Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Will you succeed or fail at guitar?

New students will often wonder whether or not they have the so called musical bone in their bodies. Are some of us born more musical? After 30 years working with guitar students and much research I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter. It may or may not be the case but either way playing music is everyone's birthright. Natural talent is neither here nor there when it comes to succeeding on guitar. What matters is a little thing called mindset. 

The role of mindset

The world's best guitarists took decades to reach their peak potential and I am convinced natural talent played little to no role in their ultimate success. What mattered most was their mindset. Your mindset affects how you respond to situations and will ultimately determine whether you stick with guitar or give up. Mindset is not just applied to guitar of course but I was able to witness first hand how one's mindset affected their ability to learn and more importantly persist with guitar. Your biggest challenge with guitar will be your mind.

Do you have a fixed or growth mindset?

In Carol Dweck's book Mindset she gives an example of children who were given puzzles. Those with the fixed mindset soon lost interest in the puzzles once they realised they were not easily solvable. Those with the growth mindset responded very differently asking if they could take the puzzles home to work on them further. I have witnessed the very same when teaching guitar. There are those students who quickly lose interest in practicing guitar as soon as it gets difficult and there are those who eat up every challenge they are given. In fact I can usually spot the difference after just a few lessons. This raises the question of whether or not people can change. 

Can I change my guitar student's mindset? 

Well the answer is obvious right? It depends on my own mindset. If I was a guitar teacher with a fixed mindset then I would say no students can't change but if I have a growth mindset I know I should at least try and not give up too easily. Incidentally in my early years of teaching guitar I had a fixed mindset in regards to guitar students. I believed some students had it and some did not. I changed my view when I started to seriously research the topics of success and coaching. Almost everything I read gave examples of people who failed yet persisted including teachers and coaches. I realised anyone could be taught guitar but they needed to first believe they could learn. From that point on I saw every student as having potential rather than picking and choosing. When I took this approach I began to get very different results and my success rate with students shot up dramatically. The growth mindset is a powerful thing. 


A structured proven method of learning guitar.  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The qualities of a successful guitarist

Statistically most people who buy a guitar only last a few months. I have been researching this problem for close to 30 years and what I have found was  people who succeeded on guitar tended to share a few similar qualities. I realised that for my students to succeed they needed to adopt these qualities. They are as follows;

  1. They were prepared to stick it out for at least one year. Students who make the commitment for at least one year no matter what are very unlikely to quit. When I say commit I mean commit to practicing daily. If they do the result is they become guitarists for life. I would often survey students and there were very few who said I did it for a year or two and gave it up. In most cases they took up guitar for a month or two and gave up.
  2. They had support. When I say support I mean in terms of friends and family. With kids this was usually a parent who either also play guitar or helped them with practice. With adults it tended to be a friend or family member. Going it alone is always tough. 
  3. They had a teacher. I made it a habit to follow up on students who either inquired but did not enrol or students who had purchased our method online but not enrolled with a teacher and the continuation rate was far less than those students who had enrolled in one of our schools. This occurs not just with guitar students but with almost anything. No teacher equals no accountability which means no practice therefore no progress. Eventually the guitar ends up in the next garage sale.
  4. They always make time for guitar. The truth is time is not the issue. The real issue is priorities. I advise all my students to just do the practice at a set time no matter what no excuses.  I practice 2 hours a day plus I do 30 minutes a day with my 4 year old daughter. I rarely compromise on this no matter how busy I am. Practice is actually no chore at all. I love and really look forward to it each day but it wasn't always that way.  Developing a habit is the hardest part but once you do it gets easy. Successful guitar students are sometimes lucky because they fall into the routine of practice easily but most need to work at it. 

There are other other common traits of a successful guitar student but these are the ones that tend to stand out.

A structured proven method of learning guitar.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Guitar Student's Quit for 2 Reasons - So they say

Whenever a guitar teacher says to me their student quit and gave a reason I say "Let me guess. They have no time or couldn't afford the lessons." There are only 2 real reasons most students give but these reasons are rarely true and here is why.

Reason 1. No time. This is by far the No.1 reason students quit guitar. They will typically say "I have no time to practice" or "I have so much on at the moment so something has to give." The fact is time is not the problem. The real problem is usually hidden from view. It could be that the student is disorganised, is not understanding the lessons, finds the practice a chore or just lacks confidence in their ability to learn the guitar. Whatever the reason my advice to students is not to give up without at least exploring my theory a little. Begin by chatting with your teacher about your schedule and how you feel. Get to the root of the problem because I can assure you that you do have the time. If you spend no time on pointless phone calls, surfing the net, playing games or watching TV then I may just be wrong.

Reason 2. No money. This is an interesting one because a guitar lesson is generally a small cost. About the same as eating out at a restaurant. The average person can afford the cost of a guitar lesson each week especially in a group setting. The real problem has to do with value. When students are not progressing for one reason or another they cannot see the value in the lessons. My advice to students is firstly to discuss the issue with your teacher perhaps telling them what you were actually hoping for. Failing that seek out another teacher even if they are more expensive. Finding the right teacher is more important than the price.

In summary if you are learning guitar be aware of these 2 reasons. If you find yourself wanting to quit step back and think carefully about why. If you are using one of the above excuses you may need to dig a little deeper.

A structured proven method of learning guitar.  



Friday, March 1, 2013

Finding a great guitar teacher. 5 tips.

Finding a great guitar teacher is difficult for several reasons. Firstly they are very rare. Secondly great teachers rarely have vacancies. Lastly teaching guitar is an unregulated industry so anyone can teach guitar which means you need to go through a lot of teachers to find those few exceptional ones. The question is how do you recognise an average (or poor) teacher from a great one? Here are 5 quick tips.

How busy are they? Great teachers like great restaurants will generally be heavily booked. Don't expect to get a time that suits you. Just take whatever you can get.

Are there any online reviews? Check their website or Facebook page to see if other students have posted reviews. You can even search on Facebook to see if anyone is talking about the teacher.

Do they have experience? Great teachers will generally have at least a few years of experience. Teachers who have less than 2 years experience are often enthusiastic but their teaching skills are unlikely to be developed unless they are being mentored. Don't rule them out but check the next point.

Are they undergoing any teacher training or mentoring? I believe the best teachers are those who themselves are proactive students. They should be seeking out mentors and teachers who can help them to become better teachers.

Do they have a teaching system? Some teachers will say their lessons are 'personalised' which is okay but its generally a red flag. What they really mean is they have no system for teaching guitar and will usually just make it up as they go along. These teachers will write on lose pieces of paper from week to week and each new lesson will seem unrelated to the previous one. They will often open with a question like "So what would you like to do this week?" Code for "I have no idea what we did last week." Teachers who use a system or a method do so because they know from testing and experience that the system works.

A structured proven method of learning guitar.