“Seek out the best private instruction you can afford.” – Wynton Marsalis

Good teachers are a rare breed and can be hard to find amongst the dross of new wave music instructors who are only out to make a quick buck and not impart you with real musical skills that will enable you to independently stand on your own two feet.  Here are some pointers to look out for when making your choice for choosing the right teacher for you.

Find Someone Who Teaches Music Orientated Methodology

There is an old saying that goes like this: The difference between a professional and an amateur is that the professional really knows his basics.  It is extremely important that you find a teacher that is teaching you ‘music principled lessons’ and not a bunch of stylised techniques as their core methodology.

Avoid Teachers That Ask You What You Want to Learn

Teachers who use this as their teaching methodology, usually have no material to teach.  Let’s say that you go to a doctor because you are ill.  After the doctor determines what is wrong with you- you butt in and say, “Excuse me, but I don’t think that is what is wrong with me.”  You have gone to an expert who has years of study in medicine and you are going to tell him what is wrong? Avoid these types of instructors like the plague.

Beware of Instructors Who Just Want to Make it Fun

This type of instructor is more and more common these days.  They possess an almost ‘passive/aggressive’ used car salesman attitude with a big smile and their main objective is making sure that everything is fun, easy and requires little to no effort.  Their main responses are “well done” or “awesome” and provide no real positive feedback for you to improve.  These types of instructors are usually a waste of time and you will probably end up frustrated with your lack of improvement.  The only person who ends up feeling good in this type of scenario is them.

Choose the Teacher Who Has Had the Most Professional Experience

These days any jackleg with a video camera can start their own YouTube channel, regardless of their experience.  Always check to find out what kind of personal experience they have had as professional players, along with any teaching qualifications.  You don’t want to end up studying with the guy who made a living miming with boy bands for 15 years or somebody who has graduated from a ‘new wave’ music school and immediately starts teaching others.  That would be tantamount to learning how to fight from somebody who has never been in a fight. Warning- stay way clear of these individuals at all cost!

Study with Somebody That You Respect and Admire

Look for somebody who is going to lead you and give you the proper guidance to become a better musician.  This is someone who is probably going to end up scaring you a little bit, but in a good way!  The attributes you are looking for is somebody who can diagnose where you are at as a musician and prescribe the best solution; someone who holds you accountable for each lesson and pushes you to get better; someone who is blatantly honest with you, even if it is uncomfortable at times; somebody who can relate to what you are going through during the learning process and someone who is teaching you to become an independent musician who can hold their own and stand on their own two feet.   This is important as one day you are going to have to go it alone and you want to be prepared in advance for that day!


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