What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
In addition to being a teacher, I am and always will be a student of David McLean. Despite my large base of knowledge on the instrument, each week he manages to find new ways to hone my skills and introduce new (and sometimes mind-boggling!) concepts in analyzing and/or creating different pathways to music.
At the moment, I'm involved in developing a new, comprehensive training program for guitar instructors as part of the SDML expansion project in 2011. It's a ton of work, but I find myself being auto-re-educated (if that's a word) and even seeing areas I can improve on in my own teaching and playing. It's a continually evolving process, and I expect it always will be.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
After several months of intensive training, my teacher suggested that I give teaching a try, by acting as a substitute for him one day. The lessons went incredibly well, and the feedback from the students was extremely positive.
I continued to substitute teach for a few months, then slowly began building my own student base in my off time from work. Eventually, classes grew to the size that, when I got laid off from work, I was able to move into teaching full time and business exploded. I still have a significant waiting list to this day.
Teaching isn't for everyone, but it's definitely become an integral part of who I am both personally as well as professionally.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Shop around, and don't settle. You're paying your hard-earned money for a service, so be as sure as you can be that you're going to get what you're looking for. Talk to a handful of teachers and compare their offerings, knowledgeability, references and testimonials to each other.
Most teachers' motivation is directly proportional to their quality of service. If a teacher seems apathetic to gaining your business, she's most likely going to have the same apathy toward your lessons.
Be most interested in teachers who take the time to answer your questions, provide background on their qualifications and experience, and respond to you in a timely manner.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
Guitar teachers are often pigeon-holed as washed-up musicians, or struggling musicians trying to make a few extra bucks to make ends meet. This is a difficult badge to overcome, and is the reason I take great pains to brush it aside.
Unfortunately, the stereotype isn't without good historical basis.
The SDML system, however, is different. Teachers in our network are required to pass rigorous testing and training before they're permitted to acquire students under the system's name and criteria.
Many guitarists also assume that lessons are either for those who suck at guitar, or that they'll be forced to learn whatever style of music this instructor is familiar with. Neither of these things are true in my lessons. Many experienced guitarists have jumped their abilities, and I teach whatever style the student is interested in.