Since a person doesn’t need any kind of degree or training to teach guitar lessons, there are a lot of guitar teachers out there. Guitar lessons require an investment of money, time, and energy, so take your time to find the best teacher for you.
Ask for recommendations from music store employees, performing musicians, schools, and your friends who take music lessons. You can also check your local paper, search online, contact your chamber of commerce, and pick-up flyers you find at local businesses. Make a list of names, websites, and phone numbers, and leave plenty of room for your notes and impressions. Try to collect between 5-10 contacts.
After you have gathered all the information, you can prepare to interview each teacher over the phone. Be prepared to tell prospective teachers what you would like to achieve by taking guitar lessons, your current playing level, any past music experience you have had, the style(s) of music you enjoy, plus any other information you think would be helpful for them to know about you. Keep it brief, and realize that the teachers you are interviewing are also interviewing you.
Most private guitar teachers set their own rates, schedules, and policies. Since you will need to learn how each teacher runs her/his studio, the phone interview gives you the opportunity to get the information you need and to observe how each teacher answers your questions, so you get feel for each teacher’s style and personality.
The phone interview can help you determine if you like the communication style of each teacher. If a teacher cannot sufficiently answer your questions during the interview, she/he probably would not be able to sufficiently explain what makes a G7 chord different from a G chord.
Sample questions to ask prospective guitar teachers:
1. What is your education background?
2. How long have you been teaching people how to play the guitar?
3. How many students do you currently teach?
4. What musical style(s) do you teach?
5. What age and levels of students do you enjoy teaching?
6. What are your strengths, and what things set you apart from other teachers?
7. Where do you teach, what do you charge, and what is your cancellation policy?
You should never feel rushed to commit to a permanent lesson time, but a good teacher may be honest and tell you that the time offered to you is the only lesson time available. If the teacher sounds like she/he may be a good fit for you, ask to take a trial lesson, which is not a free lesson.
Good teachers know that there isn’t one teacher who is right for every student, and most teachers appreciate your effort to find a good match, so let each instructor know that you are taking lessons from several teachers until you find the best one for you. After you decide on a teacher, remember that you can always go someplace else if you are not satisfied with your lessons.
If you live out in the middle of nowhere, don’t fret! There are many great teachers who are offering webcam guitar lessons, including myself. All you need is an internet connection and a webcam.
Susan Palmer teaches jazz, blues, and rock guitar styles in Seattle and via webcam. Since 2006, she has been the guitar instructor at Seattle University. Palmer created and taught, “The Rock Project” at Cornish College of the Arts from 2010-15, and she was music instructor at Seattle Girls School for the 2016-17 school year. Palmer is the author of, The Guitar Lesson Companion Method Book Series which is used by teachers and students in over 10 countries, including faculty at Berklee College of Music. Her extensive collection of lesson videos and jam tracks are available for free on YouTube. Palmer’s current and former students perform regularly throughout the country, including these Seattle venues: The Comet, The High Dive, Skylark, Neumos, The Hard Rock Cafe, Chop Suey, The Tractor Tavern, The Rendezvous, The Sorrento Hotel, The Crocodile, The Mix, Cafe Racer, The Edgewater Hotel, The Sunset, and other private events.