Am I good enough to be a guitar teacher?
This is THE question. ‘Am I good enough to be a guitar teacher?’ is the niggling doubt that prevents most guitarists from becoming guitar teachers.
The problem is that nobody will ever tell you that you’re good enough to become a guitar teacher.
It’s easy to imagine some model guitar teacher that knows everything, can play anything flawlessly, is charming, funny, students love them, teaches impeccably, etc. Does this teacher exist though?
Are any guitar teachers good enough?
The fact is that all guitar teachers have their limitations and shortcomings. This is part of being human and it’s true for professionals in almost any field.
Imagine a newly qualified doctor on his or her first day – on their own – in a surgery.
How do they feel as their first patient takes a seat in front of them?
Probably pretty nervous.
They will have been taught and mentored by senior doctors who were light-years ahead of them in terms of knowledge, expertise and experience.
But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t start taking on patients.
As long as the doctor’s ability is above the level required by the medical world then they should be out there treating patients and gaining valuable experience. Otherwise, how does anyone ever get to become a senior doctor…?
The same logic applies to becoming a guitar teacher.
Are YOU good enough to be a guitar teacher?
Let’s be honest, it takes seconds to find some amazing prodigy on Youtube who can play at blistering speeds over complicated chord changes.
There is a lot of talent out there for sure.
But that doesn’t really have any bearing on whether you can teach YOUR guitar skills and knowledge to people in your neighbourhood.
If you’re not that advanced then you might need to turn away someone like our Youtube virtuoso, if they turned up on your doorstep for lessons. He or she would be an inappropriate guitar student for you.
But how many of your potential students are likely to be of that kind of standard?
How good you actually need to be to teach guitar
The reality is that many of your enquiries will come from beginners who just want to get started and enjoy guitar playing. Many just want to be able to strum their way through their favourite songs. Or maybe learn how to improve on their 15 years of dabbling in guitar playing.
Couldn’t you help them do that?
As with the doctor example, there’s certainly a level of competence that a guitar player needs to have achieved before they can seriously think about teaching guitar. It’s hard to pin this level down exactly, but it’s not as high as many guitarists think.
Ultimately, if your guitar students are learning from you each week, they’re happy with their progress, they enjoy the lessons and they keep coming back for more, then that’s pretty much all that matters.
Know your limitations as a guitar teacher
Whatever level you are at, it’s important to be honest about your guitar teaching abilities; both to yourself and to prospective guitar students.
It would be completely irresponsible to pretend to be better than you are or to try to fumble your way through things that you have little or no experience of. You students would almost certainly see through this anyway, so why not just be honest?
If someone comes to you wanting to play nothing but slide guitar, and you have never even owned a slide; say so. You can always offer to teach this person the basics of blues, which is very relevant to a lot of slide guitar playing. They might say yes.
Good enough to start teaching guitar
If you feel you can only take on beginners right now then that’s fine. They won’t stay beginners for long, and as they progress, so will your guitar teaching skills.
As long as you put the work in, your library of teaching material will continue to grow and your level of expertise will improve. Soon you’ll be taking on and successfully teaching guitar students of higher and higher levels.
So, are you good enough to be a guitar teacher?
Well, if you know plenty of chords (not necessarily all of them), have decent timing (not necessarily perfect), have reasonable technique (not necessarily world-class), have patience and are willing to invest time preparing material, then you might well be ready to start teaching guitar already.
You won’t know for sure until you give it a try.
|Stuart Bahn is a professional guitar teacher in London, and creator of the Be A Guitar Teacher video course.|
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