It's tough to find someone to teach your child an instrument. It's hard to find a reputable place that has great teachers and a budget friendly program. I learned guitar in the late 1980's when hair-do's and technique were more important than substance. There was this place locally called People's Music in Queens, NY that was your run in the mill mom and pop instrument retail store. I bought my first guitar there for $300 bucks which I paid for with the money from my paper route. Now, interestingly enough, Aria Pro and paper routes for 11 year olds no longer exist.
Kids today have access to Sam Ash and the like for their instrument purchases and as far as finding a job to pay for their instrument well that's a different story. Mom and Dad probably pay for the thing. Needless to say, I took lessons for two years and built a great relationship with my teacher.
He taught me all sorts of things, or tried to, and I never practiced! Mom was just happy that I was doing something constructive and found something I liked. She was a big proponent of role models and looked to my guitar teacher as one. After the two years, my guitar teacher told me that he was leaving and was giving me his number in case I wanted private lessons. I of course told my Mom and we obliged. Apparently everyone else did too as the store closed down soon after that. Years later when I was old enough to understand, or care for that matter, he told me how bad the place was run and how the owner didn't really care for his teachers.
I ended up taking lessons for 4 years privately and today, almost 20 years later, I am still playing professionally I might add. So what was it- the love of the instrument or the teacher that got me to play? It was the teacher and I'll tell you why. Music lessons are great for anyone that want to learn the instrument of their choosing.
But great teachers- those are few and far between. When I started teaching guitar, I did it for the money obviously. I had an average of thirty students and like my guitar teacher of the 80's, I taught in a Mom and Pop Retail store.
As time went on, I realized what my old guitar teacher gave me that was way more important than my love of music: it was a friendship and mentorship that would last a lifetime. When I started incorporating this into my teaching style, not only did I see the results in the playing of my students, but the turnover rate of kids falling out of the lesson program declined dramatically. So what did I do that was so great? 1. I listened.
We always begin a lesson with just chatter. Believe me, I remember being a 12 year old kid with divorced parents and sometimes it is just great to have someone to listen to you. A meaningful "How are you?" goes a long way. 2. Laughter. To this day, I do not take myself seriously.
Yeah, I've recorded albums and I've gotten my music licensed on TV - but what does that mean to your student? I made the learning environment fun. All the pretentious babble about you and what you do and how you do it can wait. 3. Listen to what they want to do. I briefly had a guitar teacher that was all about making me a solo player- like all the metal players.
He was adamant about it and made me do all these boring scales. Don't get me wrong- scales are important but he never told me what to do with them. It wasn't until my 80's guitar teacher asked me "So what do YOU want to learn?" that I understood all the scale babble. He inserted all the difficult stuff in our lessons without me knowing. 4. With that said- songs, songs, and more songs! Write down what your student listens to and then make it a goal to learn the songs he or she likes.
When learning those songs, pick out the little techniques in it that give it character and incorporate it into you lesson. For example, if he or she hasn't learned a trill yet and you hear it in the song, point it out while listening to it and make it part of the lesson for that day. Hearing what something sounds like in a song they love goes a long way. 5. Have fun.
When you are bored I guarantee they'll get bored too. Now, we all have the students that will never be able to play an instrument for whatever reason but their parents make them. I am not saying that by using these teaching techniques that every student you encounter will be a pro in no time.
All I am saying is that once you build a strong healthy relationship with your student you will be their friend and that is something that lasts a lifetime no matter what.
Daniel Powers is the owner and operator of Real Brave Audio: a recording studio and music lesson facility. Real Brave Audio also has a music library online for license in TV and film at http://www.realbraveaudio.com