Understanding Your Teacher's Studio Policies
How much do guitar lessons cost?
Guitar lessons are offered at a variety of rates, and students should consider several factors when choosing a teacher. If you choose a teacher based only on their hourly rate and it takes you 3 years to reach your goal instead of 1 year with a more experienced teacher, that lower hourly rate didn't actually save you money, and it ended up costing you a lot of time and energy as well. Remember, you're not just paying for the lesson time, you're paying someone to help you reach your goals quickly and effectively, and that's how an experienced teacher who charges a higher rate can actually save you money.
How long are guitar lessons, and how often do we meet?
Some instructors offer full hour sessions, while other teachers only teach half-hour, or 45 minute sessions. Teachers usually choose the time that allows them to check the previous week's assignment, offer suggestions for improvement and/or present new material effectively.
Weekly lessons provide the perfect amount of solo practice time so errors can be corrected before they become bad habits. Students who take weekly lessons are also more likely to practice daily, and that leads to more consistent and significant progress. "Flex-Lessons" are sometimes offered to students who cannot commit to a regular day and time but can fill in when regular students are absent, but they are not recommended because bad habits are harder to correct, and students do not usually make consistent progress due to a lack of daily practice.
Besides being less effective, lessons every other week are challenging for teachers to schedule. The teacher either has to find another student to fill the spot that's open every other week, or lose income. I have had two students work out the logistics on their own, so the time slot was filled on a weekly basis, but again, the students did not progress at the same rate as weekly students.
How do you pay for your guitar lessons?
There are many different payment plans that teachers use. Most teachers ask to be paid in cash or by check. You may be asked to be paid before a lesson begins, or to wait until after the session has ended. Some teachers also use PayPal, but those teachers usually include PayPal's fee in their bill to you.
Some teachers allow students to pay them at each weekly session but this is not very common for professional teachers who have a lot of students. Other teachers prefer to be paid for a month of lessons at the beginning of each month, while other teachers may ask you to pay for 3 months at a time. These plans help teachers plan her/his finances and they also help students make a stronger commitment to their music education.
What if you have to cancel your guitar lesson?
Some teachers can be very flexible and can offer make-up lessons to students who are absent, but most teachers do not offer any make-up lessons to students for any reason, simply because if a teacher's schedule is full, there's no room to reschedule students. All teachers should reschedule or credit students for lessons that they themselves are unable to make.
Often times, students will be asked to complete a questionnaire before the first lesson. The questionnaire gives you the opportunity to clearly state your goal(s) for the lessons, which will help you and your teacher stay on track during lessons.
The questionnaire may contain questions regarding your past musical experiences, your current playing ability, your goals, and other information that would be helpful for the instructor to know about you. Your phone number(s), mailing address and email may be asked for as well.
Questionnaires can also include contracts which must be signed by the person responsible for payment.
Other Helpful Information Your Teacher May Provide
- The kind of guitar you should use
- A good music store in the area
- Directions to the studio
- Tools you will need (usually a guitar, a metronome, tuner, music stand, and method book
- What you need to bring to your first lesson
- An introductory video lesson that your teacher has posted to get you started
Bottom line: Every teacher is different. Read through your teacher's policies as soon as you receive them, and message the teacher right away if you have a question. This is important because if there is something that doesn't work for you, your teacher will have time to offer the lesson spot to another student, and you'll have more time to find the best teacher for you.