We live in a world of convenience. In real-estate they shout 'Location, location, location because location usually means convenience. Quality may win out in the long run but short term convenience wins hands down. Think of fast food. Fast simply means convenient. A drive-through where your meal is ready within a few minutes without getting out of your car is about as convenient as it gets. Home delivery while a little slower is basically on a par. Either way these convenient foods reduce your need to burn calories while also delivering foods high in calories and low in vitamins.
How about the convenience store? Right around the corner, open late and easy parking. What's the cost? High prices, poor selection and definitely no advice. Even the big supermarkets are convenient because everything you need is in one place but often what you are buying is not ideal. What about a movie at home? Film makers spend millions of dollars making a movie which was designed to be watched at a cinema yet we often choose the convenience of home and get an inferior experience. The list goes on.
Convenient guitar teachers
Convenience almost always comes at a cost and this also applies to guitar teachers. The first place people look for a teacher is in their local area. Makes sense because who wants to drive 30 minutes to a teacher when there is one just around the corner. A good example are public schools. Many parents opt for a guitar teacher at their child's school. Now while some of these teachers are probably quite good this is very much a lottery. Most schools who offer guitar lessons have no actual input or control over what these guitar teachers teach. It is highly unlikely they are screened because there is usually no one qualified in guitar to know what a qualified guitar teacher really is. A good test is to ask your school who hired and trained the guitar teacher. Many of these teachers have little or no teaching experience and are often self-taught music students themselves.
Find the best (not the most convenient)
To avoid the convenience trap try to avoid selecting your teacher based on location. Be prepared to travel to find the best teacher for you. I suggest you ask the following questions of any teacher before you start.
- Do they use a method of teaching? Be wary of teachers who seem to improvise their lessons from week to week. A good clue is lots of hand written material.
- Are there clearly defined benchmarks? Ask the teacher what are the expected outcomes of their course and how will you know when you reach them.
- Is your teacher committed to teaching? Some teachers are very nice people but are not actually committed teachers. Your fees might help to put them through university but they see teaching as a source of income not a career. The result is a guitarist willing to trade their time for your money opposed to a trained professional committed to your success.