am going to use children as the example because we can all relate. You are either a child now or were once a child. When adults praise results children will come to believe that results are all that matter. It's a win or lose, pass or fail situation. They begin to associate their very identity with their results. If they fail they view themselves as a failure. Just as problematic is the child who is praised for winning. They essentially get the same message. While they may feel like a winner in the moment they still come to believe that their worth is measured by their results.

Results come from effort

As mentioned the real problem here is the student is not seeing the cause and effect. Olympic athletes or outstanding guitar players are not just born that way. They train hard for many years pushing themselves to the limit and beyond. When we praise results it leads children to believe that you either have the talent or you don't. Effort precedes results in almost every case. No effort, no results. When you praise effort they naturally want to put in more effort and more effort leads to improved results. It is true that praising results can at times lead to more results of course but usually only if they already realize that their results came from effort but there is more to the story.

The problem with praising winners

When we praise results and not effort children know that if they can find a way to bypass effort altogether and go straight to results they will save a lot of time.  Why bother with the effort when the results can be obtain without effort. We should therefore not be surprised when children cheat or cut corners. Why wouldn't they if the praise is in the results. Focusing your praise on a child's effort will see them increasing this effort.

What about the so called 'Gifted children'

As a guitar teacher I have on occasion seen students who have never picked up a guitar and within weeks are playing better than most students who have been learning for months. This can happen due to early exposure to guitar or music in general. Perhaps a parent or sibling at home already plays or perhaps they just have some unexplained gift (rare but it does happen). With these kinds of students it would be very easy for myself as a teacher to fall into the trap of continuously praising them for their natural talent. "Wow! You are just a natural Billy. You have such an amazing gift". The problem here is Billy now thinks there is no effort required. He believes everything should come naturally. Billy may even apply this idea to other areas of his life falsely believing that if it doesn't come naturally then there is no point so will give up on most challenges early.

Environment v Effort

We are all affected by our environment whether we realise it or not. A student may not realise that they  have passed a test not from effort but from their environment.  Let's say you are 7 years old in a class of 20 children and have one week to study for a geography test. It just happens that your father is a cartographer and has been exposing you to maps from an early age. In fact every night it seems to be the topic of discussion at home. Everyone in your class  studies hard for the test yet with almost no effort you blitz the exam. You are then praised and told you are a gifted child in geography. This is just an example but I hope you can see my point.

Putting it into action

We have all been conditioned over many years and are constantly bombarded with the idea of celebrating results so making a shift to effort may not be easy so don't be too hard on yourself. Like most big challenges it's best to start small. You might begin with yourself by acknowledging the practice you do. This is where keeping a practice log really helps. If nothing else the practice log serves as measurement of your effort. Each time you write down your practice time you are saying to yourself "Well done". If you are a parent check  your child's practice log and congratulate them on the amount no matter how small. Keep celebrating the effort and the rewards will come. Good luck.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guitar lessons - Private v Group

The answer from the majority of guitar students is private tuition is better than group. In fact to many this seems blindly obvious. They argue that getting one on one with a teacher means they get to work on the areas that matter to them most. Being in a group either means waiting around while the slower students catch up or feeling left behind as the advanced students race ahead. While there is definitely some truth to the above argument focusing on private tuition as being the best option this may in fact be wrong and there is a million and one examples of the power of group learning all around.

Firstly lets establish the advantages to private tuition.
  • Personalised -  Your lesson can be tailored to your exact needs. If you want to play a particular song or style your teacher can cater for you and only you.
  • Your pace - The lessons will move at your pace. No falling behind or waiting around.
  • Questions answered - Because you are the only student you can ask questions at anytime.
  • Avoid embarrassment - One of the strongest motivations for private lessons is to avoid embarrassment in front of other students if you haven't practiced or haven't understood or are slow to progress. 
So what are the advantages to group tuition. I want to begin by discounting the private advantages.

  • Personalised - This is somewhat overrated. The skills required especially for a beginner are rarely personal. As people we are all much the same. Sure some people will have strengths and weaknesses but a good teacher will be aware and can quietly suggest you focus a little more practice in those areas.
  • Your pace - In this case your pace is not limited by your group. If you are finding the work too difficult or  not challenging enough let your teacher know. A good teacher will usually be aware anyway and will ensure you are appropriately challenged. Guitar is one of those skills that can also be improved. Knowing more is not better. If your class is playing a song you already know well try making an arrangement of the song that keeps you personally challenged.
  • Questions answered - If you have questions and the teacher is busy just have a note pad handy and write down your question for later. Even if the teacher does not get around to answering your question there is always the internet.
  • Avoid embarrassment - In this case go easy on yourself. No two people will progress at the same pace and there are usually good reasons for this. It could be they have previous experience, do more practice, have musicians in the family, play another instrument or have some natural ability. Whatever the reason it really is irrelevant. There will almost always be someone who learns faster and someone who learns slower. Your job is to focus on being better than YOU! If you have a question to ask the teacher and feel embarrassed asking just refer to my last point about writing down the question.
  • Social interaction - Group tuition also offers social interaction which especially among children will inspire them to stay the course. When we make friends doing an activity it naturally becomes harder to give up. We feel less committed if its only ourselves we let down if we give up but of we are part of a team we feel a sense of comradery with our fellow students.
  • Learning from others - We also learn from our classmates. They may be struggling with the same problem you are but manage to find a solution which you can then adopt. Other students can also give you ideas on songs, concerts or websites to check out.

I believe the best solution of all is a combination of group and private lessons. As you can see being part of a group has advantages with little downside but having a few private lessons at times would be the best option of all.

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