October 9, 2017

Why Traditional Guitar Lessons Are Often A Waste of Time and Money

By Nicholas Anderson


If you’ve taken guitar lessons in the past, you have probably experienced the “status quo”. That is, unless, you were lucky enough to find an exceptional teacher. Unfortunately, most guitar teachers are not exceptional. In fact, many guitar teachers are good people with good intentions, but simply do not have the training needed to be exceptional teachers.

To be clear, I am not picking on guitar teachers. This is true in all fields. Just think, how many really great teachers have you had in your life? I bet most people can think of one or two. Most teachers are good, decent teachers. Some are really bad (not many) and some are exceptional (also not many).

Here are the top 3 reasons most guitar teachers are not exceptional:

1. By default, they teach the way they were taught (or the way they learned)
2. They have had no formal training as a teacher
3. They operate on a false assumption: some students have talent and some don’t, and that’s just the way it is

Reason #1: By default, they teach the way they were taught (or the way they learned)

Most guitar teachers assume that the way they learned was effective for them, so it will be effective for everyone (or at least, most people). Therefore, when they come across a student who doesn’t “get it,” they assume this is due to problems with the student, not with the teaching method (more on this in point 3). Consequently, most teachers do not even attempt to find different ways of teaching, better strategies, or innovative methods. Even though there are many ways to learn chords, most teachers only know one or two ways to teach them, and few if any, ways to fix the common problems guitarists face when learning.

Reason #2: They have no formal training as a teacher

It is very easy to begin teaching guitar. There are no requirements you need to meet call yourself a guitar teacher. In fact, the way I started teaching was showing some friends what I knew. At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I soon found that I enjoyed teaching guitar and so I started teaching more frequently. The fact is, this is how most teachers begin. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it leads to an incomplete skill set for most teachers. Because they never learned from someone who was an expert at teaching, they simply rely on their own intuition, books, or worst of all, they guess.

At The Olympia School of Guitar, we receive ongoing training from one of the top guitar teachers in the world as part of our membership in the Elite Guitar Teacher’s Inner Circle. You can be confident that you’re receiving the best lessons, strategies, and techniques for making maximum progress in your playing.

Reason #3: They assume some students have talent and some don’t – and that’s just the way it is

Many people believe that a person who is an expert in their field got there because of innate natural ability. However, research has shown the talent can be developed over time through consistent practice. Sadly, most guitar teachers also operate under the “natural talent” assumption and therefore make little or no effort to develop talent in their students. Although it may seem far fetched that someone can develop talent, this is exactly the case. Books such at The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Peak by K. Anders Ericsson are excellent resources to learn about the science of expertise and how people develop talent.

At The Olympia School of Guitar, we use many of the techniques taught in these and other books to help our students become good guitar players, even if they have no “natural talent” when they begin taking lessons. We have seen students who got nowhere after years of lessons with other teachers make amazing progress in a fraction of the time using these tested and proven techniques. You can request an introductory at www.OlympiaGuitarLessons.com.

About the Author: Nicholas Anderson is a guitar teacher in his hometown of Olympia, WA. If you live in or near Olympia and are interested in lessons, contact him through his website at www.OlympiaGuitarLessons.com.