Q. Describe the most common types of jobs you do for your clients.
A. The three most common types of training I provide for my students are:
1. Training brand new begining guitarists, with no experience, to play the guitar.
2. Teaching music theory to experienced quitarists who have "hit the wall" and stalled in progressing to higher levels of playing because they have little or no training in music theory.
3. Teaching guitar to students who previously took lessons from an unqualified teacher who allowed students to develop bad playing habits. I have to first "unteach" the students in ordewer to eliminate the bad playing habits and then teach them how to play guitar the correct way and and the music theory behind what makes it the correct way.
Q. Describe three recent jobs you've completed.
A. This past summer I taught guitar to a brand new beginner, a 13 year old girl, who was vacationing here with her mother and staying at a friends home. I taught her once a week for one hour for five weeks after which time she returned to her hometown in another part of the state. At the conclusion of the five weeks she could play every major, minor, Maj7 and Min7 open chord, learned the circle of fifths and three major scale and minor scale patterns and she learned to play two songs each containing four chords.
Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. First, Read "How To Choose A Guitar Teacher" by Tom Hess and learn the acceptable answers to "The Nine Questions To Ask A Prospective Guitar Teacher"
Second, with this knowledge Interview prospective guitar teachers.
Third, Do not make an initial long term commitment with your teacher. Take a few lessons and see how the two of you work together. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the teacher and that the teacher keeps your goals first and foremost in lesson planning.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. I think that a lot of people believe that guitar teachers must be certified or have a license to teach guitar. Fact is that anyone who plays the guitar could post an ad on a classifieds website and start teaching guitar. That is why there are so many bad guitar teachers.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. 1. “What Styles Of Music Do You Teach Best?”
2. "How Long Have You Been Teaching And Approximately How Many Students Have You Taught During That Time?”
3. "How You Teach Your Lessons?”
4. Do You Have A Specific Strategy To Help Me Reach My Guitar Playing Goals?”
5. “Have You Successfully Taught Many Other Guitar Players To Reach Musical Goals Similar To Mine?”
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. A person who is considering learning to play the guitar should understand that it is not just a matter of just taking a lesson every week. They should know that learning to play the guitar requires a great deal of self discipline and time. While the rewards can be very great, they do not come without periods of frustration. Learning often requires many days and sometimes weeks of repetition just to acquire one skill. A student should have a substantial amount of patience. Guitar students should have goals for what they want to achieve and need to understand that they will need to keep themselves motivated during times when they might be struggling with a particular element or aspect of playing the guitar.
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. Over the past twenty-five years I have logged thousands of hours teaching private lessons. I know what works best with the student's goals, motivation, level of commitment, natural talent, age and time. Using these criteria, I design a personal lesson plan for every single one of my students. Then I go one big step further; Customized textbooks. I have written and published hundreds of detailed instructional articles and one book on various elements of guitar playing and music theory. I draw from my large database of texts and individually tailor each students text book so that it compliments exactly each students personal lesson plan.
I mentor my students and take a personal interest in their progress and development as musicians. I also make myself available to my students between lessons via telephone and email to answer questions, help them with issues related to practice, or clarify something that was covered in a lesson.
The level and quality of customized individual instruction and personal attention that I provide to my students is literally unheard of in private instruction and music schools.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. The greatest reward that I receive from teaching guitar is when a student who has little or no experience develops into what is considered to be a very good guitarist and musician. Many of my students have gone on to become professional musicians and make their living from playing the guitar. It is very gratifying to me knowing that I am greatly responsible for their success.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. Q. "Why do you charge more for your lessons than other teachers charge for theirs?"
A. This question might be better asked this way; "why do other teachers charge less for their lessons than you charge for yours?"
There are no licensing or certification requirements for guitar teachers. Anybody who plays the guitar can make up some flyers and post an advertisement for beginner guitar lessons on sites like craigslist, thumbtack and oodle and presto, they are in the guitar teaching business. The only problem is..... they can't teach. They have no experience, no qualifications, no teaching skills. They charge about half of what a good teacher charges and the naive beginner, who typically has no idea about how to choose a guitar teacher, ends up choosing a teacher based on cost and not on substance. The wanna be teachers put a few extra dollars into their pockets every week by "teaching" AC/DC and Metallica guitar riffs to these unsuspecting souls. No skills, no techniques, no music theory, no exercises for developing muscle memory and small motor control. All too often the beginner becomes highly frustrated, their motivation wanes,practice session get shorter and shorter, then less frequent, the mis a lesson, then two then they give up altogether and usually blame themselves for having no talent and for their entire lives never again attempt to learn to play the guitar. Sadly, it was never the beginners fault. It was the so called teachers fault. By the time the beginning guitar player gives up learning after four to eight lessons with an unqualified teacher, he or she could have been entertaining their friends and family with a few simple songs they have been able to learn after taking the same amount of lessons with a good guitar teacher.
People don't chose to learn to skydive from an instructor who is less expensive than everyone else, or have knee surgery from a low cost Orthopedic Surgeon, or learn to snow ski from a uncertified ski instructor because he offers cheap lessons. The risk is just too high for the amount of mony they might save. But they will choose a guitar teacher based on what he or she charges per lesson at the risk of never learning to play the guitar. There is this old saying "you get what you pay for" and paying a cut rate guitar teacher to teach you how to play the guitar is the same as paying someone to teach you to fail at learning to play the guitar. Common sense and logic tells me that I should be losing potential students to teachers who charge considerably more than I charge, but sadly it's the opposite and that just does not make any sense whatsoever to me.
Now, back to the original question regarding why I charge more than some other teachers, based on the way it was asked; I am more expensive than some and less expensive than other guitar teachers. Last year I raised my fee by $5.00 after freezing my fee's for five years due to the unfavorable economy. Based on my experience, my skills, my qualifications and my reputation I could easily be among the teacher s who charge and get the highest price for lessons. For over twenty-five years I have been committed to making my lessons affordable by the "everyman" and I am not about to change my philosophy now. I know what my value is and even at $40 -$45 per lesson, every one of my students feel that they are getting the best deal on having me as their teacher. More expensive teachers usually are worth MORE than the higher price they charge for lessons! A student will learn more in less time from a good teacher than a less expensive average teacher, so you might be paying more per lesson, but over the long run you are are getting more for your money.
Q. Do you have a favorite story from your work?
A. in mid-August o0f 2010 a young man with no guitar playing experience at all came to me for lessons and told me that the reason he wanted to take lessons was so he could learn to play the song "Memories of us" by Kieth Urban and play it as a surprise to his bride during their wedding reception in less than three months.
It was a challenge since he did not have a lot of time for practice. The song was difficult for a beginner. As the wedding drew nearer and the student became more and more involved in the preparations, he had less time to practice and he missed a few lessons. He was about to give up on the idea, but I gave him a pep talk and told him that the show must go on and that he could still pull it off, but I would need to back him up on guitar at the reception.
I ended up tuning his guitar into Open D tuning and I taught him to play most of the chords with just one finger.
At the reception I came onto the stage carrying my ES335 semi-hollow body electric guitar. The guests were under the impression that it was going to be given away as a door prize. I had a wireless connection to my amp that was hidden out of sight. I started playing the intro to "Making Memories Of Us" and the groom came on stage wearing a wireless mic and strumming his acoustic-electric guitar and playing the one finger chords as rehearsed. I made certain that the volume on his guitar was turned down very low so mostly my guitar could be heard. The groom was very nervous since there were almost 500 people in attendance and he messed up on the lyrics a couple of times, but he got through the song and received a tearful hug from his bride and a standing ovation from the guests.
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. I wish that everyone knew that many guitar teachers who teach private lessons are not qualified to teach guitar. They base their teaching abilities on their reputation as a member of a popular band, or a graduate of a music school, or because they are a "shredder." My reputation as a guitar teacher is based entirely on my success in teaching thousands of people to play the guitar for over 25 years and not my reputation as a band member, songwriter or virtuoso guitarist. A guitarist who graduated from a music school is no more qualified to teach guitar than an engineer who graduated from an engineering school. The ability to play the guitar well and the ability to teach guitar well are as different as night and day. The ability to communicate very well is extremely important in teaching people to play the guitar. I am an excellent communicator.
Q. How did you decide to get in your line of work?
A. There were many options available for me to pursue as a career in the music industry. I chose teaching because musically, the one thing that I do better than playing the guitar is teaching the guitar. I feel that everyone has a calling and mine is teaching others to play the guitar. I am very fortunate to be able to make my living doing what I do best and love most.
Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?
A. I belong to a few music teachers organizations where the main goal is improvement through continuing education. I have also taken the guitar teacher and mentoring training course from Tom Hess Music Corporation. Additionally, I have taken courses in training children to play the guitar, advanced music theory, songwriting and composition. I am also an active participant in several on line guitar teachers forums.
Q. What is your greatest strength?
A. My greatest strengths as a guitar teacher are:
1.) I don't merely teach people to play the guitar. I also TRAIN them how to implement the things they have learned and apply them to their playing skills.
2.) I design an excellent dynamic personal lesson plan for each student which is periodically reviewed with the student and, if necessary, revised according to the students progress, learning pace and other criteria.
3.) I am able to individually tailor each students text book so that it compliments exactly each students personal lesson plan because I can draw from my database of hundreds of instructional articles that I have written and published over the past twenty-five years.
4.) I have the ability to teach a large, complex and complicated element by methodically breaking it down into several simple, easy to understand sub-parts and then "gluing" the sub-parts together, one by one and demonstrating how each part relates to the others until they comprise the one large, complex element.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. Q. "Do you offer online or video guitar lessons?"
A. I would teach video lessons on a one on one basis, but that is all. I do not feel that group video lessons are very effective. One of the most important aspects of one on one private lessons with a guitar teacher is that the teacher can immediately detect and correct improper or bad playing techniques by the student and stop it before it becomes a real problem. This is not possible to do in group video lessons.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. Q. "what are three good reasons why I should know music theory?"
1.) You Gain a Better Understanding of the Guitar Fretboard. Music theory helps us understand how the notes on a guitar fretboard connect into the music we play. When we have a little bit of understanding of theory, the notes on the fretboard aren’t just merely notes, but there is actually a connection between them, and they relate and function together in a particular way. If we understand how the notes connect and relate to one other, how much more easily can we then creatively express ourselves through our guitar playing.
2.) You Gain a Better Understanding For How Chords Function. Different chords have different characteristics such as major, minor, augmented, or diminished. It’s in a better understanding of music theory that we understand how different chords are characteristic to different scales and how those chords function in those scales. In our understanding of music theory, we also learn how to pull from our understanding of the guitar fretboard and form our own guitar chords.
3.) You Gain a Better Understanding of How to Craft Guitar Solos. A good guitar solo will be crafted based upon a solid understanding of how the notes in the solo relate to one another and how they relate to the chord progression of the song. It’s hard to create a good guitar solo if you don’t know how to put the pieces together.
Q. Write your own question and answer it.
A. Q. "How much money will it cost to buy a decent guitar to learn on?"
A. The minimum you can expect to spend on a new acoustic or electric guitar is between $200 and $300. I recommend certain brands of new guitars that I am very familiar with to my students. These guitars cost about $200.
I also advise my students to have their new guitars set up by a reputable service technician. A setup involves making numerous adjustments to the guitar and will cost anywhere from $75 to $100 depending on the kind of guitar and what needs to be done. After the setup has been done the $200 guitar will play and sound as good as or better than a guitar worth twice as much or more. The guitar will be much easier to play and much easier to learn on after a setup
No guitar, no matter the price, is shipped from the factory in a setup condition.