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pix Finding A Guitar Teacher pix
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pix pix by Jean-Pierre Zammit  

Page added in December, 2013

About The Author

Jean-Pierre Zammit is a guitarist and instructor from Malta who has been playing guitar since the age of 14.

Zammit uses complex techniques, time shifts and scales in his writing, and always puts the song and the message he wants to portray first.

His is endorsed by Music Man guitars to use their Axis BFR models and Ernie Ball strings.

Please visit Jean-Pierre's web site.

Send comments or questions to Jean-Pierre Zammit.

© Jean-Pierre Zammit

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  Learning guitar can be an incredible experience but can be very tough and boring too. In this article I will try to pin point some very important factors that will help the student successfully go through and become a serious guitarist.

When a person decides to take upon himself the task of learning guitar his sure cause would be that of playing like his ‘heroes‘. Without any doubt no one would want to become a slack out of tune axe player..no?? So finding a teacher might be very helpful. I said ‘might’ cause there is no guarantee that a teacher can be always of help! I will explain later. Let’s say you’re looking for a teacher. What important questions one needs to seriously ask and hopefully answer?

* Did I hear his playing?
* Does his style of playing comes any close to the style I wish to learn most?
* Did I hear any students/bands that came out from under his wing?
* Does he teach individually?
* Does he cover all techniques, harmony/theory/modes etc in is lessons?
* Does he teach on a professional sound?

Let’s go quickly through these six questions and in the next article I’ll expand more. It’s important that you hear the playing of someone you wish to learn under cause if his playing is not convincing to you there’s a big chance that his teaching won’t be either. Reason is cause if you wish to play like Metallica for example and this person you’re considering plays jazz standards only it’s going to be tough to learn from him some serious Hetfield down picking riffing! Reason is that he will play/practice mainly with a clean tone and in complete different styles than what you had in mind. Do not believe the myth that everyone learns guitar in the same manner.

I came to learn through long years of teaching that when a person comes in front of me with the task of helping him play like his musical idols my responsibility is that of taking him there as soon as possible. So by starting to help him strum might not be the right approach for a person that dreams to play side by side with Kirk Hammet! It would be wiser to teach him rock dampening immediately. Like that not only he starts to hear for himself that he can actually make it but he starts to feel music in the way he’s been dreaming ..which is playing it! That’s why attending group lessons is not serious and not worth it. How can the teacher give you 100% attention and help you out with the small details that separate the ‘person who plays guitar’ from the ‘guitar player’ ? And how can he and you be focused on what’s being taught and learned when you have another 4/5 and sometimes even more people wanting the same attention as you? Not forgetting the very important aspect of sound in electric guitar.

If the teacher can’t teach me with a professional sound how to wail a pinched harmonic, mute fast legato lines, vibrato, hold the pick the best way to achieve superb speed bursts etc etc what is the point of attending a non one to one session? I might as well stay at home trying it myself! And here I’m just scratching the surface because there are hundreds of things one can learn on guitar but I’m sure you’re getting the idea. Hearing other students he taught can be a very good way of seeing the teacher’s versatility. If all the bands/musicians he taught sound the same you can be assured that he just goes by a system and applies it to everyone. I believe systems can be helpful only if they’re adjusted to the needs and likes of the student. But if you hear very different styles and genres in the people this particular teacher has taught be assured that he teaches individually and values seriously the goals of his students plus considering the vast musical taste and ability of the teacher himself.

Can he play flawlessly all imaginable guitar techniques that makes a guitar player sound awesome? Can he solo on every scale or mode and improvise the blues with intensity like the ‘greats’? Does he has punch in his timing and inventive way of creating guitar tunes? Can he explain chord/scale formation and pushes you to be creative? Get his email address or click on his website (if he has one) and ask him these questions without any hesitation. From his answer you will start to form a mental idea of what he can offer. Then book a lesson and see for yourself. By seeing other former students of his and realize they can play really well then you can rest your mind that if you go by his advice and instruction you too can become good and hopefully great! These are of utmost importance because if he can do these and all other unmentioned things on guitar and with guitar you can rest assured that he will teach you well.

So I close by saying that if you didn’t happen to find this kind of teacher mentioned up here or maybe you can’t afford his lesson fees don't murder your musical dreams by attending classes of six people playing sometimes out of tune and time in the same room. If you feel you can’t learn on your own you better invest in a good beginners guitar lessons DVD and go by it’s instruction. Then when you know enough get a more difficult one. Like that you’ll become better in a shorter span of time and you’ll be learning one to one at your own pace!

Think about that.

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pix Additional Columns by Jean-Pierre Zammit pix
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