How to Find a guitar teacher: Do you feel welcome?

Does your guitar teacher make you feel welcome?

Ask yourself this question the next time you walk into any store or place of business: Do you feel welcome by the people there? If not, it's probably not going to change. If you can find a business that makes you feel welcome right from the get go, you will have a much better experience in the long run.

This question of whether or not you feel welcome also applies to guitar teachers. Some angry guitar teachers will not change for you, no matter how nice you are to them. This post goes over four archetypes of guitar teachers to avoid because they won't make you feel welcome. 

Some teachers are just total a-holes

There are teachers who are so angry that they just can't see past their own experiences. They don't have empathy for their students, how they feel, or what they experience. This is dangerous, and I'm recommending to you now, in unequivocal terms, run! 

A teacher that lacks empathy and compassion for your situation, for where you are, is a teacher that is not there to help you

I've suffered my fair share of a-hole music teachers. I've had people yell at me for not playing well enough. All of these people came close to crushing my spirit and passion for music. I'm counting my lucky stars that I didn't listen to them, and I hope you avoid them too.

This doesn't have to be your experience. You don't have to put up with angry, frustrated, or rage-filled teachers. There are tons of amazing and inspiring teachers to work with, so there's no reason to put up with jerks. 

A step to rockstar-dom

Some guitar teachers use teaching guitar as a step to rockstardom. This means that they aren't really there to help you learn. Instead, they will likely think of you as a steppingstone, a placeholder.

I may as well suggest to you that just about anyone who wants to be a famous professional musician is not a good choice to be your guitar teacher. Why? My belief is that responsibility is not exactly the forte of the famous performing elite, and teaching certainly requires responsibility (as well as honesty and credibility).

If you do take lessons from this type of person, don't feel surprised if you feel like you are the audience. This type of teacher might take guitar solos throughout the entire lesson, show off, and could very well make you feel inferior. Is this what you want? 

Some teach simply to pass the time

Some guitar teachers are just bored to tears with teaching guitar. They don't really care, they don't mind if you don't practice, they don't work with you on your guitar goals, and they don't really worry about being responsible. Could you really expect someone to hold the learning space for you if he is burned out? Can you expect him to interact with you, to be present with you, if he doesn't really want to be there?

You deserve better. Teachers who are simply there to escape their own boredom with life are worth steering clear from. 

Some teachers try to help you not fail as they did

The worst kind of guitar teacher is the one who pushes you and prods you to not fail as he or she did. 

These teachers are smart, capable people. They know the guitar inside and out. They know the technical details, the musical details, even the artistic details. But while this ability to play guitar is very advanced, the teacher is motivated not by a love of teaching but a fear that a student will fail as he did. 

Perhaps you are wondering: "Failure? How can you say he failed? He can play guitar really well! He knows music theory inside and out!"

It's what lies underneath their knowledge that I'm scared of. If you work with a teacher who uses fear to motivate you, and is disappointed with you when you make a mistake, you're in for it. I personally believe that mistakes are signposts of what we need to work on to enjoy playing music a little more. They are opportunities. This type of teacher demonizes mistakes, and makes you think that you are a bad person for having them. Then, this very same teacher will show you the "correct" way, and you are expected to play better, and not fail as he or she did.

So much for being human, eh?