Issue 50: The difference a real teacher can make

I started learning the guitar many, many years ago, with my brother’s discarded half-size guitar and tutor book; I think it was a “A Tune A Day for Guitar”.

At some stage I learned to play “House of the Rising Sun”, and that’s about as far as I got.

Much later, at University, I decided to learn again, so bought a classical guitar and another tutor book. Every so often I would come over all enthusiastic for a couple of months, and so added a few very simple Spanish etudes to my repertoire.

More years passed, and I watched in open-mouthed admiration as another teacher lead a junior choir which great skill. She had an impressive guitar slung across her shoulders, and I realised that the shoulder strap was key. It meant that she could signal to the children without having to continually pick it up and put it down, and even twizzle it right round so that it was out of the way, upside-down across her back. (Also, being able to play it really well helps.) That’s what made me part with my money in exchange for my guitar of my own.

A short while ago, I had my first ever guitar lesson, from a friend who teaches at weekends. Revelation! With just one simple suggestion, he has revolutionised my playing.

I’m not knocking the “teach-yourself” approach. But it just goes to show that lessons from someone who really knows how to play an instrument, and equally importantly, knows how to teach an instrument, is a very worthwhile investment of time and money.

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