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Artie Owl

Bad Guitar Teacher Stories

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Hey, I'm on my way to guitar lessons, like I have done every Tuesday night for the last three years or so. My progress from when I started to now is remarkable (in terms of what my teacher was able to teach me in a relatively short period). As we all know guitar is a lifelong obsession, passion, and job, and that we all need to cut ourselves slack when it comes to our progress.

 

Good teachers know this. Bad teachers try to show you why you can't be as good as they are because they're so far ahead of you. We'll call it ego.

 

I've only had great experiences with my teacher which is why I keep going back, but lets hear about some bad ones, so that people who are taking lessons and feel like it's their fault they're not learning see that it might be the teacher and not the student. (Might)

 

Or if teachers here want to share stories of people who want something but refuse to work at it, that's cool too, two sides to every story and all that.

 

Go.

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When I was a young man I scheduled some lessons with a local "teacher." He told me to not worry about bringing my instrument, he'd have one. When I showed up for first lesson smarted off saying, "Looks like you came prepared without your insrument." Then, when I gave a reply he said that he didn't teach "music" couldn't read music, didn't care much for it.

 

Needless to say, I walked out.

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I had a substitute while my teacher was playing some shows in another town. He didnt have an ego, he just didnt know much.

Hes a cool guy, but lets just say i was doing the teaching that lesson.

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Guest FarnsBarns

he didn't teach "music" couldn't read music, didn't care much for it.

 

Needless to say, I walked out.

 

I can't really read music (TAB yes), don't teach people to read music (obviously) and don't care much for it. That said, I have only ever taught people who asked me to, and then as a favour, I've never charged.

 

My father was a very old school jazz musician and he always said learning to read music before you have developed an ear is the worst thing you can do because it ends up as crutch.

 

I was in preservation hall in New Orleans in the eighties and the band played a tune my dad really liked and he didn't know it. Being friendly with all the bands at that time he approached them after the gig. First he asked the clarinet player for the chord sequence, he didn't know it, and said dad should ask the banjo player, he didn't know it either and said he should ask the pianist, he didn't know it either. It turned out the entire band had played the song but know one new the chords without sitting down and working it out. In the end the melody was written down (not in score). Dad stood in for the clarinettist the next night (on soprano sax) and they played that song again!

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Great Thread!!! Let me tell you... I started from zero like 4 years ago when I bought a 2007 Cherry Burst Les Paul Classic at Guitar Center on one of my trips home to Boston. I bring the guitar back to Spain with me and started with free lessons on the internet. Very good to start off with if you know nothing as I did...

 

fast forward, I started looking for a guitar teacher and found one. A great guitar teacher who listened to me and had no problem teaching me what I wanted to learn. I told him wanted to learn exercises that would get me used to the neck of the guitar and scales and very basic stuff, open chords and bar chords. Great everything went as planed but once I had that stuff down that was it. I worked really hard practiced many hours a day and was lucky enough to get into a band. I kept going to my guitar classes for a while but I was learning more from the bass player in the band than from my teacher. I realized how unorganized and lax my teacher really was. I would go to class and he would repeat what we did the week before... [blink] He would ask me to work on something and then forget about it... [blink] He would be stuffing his face with smelly corn chips while giving a class. He would show me and exercise to do and as I'm trying to learn it he'd go off on a tangent and start shredding the exercise like saying look how fast I can do it. He did that all the time... [confused] great way to discourage your students... Any way I dumped him, adios amigo!!

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.

Love those stories where the reading of music is given the smack down as something totally useless. Some of them are pretty funny. And there certainly are a lot of musicians that get by on their ear and recording tech.

 

But I'm one who will say that reading music - notation, tablature, chord forms, whatever - can be very handy skill to have. I understand the time investment wouldn't be worth it to some players, but that has nothing to do with the fact it can be a handy skill.

 

I used to do some teaching. I was sometimes amazed at the train wrecks created by other "teachers".

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Good thread.

 

Luckily, I think I had two exceptional instructors in my time playing. Coincidentally, my first instructor was taught by my second instructor. Both were very knowledgeable and willing to teach me whatever I wanted to learn, whether it be theory, scales, chords, exercises...you name it. They knew enough to anwswer all of my questions.

 

The time in between my first instructor, and my last, was years. In my earlier 20's, I decided to get back into lessons again, and found the guy who taught my first instructor. I can honestly say, that this guy is the best player I've ever seen/heard. Any style, any genre, you name it, and he could play it with incredible proficiency. At this point, I was in my early to mid 20's, and these lessons were almost more like therapy to me, more so than instructional tudoring. It was my weekly music hour with a master. Considered myself lucky. It was only because I had to relocate for work that I stopped going.

 

Too bad none of his skills rubbed off on me! Actually, that sounds like he wasn't able to teach me anything, which is far from the truth. I learned a ton from him, and retain it to this day. It's just...i couldn't replicate his physical skill on the guitar in a lifetime.

 

If any of you are familiar with Neil Zaza (Steve Vai/shredder-type player), the instructor I'm referring to taught him as well. I believe in an interview, Zaza also mentions this teacher as the best he's heard.

 

Again, I feel lucky about it. If anyone is in N.E. Ohio, and would possibly be interested in lessons from this guy, let me know. I could reach him and ask if he could take on another student, and possibly put you in touch.

 

EDIT: This is too weird...in searching online for some info on my second teacher, I found my first teacher by complete coincidence. Hadn't seen that guy since my last lesson, almost 18 years ago. Found him, because he'd mentioned his/my teacher on some forums. Crazy. The power of the interwebs.

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I think it's a lot about finding a teacher who teaches right for you. My current guitar teacher, graduated magna *** laude from Berklee, is an incredibly nice guy, and his teaching style is perfect for me. That being said he may not be the right teacher for someone of a different temperament. Best teacher I've ever had, his wealth of knowledge is astounding, plus he is the nicest guy I've ever met.

 

It is extremely important to find the right teacher, a bad teacher can turn you off of music for good, while a good one can do wonders. I know people who have skipped through 6+ until they found a good teacher, and if it works it works!

 

Something I think is too often overlooked is the student's part in all this. You have to put effort forth too, you have to put the time in to learn what he/she is teaching, otherwise the point is moot. If you don't like a teacher first off, consider, are you doing your part?

 

dem00n, perhaps two different teachers would be a bit unwieldy, while yes two brains can be better than one, too many chefs can cook too much food too. Might lengthening the time you have with your current teacher be an option?

 

(and learning to read music was one of my first commitments, I'm still working at it, I've always seen it as necessary)

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I think it's a lot about finding a teacher who teaches right for you. My current guitar teacher, graduated magna *** laude from Berklee, is an incredibly nice guy, and his teaching style is perfect for me. That being said he may not be the right teacher for someone of a different temperament. Best teacher I've ever had, his wealth of knowledge is astounding, plus he is the nicest guy I've ever met.

 

It is extremely important to find the right teacher, a bad teacher can turn you off of music for good, while a good one can do wonders. I know people who have skipped through 6+ until they found a good teacher, and if it works it works!

 

Something I think is too often overlooked is the student's part in all this. You have to put effort forth too, you have to put the time in to learn what he/she is teaching, otherwise the point is moot. If you don't like a teacher first off, consider, are you doing your part?

 

dem00n, perhaps two different teachers would be a bit unwieldy, while yes two brains can be better than one, too many chefs can cook too much food too. Might lengthening the time you have with your current teacher be an option?

 

(and learning to read music was one of my first commitments, I'm still working at it, I've always seen it as necessary)

My teacher has been really busy lately since he has got a other job but i was thinking both to focus on other genres.

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I've got a great teacher, too. He's an Atlanta Institute of Music grad also. He teaches me what I want to know, but he has a set path he follows for every phase. If I can't play a lesson without a mistake, I have to keep working on it. That has made me better. I've been taking for almost six years, and I had hoped to be a lot further along than I am now, however I am infinitely better now than when I started. If you don't practice, he doesn't want to teach you. If you show that you're putting forth an effort, he will reciprocate. He's not just doing it for the payment.

 

My biggest problem is that I don't feel like I am moving as fast as I'd like, but I've got the rest of my life. Fortunately, I don't play for a living. Great players spend more time than I can learning to play.

 

BTW, nobody ever got worse from learning to read music and learning theory.

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I'm self taught. 52. I asked my parents for lessons as a a kid and they said no. So, I taught myself.

Looking back, it was a dreadful decision. I want to study now. But I can't find a teacher.

I have some in my area. But I've looked them up on vids and they're s++t. Vibrato too fast, bends weak. No style.

So, If anyone knows a teacher in Birmingham UK. Let me know.

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I took 3 "Guitar Lessons" in my life, by the fourth we were just jamming and playing around. I had learned all my open chords and a couple barre chords from my Dad (a self taught rhythm player), but I needed to understand what a guitarist was doing when he was playing a lead. I could play single notes in the right spots, but I didn't know what it was all about. Most of my understanding of Theory comes from Trumpet, Keys, and Mandolin, guitar was always more of a "Feel it First" instrument for me.

 

Anyway, the guy that showed me how to play leads wasn't a teacher, he was a really good hired gun who loved Jazz, but he hated teaching. Personally I think that helped me a lot, guitar teachers that try to infuse their style or preferences bug the heck out of me.

 

a good teacher will help you find your way through the instrument, a poor teacher will either discourage you out of Ego or keep stringing you along by teaching you your favorite songs but nothing about why they are played the way they are played. Those "$20 a song" teachers drive me nuts.

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Mine is a good (for me) story paralleling a bad story. When my dad agreed to get me a guitar, it was on the condition that I would take lessons and learn how to play it.

 

We had a local music shop and there were 2 teachers. The one guy, everyone went to. He had this reputation for being able to get anybody playing in a short amount of time. He played in a local metal band, and everyone thought he was the coolest. Basically, kids would bring in dubs (on tape cassette) of songs that they wanted to learn, and he'd teach them. Kids would take lessons for a month, and would quit after they learned to play a couple popular tunes on the radio.

 

Then there was the other dude. He was kind of a weird guy, was probably a hippie at some point in time. He built a clone of a Marshall Plexi head because he couldn't afford one. He taught out of a book, stressed practice, scales, listening to music.

 

Anyway, the cool tape dub guy was constantly booked, so I got stuck going to the nerdy dude. Boy am I glad I did, although at first I wasn't stoked about it. I only took lessons for a month (it was pretty expensive and my parents couldn't afford it). In that short amount of time though, I got a foundation for what would eventually become my own playing style. -All while the other teacher's lesson room was turning out dozens of radio/Mtv clones.

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I by far have one of the greatest guitar teachers. Ive been learning for a year (thats how long ive been playing) and ive already finished my lesson books. Hes been really nice. Hes taught me everything i know. We even spent one whole lesson learning to change strings so i can learn (it was a hands on demonstration). About half of the songs on my iTouch is from CDs that my teacher got for me (and i have about 360 songs). And lessons only $12. Lessons are supposed to be only 30 min, but he lets us run to 45 min or even an hour. God bless him. I just had to say all that. [lol]

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Twiz...

 

Yupper, you were lucky.

 

When I came into guitar, I already knew about basic chords and stuff from playing a little piano until 4th grade in school. Next came trumpet until the summer after I graduated high school. Then, as my little bro (okay, he's 60) sez, when I decide I want to learn something, I tend to obsess. I obsessed.

 

I still played trumpet basically even into rock bands and college until I lost my front teeth. Darn.

 

Anyway, I taught a few mid teen students basic guitar playing. They tended to be something as I had been, in that they knew something of music, were bright and were willing to practice. Luckily most had far more talent than I have.

 

So... mostly it was putting what they already could comprehend into a basic folk/pop guitar rhythm accompaniment, then into quick transposition as related to the fretboard, etc., etc. In fact, often when I'm trying to do something different for myself, I try to remember what I once taught.

 

But... Unfortunately I have only one talent: The ability to work hard on something to develop skill. I'd say my guitar students didn't get so much particular skill from me, as sufficient basics so that they sounded much better than I could, yet with less "effort" while forging their own thing in music beyond what I'd help them learn.

 

In that sense... I think I've done better as a teacher than performer.

 

But then the word "education" comes from the Latin root "to lead out from." It ain't cramming stuff into people, but rather offering tools that enable them to find their own road.

 

m

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Excellent thread!

 

My first teacher was a well known guy in N E Ohio, Youngstown area, to be specific. (mid 70's) Guy by the name of Sandy Jackintil (sp?) Taught me how to read and basic theory. Stuck with him for three years but he would not teach picking speed or scales, (other than Major).

After my mom passed away, my dad got re-married and her youngest son taught me the rest, including Barre chords and variant progressions. His name is Tim Sheldon, haven't seen him (or heard from him) in like 25 years.

Now, I'm re-learning everything, primarily with on-line stuff. Problem there is, lack of feedback from the instructor.

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I learned everything I know from dem00n. And the only thing left to learn is the storied dem00ntone. After that, I will be able to rest on my laurels.

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I guess I'll add my own story to my own thread, I already mentioned my good teacher, here's my bad one.

 

I too played Trumpet in school band, it hurts me to say now but back then it was my second choice. In grade 5 here they held a concert for interested parents and kids put on by the junior high and afterwards allowed kids to try out their instruments (lack of hygiene not withstanding). Originally I remember being fascinated by the saxophone, and growing up in the late 80's and early 90's it was hard NOT to hear the sax on a lot of jazzy and bluesy stuff.

 

So, it was cool and had lots of buttons but guess what? Here they make you play clarinet first, so Trumpet it was. Boy were my parents excited (italics here is sarcasm). They rented the instrument because they had no idea if I'd stick with it, which is fair, but they ended up paying much more than they had to renting it from the music store.

 

I really enjoyed my time in junior high band, it wasn't until I reached grade ten that I met a teacher who shall remain anonymous. She was one of those "I think I'm hip" teachers because she was really interested in the traditional concert band materials. Which is great but only to a certain extent. She ran them, and us into the dirt. Though I will thank her for the tests on having to listen to her play 4 to 10 bars of music and transpose it onto the staph by ear.

 

She was just the really musically stuffy type. It wasn't until myself and one of my best friends reached grade 12 that we persuaded her to get Pirates of the Caribbean, something regular parents and folk could come and listen to and enjoy when hearing our concerts. She HATED it, and now they still play it even though last I heard she only let it out of the box once every three years.

 

Anyway, her stifling attitude and snotty nature almost made me quit. It wasn't until my last year that she had a workshop run by an old hippie named Jerry, who taught us the joy of improving jazz, wherever he is now I hope he knows what an impact he made on my in my last year. I don't play much jazz nowadays but I'm not entirely sure I'd be where I am now in music if it wasn't for him.

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this thread makes me miss my stepfather. phenomenal piano player/teacher. A great theoretical teacher, and while I did not learn guitar from him specifically, I learned an appreciation for jazz and standards, and lots of why things work musically.

 

I really should have taken some more piano from him...

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My nephew went to a teacher who was doing a half hour 'beginner class' at a music store. Weekly lesson, 30 minutes, $30 bucks. He was there with about 15 other newbies. The teacher walked in, spent 5 minutes showing them a G chord, then said, "You guys work on that." Then he turned around and started doing something on his laptop for the next 25 minutes. After 30 minutes, he didn't even look up from his computer. He just said, "See ya next week."

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Guest FarnsBarns

My nephew went to a teacher who was doing a half hour 'beginner class' at a music store. Weekly lesson, 30 minutes, $30 bucks. He was there with about 15 other newbies. The teacher walked in, spent 5 minutes showing them a G chord, then said, "You guys work on that." Then he turned around and started doing something on his laptop for the next 25 minutes. After 30 minutes, he didn't even look up from his computer. He just said, "See ya next week."

 

Wow, being in a group would have been enough to worry me. My first lesson is always relative tuning, how's any one gonna practice all week if they can't time their instrument, especially if It's a cheap one, which, unless you are very rich, it should be.

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This is one of my favourite recent threads - so thank you msp_thumbup.gif I have thought long and hard about this and think how I teach now, owes as much to the good teachers I had, as much as the bad ones I had too. The good teachers had me leaving the lesson excited and also in deep thought about what I had to work on, but they always made me feel it was attainable with hard work and enthusiasm.

The bad teachers all had a few things in common (and I would be interested if anyone can relate to this); they all seemed to lack any noticeable enthusiasm for their subject, they spoke about pupils to me (and presumably to others too) on who was in their eyes talented or oppositely lacking, they name dropped often and were very critical of lots of big name players saying they could do better etc etc, they were generally pessimistic to any ideas ie "can I try this piece if i work hard?" would be met with "that is quite a big piece, I am not sure if you will get to that level, lets stay where we are for now"

 

These kind of people can damage your confidence temporarily but what helped me shake them out my subconscious is realising with age, that their out look was/is their problem. In fact the negatives they put onto pupils was nothing but a self projection of their own lacking.

 

Now as well as doing my very best to encourage and help pupils become better players thanks to the negative guys in the above paragraph I do the exact opposite of them. I also have a strict rule NEVER EVER to mention any one else to them as a basis for comparison. I try and make them feel that the lesson is all about them and their musical world.

 

Matt

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This is one of my favourite recent threads - so thank you msp_thumbup.gif I have thought long and hard about this and think how I teach now, owes as much to the good teachers I had, as much as the bad ones I had too. The good teachers had me leaving the lesson excited and also in deep thought about what I had to work on, but they always made me feel it was attainable with hard work and enthusiasm.

The bad teachers all had a few things in common (and I would be interested if anyone can relate to this); they all seemed to lack any noticeable enthusiasm for their subject, they spoke about pupils to me (and presumably to others too) on who was in their eyes talented or oppositely lacking, they name dropped often and were very critical of lots of big name players saying they could do better etc etc, they were generally pessimistic to any ideas ie "can I try this piece if i work hard?" would be met with "that is quite a big piece, I am not sure if you will get to that level, lets stay where we are for now"

 

These kind of people can damage your confidence temporarily, but what helped me personally shake them out my subconscious, is realising with age that their out look was (and still is in some cases) their problem. I would go as far as saying the negatives these kind of teachers put onto pupils their own pupils is nothing but a self projection of their own lacking.

 

Now; as well as doing my very best to encourage and help pupils become better players (thanks to the negative guys in the above paragraph!!) I often do the exact opposite of what they would do. For example. I have a strict rule NEVER EVER to mention any one else to a pupil as a basis for comparison. I try and make them feel that the lesson is all about them and their musical world! I am strict when things are not done right, but when they get it I make a huge enthusiastic fuss!! LOL...

 

I know this is idealism, but in a perfect world there just wouldn't be negative and poor teachers!

 

Matt

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