Monday, 4 May 2009

Guitar Teaching (part 2.1) “Knowledge Is Power?”

Originally posted on 03 Nov 2008

There is a bizarre culture amongst guitarists to be very protective of what they know, and can do. When I first started posting ideas in the online forums, there was certainly a culture of resistance to what I said, and a sense of ‘Who is this guy to tell me how to practice?’, and ‘What right does this person have to post links in here to his ideas and online blogs on guitar playing?’ I never understood this because whenever I’ve seen anyone answer questions online, or post ideas about practicing, I’ve always thought that was generous of them to share their thoughts and ideas, and I and read what they’ve had to say with sincere interest. I asked myself recently where this culture actually comes from and what purpose this may serve. Whenever I play at any of the trade shows and someone expresses an interest in what I’m doing, I’ll break everything that I’m playing down into smaller fragments, play slowly, and score (or tab) what I’m doing out for anyone. It seems to me that in a situation where everything anyone would ever need to know (in terms of resources) is available online, why would anyone be at all protective of what they know? I guess knowledge is still 'power', but it's certainly worth being aware that this is only the case for people who don’t actually know very much.

Maybe my attitude is based on the fact that I actually wanted to teach, and I didn’t start taking on students out of necessity to survive or as a bittersweet compromise because I didn’t ‘make it’ as a player (as some guitar players do). From the very early days of my own teaching I was actually approached, and asked to teach by the co-ordinator of the local music service. My first teaching job wasn’t a job I applied for; it was one I was offered while I was still at 6th form college. Since that time, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been asked to do every teaching job I have ever done, and I’ve now had over 300 students pass exams at every level on guitar, piano, and double bass (using different exam boards including ABRSM and ‘Rockschool’ (where students have wanted to do that).

All this leads me to strongly believe that if you’re looking for someone to teach you how to play the guitar, it would be a good idea to look for someone who actually wants to do the job. You’ll get more out of a teacher who wants to share their skills and knowledge with you than anyone who is doing the job because they haven’t had the breaks they wanted with their playing career. There are loads of guitar players offering lessons, but I seriously doubt that they all actually want to do it.

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