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At The Back => The Dressing Room => Topic started by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 14, 2013, 05:55:19 PM

Title: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 14, 2013, 05:55:19 PM
Hi really need some honest advice off as many guitarists as possible.

I picked up the guitar at 15/16 and im 28 now.  By the time I was 20ish I was studying in the day at college and doing the odd guitar lesson in the evenings. It was nerve racking at first wondering if I had any business teaching but I taught people with some success even teaching a couple of people with severe learning disabilities in care units to play a few tunes in a very short space of time ito the point where they amazed themselves, staff and their families.  I wanted to try and teach guitar full time but my parents discouraged me and as I lived with them it meant I couldn't teach from home and I caved in to their way of thinking that it 'wasn't a proper job'.
I applied to join the police and got in and having been doing it for over 4 years. I know im in a good position in life for some one who wasn't academic or learnt a trade.  Any way the police isn't really working out for me for lots of reasons and the contract I signed for the good pay and pension is set to change as the government intends to dramatically reduce wages and pensions and make people who work in the public sector work longer.  It seems massively unfair but to work longer, get paid less and to pay more into my pension for get far far less. Im sure the government has done it make it so it isn't a long term career and its worked I want to leave the job is simply too stressful and all consuming to be told I don't deserve what I signed up for.

Now even I got a few students most days in the evening I could make a living from it and make even more if I got a 'day job' of some description.  I know im good enough to teach in every way but one my knowledge of theory is sub standard. I know the names of techniques, open chords, where notes are on the fretobaard the basics and never bothered with how modes work, what makes up a chord and why certain scales fit with chords the major scale bla bla.  I got by without it all playing by ear I guess...dunno.  I made the effort to learn 'theory' with a guy who is a multi instrumentalist and conducted orchestra's.  I got the concepts but struggled as I just couldn't apply them.....why bother if I could just 'do it'. 

Now im not ragging on any one who knows theory. There are great guitarists who use it to good effect and there are great ones who claim to not know any but im wondering if they really do and they think it seems cooler to pretend not to know?!
If any student asked me about the major scale or modes or why chords and scales are what they are I could not answer and its impossible for me to learn because I cant apply it now ive always done without.  I learnt that I often use harmonic minor, the Phrygian mode and exotic scales but so what.... I did it before without knowing what they were?!

Any way brutal opinions please...... should a teacher know the theory behind what they are doing or playing and showing?  Its not like music is an exact science or maths or whatever is it?! I never asked my teachers about theory clearly!

Brutal honesty required please!
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: JJretroTONEGOD on August 14, 2013, 09:44:01 PM
it'd be a good idea to have a minimum of grade 8 theory before doing it, I would be personally disappointed if my teacher didn't know more than me and I'd have to leave. It really is that important to me personally, feel is important too but I love to understand why a b5 or #4 interval moves me, in short everyone is different and I know I'm most likely to be in the minority so ignore my comments.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Nadz1lla on August 14, 2013, 11:37:46 PM
I couldn't comment on the giving lessons part, but I can relate to the Police being a let-down. My Dad just retired from the Police (he did 24 years in the Royal Marines, then joined the Police as a bobby when he came out at 40 and has been on the beat until "chucking out" time).

He said he enjoyed making a difference when he could, but the fatal combination of too much red tape and people who shouldn't have anything to do with "law enforcement" because of their easy corruptibility and laziness finally ground him down. He still worked out his full time to retirement, made great friends and helped put some proper scum behind bars, but was horrified at some of the utter scum behind the desks in the service. I have to say I agree. Someone tried to stitch him up and really had it in for him, but then they got caught breaking in to his locker so they're being investigated.

Add to that the way our government seems to want to actively dissuade people from keeping our streets safe, or care for others in our communities and healthcare... bad times.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 14, 2013, 11:56:00 PM
I couldn't comment on the giving lessons part, but I can relate to the Police being a let-down. My Dad just retired from the Police (he did 24 years in the Royal Marines, then joined the Police as a bobby when he came out at 40 and has been on the beat until "chucking out" time).

He said he enjoyed making a difference when he could, but the fatal combination of too much red tape and people who shouldn't have anything to do with "law enforcement" because of their easy corruptibility and laziness finally ground him down. He still worked out his full time to retirement, made great friends and helped put some proper scum behind bars, but was horrified at some of the utter scum behind the desks in the service. I have to say I agree. Someone tried to stitch him up and really had it in for him, but then they got caught breaking in to his locker so they're being investigated.

Add to that the way our government seems to want to actively dissuade people from keeping our streets safe, or care for others in our communities and healthcare... bad times.

I can see that.  I could write 10 pages about the rights and wrongs of the job but its also down to the government, the media, peoples perceptions, misunderstandings and of course the odd bad egg!  I hate the impact it has on my social life i.e the shifts, knowing if I do any thing semi dodgy people will judge me or go to the papers and most of all when I first meet people and tell them what I do its like theres a massive reaction either 'That's mega interesting' or 'I hate the police' and all I want to do is turn around and say 'Its my day off I don't get many, I want to drink my self senseless not talk about my job and the rights and wrongs of it / society and what you find interesting I find tedious and serious not a game'.  If I said that though people would think im rude and all coppers are rude so catch ARRRRGHHHH.  Any way its not a sob story im lucky to have a job and its my choice if I do it or not!  My Dad did it too and it was a massive reason things didn't work out between him and my mum. 

On to the theory side I appreciate your honesty but it isn't realistic to start theory from the basics when I just don't have a need for it :/  Ive been to 4 guitar teachers and 3 of the 4 never tried to 'push' theory on me at all. The 4th was a classical guitarist so that it was essential to read music and do every thing to the rules....it didn't last long haha.  As far as making music fit together my 3rd and best guitar teacher just said 'Use your ears and write one part at a time and check they work together bit by bit' and that made sense to me and ive stuck by it.

So in short I know I have a good manner, communication skills, technique a decent level of experience and a ton of passion but the theory well.... I know beginners who know more.
George Lynch claims to not know any theory and he does online lessons maybe I should check them out.....maybe hes being modest OR hes just plain lying giving it the 'I just drank lots of beer and $%&#ed loads of girls and picked up guitar instantly vibe'.  I mean eddie van halen claims to not know any theory but he was an accomplished pianist at a young age so that doesn't check out.....
Marty Friedman says he didn't know theory and he taught but was he being truthful?  He has a crazy style which kinda doesn't make sense or follow any rules so maybe so and I know my playing is a bit off the wall/progressive. 

I think famous/great guitarists do play down their knowledge of theory they probably think it makes them look cooler or seem like they have a natural gift.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Kiichi on August 15, 2013, 12:36:14 AM
On what pros claim it could also be a bit like me saying I donīt play well. I know I donīt, I have seen what people can do and I am  worlds away from that, still the normal folk usually tells me I am good and are pretty impressed by my scale dudeling.
Same effect could be happening there too, as they perhaps have worked with skilled jazz or classical guitarists who know insane amounts of theory and just feel they know jacksh*t in comparion to them, but compared to us they might be far ahead.
All a matter of relativity.

I am also definetly one of the do as I see fit school of things, being 95% self taught and not that great with theory. Still I know a few things, like when a song is in Em where I gotta play my usual major scale to play over it and a bit of quints to find the fitting blues harp for a chord progression.
Also I am exploring chord voicings by doing them and then figuring out what the heck I was doing a lot (sometimes other way round too), loving add9s for example. If I have a chord in major how do I make it minor or change it and such.
Most of the time I do something wonder about it and learn more on it.

Out of a teacher personally I would not see it as a requirement, but I would certainly very much apprechiate some for the cases where things like "hey I wanne play this folk song with blues harp, how do I figure out which one to use" or when explaing the Em, E and Em7 chords not just showing how to press them but also pointing out the relativ changes and that that is what makes it sounds so different.
Stuff like that is very good to know imho, as it is simple and easily applied.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 15, 2013, 01:09:48 AM
On what pros claim it could also be a bit like me saying I donīt play well. I know I donīt, I have seen what people can do and I am  worlds away from that, still the normal folk usually tells me I am good and are pretty impressed by my scale dudeling.
Same effect could be happening there too, as they perhaps have worked with skilled jazz or classical guitarists who know insane amounts of theory and just feel they know jacksh*t in comparion to them, but compared to us they might be far ahead.
All a matter of relativity.

I am also definetly one of the do as I see fit school of things, being 95% self taught and not that great with theory. Still I know a few things, like when a song is in Em where I gotta play my usual major scale to play over it and a bit of quints to find the fitting blues harp for a chord progression.
Also I am exploring chord voicings by doing them and then figuring out what the heck I was doing a lot (sometimes other way round too), loving add9s for example. If I have a chord in major how do I make it minor or change it and such.
Most of the time I do something wonder about it and learn more on it.

Out of a teacher personally I would not see it as a requirement, but I would certainly very much apprechiate some for the cases where things like "hey I wanne play this folk song with blues harp, how do I figure out which one to use" or when explaing the Em, E and Em7 chords not just showing how to press them but also pointing out the relativ changes and that that is what makes it sounds so different.
Stuff like that is very good to know imho, as it is simple and easily applied.

Yeah I know what you mean but for guitarists it seems perfectly acceptable to ask or say 'Do you know theory/I know theory' but you wouldn't dream of saying 'Do you know technique/I know technique'.  Guitarists in rock and metal styles are generally sub standard to jazz and classical styles and certainly cant hold a candle to classically trained musicians or composers.
This is what I mean when black people were slaves/coming out if it they playing the blues and some were blind and most/all must have been illiterate and they could probably read tab at best!

I must admit I have no experience of playing with any thing other than singers, guitarists, bass players and drummers but then again I cant imagine it being a problem.

What do you mean about explaining the differences between E, Em and say E5 or E7?

Problem is every time I move forward with theory im like 'so what'.  Having looked into modes I can recognize by ear what players/bands are using and I learnt I made a lot of use of the phrygian mode but after learning this is was like 'right so ive learnt what its called now but I knew how to play it any way before knowing what it all was'.  Kinda like David Beckham making perfect passes, crosses and free kicks but having no knowledge of physics to my mind!
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Kiichi on August 15, 2013, 01:23:51 AM
What do you mean about explaining the differences between E, Em and say E5 or E7?
Really just basic stuff, explaing that this is the Em, when I put my finger here it is a E. That is cause I changed one single note, which happens to the third, the chord defining one.
The lowest string is the chord base note if not marked otherwise. A chord is made up of three notes minimum. You might now say why is the D string not the third, it is the third string played. Yes but it is just an octave of the base note here (you can show octave shift style playing from this later).

Also easy to go to barree chords from there.

If you apply that knowledge that the third is defining for chords and that sometimes you encounter things like octaves you can basecally any chord and find the opposite version, be it minor or major.

Same idea with the 7th, explain what it is and perhaps where to find it and the student can find them himself naturally and does not really have to keep it as an extra chords, just as a variation.


To me this is still simple stuff but gives you so much in the way of understanding. The chords is no longer just some figure for which you gotta look up each and every variation. Show someone who knows things like that a A chords and he basecally already knows all variations and with a barree even more.
Now that is valuable in my book.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 15, 2013, 02:20:57 AM
What do you mean about explaining the differences between E, Em and say E5 or E7?
Really just basic stuff, explaing that this is the Em, when I put my finger here it is a E. That is cause I changed one single note, which happens to the third, the chord defining one.
The lowest string is the chord base note if not marked otherwise. A chord is made up of three notes minimum. You might now say why is the D string not the third, it is the third string played. Yes but it is just an octave of the base note here (you can show octave shift style playing from this later).

Also easy to go to barree chords from there.

If you apply that knowledge that the third is defining for chords and that sometimes you encounter things like octaves you can basecally any chord and find the opposite version, be it minor or major.

Same idea with the 7th, explain what it is and perhaps where to find it and the student can find them himself naturally and does not really have to keep it as an extra chords, just as a variation.


To me this is still simple stuff but gives you so much in the way of understanding. The chords is no longer just some figure for which you gotta look up each and every variation. Show someone who knows things like that a A chords and he basecally already knows all variations and with a barree even more.
Now that is valuable in my book.

I can see why that would be useful but the problem is for me personally it isn't BUT maybe I need to look at it from the angle of the student and what do they need to know and if I can look at it from their point of view I can explain it in a way that makes sense (If that makes sense).

I think you've brought up some valid points SO I need to go away and pretend you don't have that knowledge and try and explain why a b5 sharp 4 interval would move you and look at how chords change whilst still keeping the root or tonic whatever it is.

I don't mean to be pedantic but I think youd have a job explaining why any one liked a partocular scale, chord, progression, technique its kinda treating music as a science which ive obviously shyed away from but I need to respect some people wont have that view and if I were to take up teaching show them what they want to know.

I guess I need to come clean when it comes to a blatant limitation and lets face it there isn't a single guitarist in the world who is perfect although Shawn Lane probably comes close!
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: JJretroTONEGOD on August 15, 2013, 02:45:18 AM
most people see the use of theory but never actually learn it properly or apply it, which reminds me of morals... people often do the opposite of what they are supposed to believe in.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 15, 2013, 11:46:53 AM
Is a sharp 4 interval like an augmented interval and a tritone?
I know the tritone and the b5 sound dark moody and some might say unconventional.

When I look at a chord thinking about it is does make sense why its name is what it is and what it consists of but its just having the conviction to pass it on I guess!

Still time signatures always did my head in too which is funny because I love dream theater prog and jazz.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: MrBump on August 15, 2013, 11:56:38 AM
Just my opinion obviously, but...

I'd be very disappointed if I handed over cash to a guitar teacher and they couldn't answer questions I had on theory.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Kiichi on August 15, 2013, 12:19:09 PM
I don't mean to be pedantic but I think youd have a job explaining why any one liked a partocular scale, chord, progression, technique its kinda treating music as a science which ive obviously shyed away from but I need to respect some people wont have that view and if I were to take up teaching show them what they want to know.
I donīt wanne treat music as science either, no way, I personally just feel the stuff I described are tools to use.
Just for things like playing a chord progression and thinking "hey this one chords is lacking a little something, maybe I should try the 7th or add9 version" and you can do it to any chords without having to look it up on the web or something cause you know at about which point in the chord you need to change something and can figure it out.

As I said before you can of course work without theoretical knowledge and I do not approve of making music a science, but I found the ground I like and which I think is not unresonable.

You can give people an entire heavy toolbox full of screwdrivers to haul around or give them one with a changable tip.
At least that is the way it is in my mind.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 15, 2013, 01:02:27 PM
I don't mean to be pedantic but I think youd have a job explaining why any one liked a partocular scale, chord, progression, technique its kinda treating music as a science which ive obviously shyed away from but I need to respect some people wont have that view and if I were to take up teaching show them what they want to know.
I donīt wanne treat music as science either, no way, I personally just feel the stuff I described are tools to use.
Just for things like playing a chord progression and thinking "hey this one chords is lacking a little something, maybe I should try the 7th or add9 version" and you can do it to any chords without having to look it up on the web or something cause you know at about which point in the chord you need to change something and can figure it out.

As I said before you can of course work without theoretical knowledge and I do not approve of making music a science, but I found the ground I like and which I think is not unresonable.

You can give people an entire heavy toolbox full of screwdrivers to haul around or give them one with a changable tip.
At least that is the way it is in my mind.

Sorry that comment wasn't directed at you and in any case I fully agreed with what you said and would have no problem teaching that  and and im not being funny with any one I asked for honesty and I need it this will be a big decision for me.  Im firing ideas around and need honest feedback im could be quitting a career for this.  What im getting at is explaining why some one like particular chords scales of whatever might be quite hard at times but then again some chords or modes whatever give off a blatant mood and feel I think im over analysing.....

I think the top and bottom of it is maybe I can teach theory if a student has a question about it and explains why it would be useful to them and I could learn it on their behalf and plan a lesson around it the following week or whatever.  I have learnt aspects of 'theory' and immediately disregarded it because I 'didn't need it' but if they want to delve into why they like certain scales or modes or chords then I could look into that maybe?

I get what you mean if you were disappointed about your teacher having a gap in knowledge but surely every teacher or guitarist has none are perfect.  I know in terms of rock and metal I can play circles around guitarists/teachers in my area can pin down exactly how I got to that point with my technique so that's got to count for some thing.  My 2nd and 3rd teacher basicially told me id surpassed them in terms of technique.  My 3rd teacher was great when I basicially said I wanted to learn all the vai and satch stuff he basicially said it would be a challenge for him and hed have to think up some lesson plans which I didn't have a problem with personally.....

I remember teachers in the past flat out telling me 'Theres no point in doing that' if I asked to learn a certain some thing maybe that was a secret way of saying 'I don't know how to do that'!

Any way im not convinced I have what it takes because of this massive gap in knowledge I think I need to do some more research maybe go for a few lessons my self again to brush up in this one area and not forget it all this time.

Thanks for the comments and honesty though I need it and it is helping.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: dave_mc on August 15, 2013, 02:06:33 PM
If I had a teacher, I'd prefer that they knew theory. (The actual principles behind the theory are pretty simple, it's applying them that's difficult. If you're really struggling with theory it may well be worth taking a piano lesson or two (or even just reading a book about piano), the notes are laid out much more logically than on a guitar.)

Of course, on the other side I'd also prefer they could play well too. I agree with you that knowing theory but not half being able to play (or conversely, not knowing theory but being able to "do" it anyway) is more important.

I also wonder about the point you said about good players pretending not to know theory because it sounds cooler :lol: I dunno.

I'm probably not your target audience though, I've been playing as long as you have.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Kiichi on August 15, 2013, 02:26:34 PM
My 3rd teacher was great when I basicially said I wanted to learn all the vai and satch stuff he basicially said it would be a challenge for him and hed have to think up some lesson plans which I didn't have a problem with personally.....

I remember teachers in the past flat out telling me 'Theres no point in doing that' if I asked to learn a certain some thing maybe that was a secret way of saying 'I don't know how to do that'!
That "there is no point in doing that" is basecally the worst thing a guitar teacher can say imho. Admitting I donīt really know that yet either / it would be a challenge for me and then going and learning it to teach it is much better.
Adjusting yourself to the needs of your students is important. Of course you gotta guide them, but things can easily go wrong there.
That is why some basic knowledge (which I am sure you will be able to easily pick up) is cool, cause if then a student asks you for something you can either answer straight away if it is basic or build upon your own knowledge and look it up for him to make it understandable. You may not be able to apply it for yourself, but seeing and respecting the worth of it might be all you need.

I quit my teacher as he was insisting on teaching me acoustic guitar in the basic way, which I had no real interrested in at the time (my folk phase only started rather recently). He was good at that, but I wanted to play electric, so I stopped the lessons, bought a 7 string electric and learned the first verse and chorus of Dream Theater - A Rite of Passage. After struggeling with Behind Blue Eyes as a chord version and such before that really showed me something.

I also definetly wanne check out another teacher some day (wanne learn sweeping someday maybe) but itīs gotta be one which while leading me is leading me in a direction I want, where I can see my goal at the horizon.
That is the most important thing for me I feel.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 15, 2013, 03:05:36 PM
Okay first of all i'm very grateful to all of you for the advice and I think you are all right.

What im going to do is dissect my own playing again and find out the the theory behind what im  doing and what im attracted to.  All this has really inspired me to do this again and im going to see it through to the end and know ill have to go through some mind numbing basics to get to the juicy stuff. Will I show students any off my own back?  Ill be able to say once ive nailed it but I need to get to a point where I can explain what im doing if any one asks as a minimum.

On about good/bad teachers....you have got to adapt for sure.  My first guitar teacher didn't last long because he just wouldn't even start me on the road to learning van halen and metallica type stuff.  Now don't get me wrong he taught me from scratch  and you cant just start cracking out van halen and metallica but he could have taught me the simple things and explained how his influences could mesh with it. He could have taught me the intro to nothing else matters surely?! Looking back he was a really good texas blues kinda guy (couldn't give a damn about blues at 15/16) he just had a complete disregard for I what I wanted to do ......its not as if kirk hammett doesn't play the blues at times is it ....and both bands use simple chords here and there.....any way rant over lots of people thought he was great I was just into full on post van halen rock and metal.

2nd teacher taught me a fair bit but refused to go into malmsteen, vai or satriani territory.  Now I admit I wasn't ready  but he could have shown me the odd arpeggio, simple tapping bit or whatever to inspire me but he was more bothered about learning riffs here and there and playing his prs and telling me how good Santana was.

My 3rd teacher proper set me on my way even though he didn't have the full on chops of those guys.  He was good at tapping to be fair but not only showed me one arpeggio for sweep picking (Saying that's all he could do) and from there I could teach my self those things.  He taught me more than that too over time but some of that was from just chatting and him turning me on to players like alex skolnick, jeff waters and got me into recording and writing my own songs.  In the end he said id surpassed him in terms of the direction I wanted to go in and have 'taught my self' ever since.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: MDV on August 15, 2013, 06:21:22 PM
It depends on the pupils.

You're in a similar position to me. I do a couple of things well and know theory through to what modes are and some basics of what to do with them, ok chord construction and and few other bits and bobs, but I've barely scratched the surface. Frankly, I dont have much respect for music theory (but thats another story).

I just had a guy in whos sitting his grade 7 through another teacher. He wanted to refine his technique, build up speed and learn sweeping. These things I can do. In *his* opinion I can do them better than the teacher thats putting him through his grades, so he came to me.

Clear communication and expectation management. Don't take on a pupil you cant teach anything or is going down a route that you can't or don't want to follow.

Provided you both know whats going on, do it.

If you feel you need to expand your own knowledge, then do that first, or as you go.

One thing I learned in teaching was how little I really know. It did me good. I mean, I knew that there were whole worlds of playing I've barely glanced at, but it really is a vast body of knowledge and ability. No one has all of it covered. You have to be realistic with what you can do, and honest with your pupils about it.

Then, the other side; the pupils perspective: they're all after something different. Some want to develop music theory. I cant help those guys, I send them to a walking theory encylopedias. Some want to just be able to strum along a few simple songs. No problem. Some want to go through grades. I want nothing to do with it. Some want to be james hetfield. Okey dokey. Some actively want to avoid theory and just develop technique. Great. Some think youre a song book. Boring. All of them want something different out of it and provided you can adapt your teaching style and the content of your lessons to that, then all is well.

Bite off lessons or pupils that you can't show anything meaningful to and you won't enjoy it and your pupils wont get anything from it (which is the main thing).
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 15, 2013, 08:43:59 PM
It depends on the pupils.

You're in a similar position to me. I do a couple of things well and know theory through to what modes are and some basics of what to do with them, ok chord construction and and few other bits and bobs, but I've barely scratched the surface. Frankly, I dont have much respect for music theory (but thats another story).

I just had a guy in whos sitting his grade 7 through another teacher. He wanted to refine his technique, build up speed and learn sweeping. These things I can do. In *his* opinion I can do them better than the teacher thats putting him through his grades, so he came to me.

Clear communication and expectation management. Don't take on a pupil you cant teach anything or is going down a route that you can't or don't want to follow.

Provided you both know whats going on, do it.

If you feel you need to expand your own knowledge, then do that first, or as you go.

One thing I learned in teaching was how little I really know. It did me good. I mean, I knew that there were whole worlds of playing I've barely glanced at, but it really is a vast body of knowledge and ability. No one has all of it covered. You have to be realistic with what you can do, and honest with your pupils about it.

Then, the other side; the pupils perspective: they're all after something different. Some want to develop music theory. I cant help those guys, I send them to a walking theory encylopedias. Some want to just be able to strum along a few simple songs. No problem. Some want to go through grades. I want nothing to do with it. Some want to be james hetfield. Okey dokey. Some actively want to avoid theory and just develop technique. Great. Some think youre a song book. Boring. All of them want something different out of it and provided you can adapt your teaching style and the content of your lessons to that, then all is well.

Bite off lessons or pupils that you can't show anything meaningful to and you won't enjoy it and your pupils wont get anything from it (which is the main thing).

Again spot on.

Its like people who talk about guitarists and say 'They can play any thing' no one comes close. I have no idea who the greatest guitar teacher is but Joe Satriani has got to be up there and in some ways he surpassed his students and in other ways his students surpassed him....extreme but it does illustrate the point.  Id be happy if I could get students up to a point where they were better than me but not without a fight.

I think 'theory' is a touchy subject with guitarists.

I stuck my head in a few theory books this evening and made some good progress but packed in after 2 hours solid my attention just went.  I found that no one book explained it in a way I could understand and im having to combine parts of them but that's working for me.

Like I said I approached a multi instrumentalist/composer who was a theory god (compared to guitarists) and he questioned why I wanted to go so in depth.  I just said to help me write music and he said you only have to go so far....keep it simple and to your needs.  I ended up jacking that in as per my original post as I began to grasp the theory of what I was doing but saw no need for it but now im looking into teaching I need to pick it up again hopefully ill get there quickly.

Are you a full time teacher then or just do the odd lesson here and there?
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Kiichi on August 16, 2013, 02:35:32 AM
When trying to learn theory books mostly disappoint. Which is the main reason you need teachers for it.
What I can advice you to do, as it is a technique that has worked for me, is that when you read about something, anything, immediatly try to apply it in some way. Be it just the before mentioned major to minor change for a chord, enact it somehow. Seeing (hearing) the effects of the theory, be it all so theoretical still helps a lot, at least it does for me.

Everyone learns differently, but two things that in my experience help greatly are interrest (which you have to a certain degree) and applying it to something you understand (for you that is playing, you will see how things can work for you or your students if you force yourself that first step).
The second one can help greatly with the first one I feel.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 16, 2013, 11:20:01 AM
When trying to learn theory books mostly disappoint. Which is the main reason you need teachers for it.
What I can advice you to do, as it is a technique that has worked for me, is that when you read about something, anything, immediatly try to apply it in some way. Be it just the before mentioned major to minor change for a chord, enact it somehow. Seeing (hearing) the effects of the theory, be it all so theoretical still helps a lot, at least it does for me.

Everyone learns differently, but two things that in my experience help greatly are interrest (which you have to a certain degree) and applying it to something you understand (for you that is playing, you will see how things can work for you or your students if you force yourself that first step).
The second one can help greatly with the first one I feel.

Mate yeah glad you said that because that's the line with what im going down I figured if I didn't do that id just be memorizing things which would be almost impossible and id inevitably forget.  I have a basic looper at home so I have been messing with things.  I'm going to give the books a go as I have quite a few comprehensive ones and between them hopefully they should give the answers in a way I can understand. 
Maybe one day I could write a book on theory for people who find it hard to grasp ;)
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: witeter on August 16, 2013, 03:48:36 PM
I teach some guitar on the side, and i dont really know much theory at all. I think it depends who your audience is, BUT if you are going to go fulltime with it i think equipping yourself in the best way possible is a must. Music pupils tend to come in waves, as in - they dont tend to be long term pupils, hence you are always having to be ready to take on new people. So, you have to make sure people are happy to come to you and not someone else. So, for fulltime guitar teaching I would say an understanding of theory would be very useful. But I also think that people skills and offering lessons that are pupil centered-rather than the 'i am the teacher therefore you will play arpeggios whether thats what u wanted or not' are, if anything, more important in building a good reputation and customer base. Good luck man!
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: dave_mc on August 16, 2013, 04:12:05 PM
I think there's a difference between knowing theory, and knowing how to apply theory. Knowing the first and not the second can make you sound like a robot, or at very least, very derivative. It's also possible to know theory and be a pretty poor player. Obviously this is verging on reductio ad absurdum (and my theory is shaky and rudimentary at best, I'm not saying I'm amazing at it or anything like that :oops: ), but I know a little bit of music theory and I can't play a note on a trumpet. Learning more music theory won't make me better at the trumpet unless I practise the trumpet as well.

I'm very wary of people who claim that knowing theory killed their creativity- more likely, the theory just showed them that that killer, unique G, C D chord progression they came up with was actually a total cliché. I mean you wouldn't say that learning proper spelling and grammar made you into a bad writer, would you? Or even reading a few classic books to make sure you weren't just ripping them off.

However, I'm also wary of people who act like you can't be a good player or enjoy it without theory. Because that's nonsense too. Aside from anything else, theory is sort of a combination of all the collected music knowledge we have that people were doing instinctively before music theory existed- music doesn't come from the theory, theory comes from the music. (I think. Don't quote me on that. :lol: ) It's also worth pointing out that theory is a suggestion rather than a rule, most of the time.

I think a good quote (I forget who said this... it might have been dimebag but I'm really not sure) is (paraphrased) to learn as much theory as you can, and then forget it. Hopefully it goes into your subconscious, kind of thing, and you'll instinctively know what you're doing.

It also depends on what you're like, of course. If you've tried to "get" music theory and it's just not going in and you're having a perfectly good time without it, I wouldn't worry about it, kind of thing.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 16, 2013, 04:57:29 PM
Theory is a touchy subject for guitarists. There are those that know it and think that those who dont are some how inferior and there are those who dont and think those who have to rely on it are inferior because they dont have 'feel'.

I just have the hippy mentality of do what works for you but I take on board peoples feelings on a teacher having to know it and if theory will help me rake the money in im all for it :)  Thats what it comes down to.  I know my personal playing style is progressive and exotic so when you deviate from the norms any way it becomes less relevant.  If I was a session guy trying to go for specific moods and feelings then yeah thats when it might be harder to just do it off the cuff but im not an improviser I just like to plan and make the best music I can.

My attitude is if youre rgood if youre bad it doesnt matter if you can baffle people with theory but I know all to well people such as Joe Satriani apply theory and make fantastic music and there are those who have the technique and the theory and still sound awful that Hess guy who does the online lessons makes awful music to me but meh my opinion.

I may have read some thing about dimebag similar to my mind he said he didnt know much at all and he ragged on people that did saying they didnt have fail.

My favourite quote was from dave mustaine 'scales are for fish'. Gotta love that
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: JJretroTONEGOD on August 16, 2013, 05:18:26 PM
I'm also convinced that most famous guitarists who claim to know nothing actually know a lot about theory, there's no way they can't know what they are doing and what the chords are e.t.c. I always take it with a pinch of salt. Edddie Van Halen is a prime example, he has clearly studied classical music and knows a lot about composition even if he says he doesn't.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: MDV on August 16, 2013, 06:13:06 PM
I'm also convinced that most famous guitarists who claim to know nothing actually know a lot about theory, there's no way they can't know what they are doing and what the chords are e.t.c. I always take it with a pinch of salt. Edddie Van Halen is a prime example, he has clearly studied classical music and knows a lot about composition even if he says he doesn't.

There is such a thing as the more you know the more you know you dont know
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 17, 2013, 12:59:54 AM
I'm also convinced that most famous guitarists who claim to know nothing actually know a lot about theory, there's no way they can't know what they are doing and what the chords are e.t.c. I always take it with a pinch of salt. Edddie Van Halen is a prime example, he has clearly studied classical music and knows a lot about composition even if he says he doesn't.

Eddie definitely knew theory because he was a classically trained pianist as a child although he plays this down as it isnt very rock n roll.  In fairness though what Eddie did for his time was beyond theory but hes the exception not the rule.

I think there have been great guitarists who wont have known any thing but its hard to take it at face value.

Chuck Schuldiner always insisted he never learnt any thing beyond beginners theory and I believe him. The last thing that guy was was some sort of poser trying to be cool he hated stereotypical ock star/metal behaviour.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: dave_mc on August 17, 2013, 05:04:37 PM
I'm also convinced that most famous guitarists who claim to know nothing actually know a lot about theory, there's no way they can't know what they are doing and what the chords are e.t.c. I always take it with a pinch of salt.

Agreed. Or at least, they may well be doing it instinctively and never actually specifically sat down and learned theory, but they're still using theory (if that makes sense).
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 18, 2013, 05:31:22 PM
I'm also convinced that most famous guitarists who claim to know nothing actually know a lot about theory, there's no way they can't know what they are doing and what the chords are e.t.c. I always take it with a pinch of salt.

Agreed. Or at least, they may well be doing it instinctively and never actually specifically sat down and learned theory, but they're still using theory (if that makes sense).

You dont have to know what the chord is to know it sounds good or bad though.  Joe Pass didnt know the name of every chord he played and he was one of the greatest jazz guitiarsts of all time.  There's no way the really old blues guys could have known theory either most/all would have been illiterate and some of them were blind and certainly none could afford some sort of top notch music education.

Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: dave_mc on August 18, 2013, 06:45:22 PM
Oh I agree. That's sort of what I meant. If you don't know theory it doesn't necessarily mean you're just hitting random notes, lol.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 19, 2013, 11:17:31 AM
Oh I agree. That's sort of what I meant. If you don't know theory it doesn't necessarily mean you're just hitting random notes, lol.

I knew that's what you meant and. I im agreeing think there's loads of factors which come into play when writing music other than theory. Your point in valid because id 'developed my own style' knowing i was picking up on eastern and classical ideas and when I took the time to learn theory I was using a lot of minor scales and the phrygian mode.  Before that I didnt know what it was but id got it down and had it figured out. 

Luck, plagerism, errors, planning, inspiration using your ears and ideally innovation also coming into play when writing music.

Most theory was thought up hundreds of years ago and for our corner of the world a lot of was from the church.  They obviously knew the tri tone sounded evil and banned it but what else has happened in music since that they or other theory buffs didnt consider?
Tremelo dive bombs and crazy harmonics, masses of distortion, feedback, different effects, different techniques, screaming like Rob Halford.  Guys like Rob Halford, Ian Gillain etc just did whatdid and they didnt pick it up from a book what they did was just screaming and some people thought it was really musical.  Kirk Hammett slipping his string off the fret board on the recorded solo of master of puppets and keeping it because it sounded cool.  Conventional theory would not have acknowledged these things and people have explained it since but most of the guys at the time would have just done it inetnionally or by accident without thinking of the theory behind it. 
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: JJretroTONEGOD on August 19, 2013, 04:53:59 PM
Oh I agree. That's sort of what I meant. If you don't know theory it doesn't necessarily mean you're just hitting random notes, lol.

I knew that's what you meant and. I im agreeing think there's loads of factors which come into play when writing music other than theory. Your point in valid because id 'developed my own style' knowing i was picking up on eastern and classical ideas and when I took the time to learn theory I was using a lot of minor scales and the phrygian mode.  Before that I didnt know what it was but id got it down and had it figured out. 

Luck, plagerism, errors, planning, inspiration using your ears and ideally innovation also coming into play when writing music.

Most theory was thought up hundreds of years ago and for our corner of the world a lot of was from the church.  They obviously knew the tri tone sounded evil and banned it but what else has happened in music since that they or other theory buffs didnt consider?
Tremelo dive bombs and crazy harmonics, masses of distortion, feedback, different effects, different techniques, screaming like Rob Halford.  Guys like Rob Halford, Ian Gillain etc just did whatdid and they didnt pick it up from a book what they did was just screaming and some people thought it was really musical.  Kirk Hammett slipping his string off the fret board on the recorded solo of master of puppets and keeping it because it sounded cool.  Conventional theory would not have acknowledged these things and people have explained it since but most of the guys at the time would have just done it inetnionally or by accident without thinking of the theory behind it.

Theory started in ancient greece when they started to measure everything including string vibrations harmonics and giving the notes a systematic value for the first time, I'd say it's thousands of years old not hundreds.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 19, 2013, 05:09:17 PM
I know the ancient greeks are responsible for a hell of a lot not just music but I was talking more about western music i.e building from the major scale and all of the modes which the church revised and put into a form pretty much every one nowadays learns from.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: jpfamps on August 24, 2013, 09:01:20 PM


I think a good quote (I forget who said this... it might have been dimebag but I'm really not sure) is (paraphrased) to learn as much theory as you can, and then forget it. Hopefully it goes into your subconscious, kind of thing, and you'll instinctively know what you're doing.


Charlie Parker certain said something a kin to this.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: jpfamps on August 24, 2013, 09:43:51 PM
I went from repairing building amps in my spare time, to now doing this for a living.

Before I started working on amps commercially I only worked on/ built gear I was interested in myself, mainly vintage valve amps.

Once I started fixing gear on a commercial basis, which I did several years before it became a full time job, I had to learn how a much wider spectrum of gear works, eg effects pedals, which I have very little interest in as a user, although I found the electronics very interesting and stimulating.

If you are going from the transition of doing some lessons on the side, to doing it as a full time job (as I have), then you will be subject to market forces, and you will need to decide whether you can afford to turn away prospective students who want to learn something you don't feel you can teach them, regardless of whether you think they "need" to know this or not. I don't refuse to fix chorus pedals because I think chorus is a hideous effect.

I suspect that there are few guitar teachers who can teach all styles (for example could you teach Danny Gatton's picking style?), and I'm sure all teachers have their specialist areas.

Nevertheless, I think some understanding of theory is a good idea as it can provide a framework for some students to understand what they are trying to achieve. Remember we all learn at different rates and with different methods.

Of course in an ideal world we would all learn everything by ear, however not everyone has the talent to do this (I certainly don't), so some theoretical support is of benefit. You should bear in mind that the OP is clearly a very capable guitarist, and I suspect few of his prospective students will achieve that level of capability.

I have a reasonable grasp of theory, and have never found it particularly troublesome to get my head around (although I am mystified by any guitarist's obsession with modes.......).

As an example, I think you should be able to teach a student how to work out the notes in a chord, and thus work out the chord shapes and arpeggios, eg a Dmin9, or an G13.

I think the bottom line is that you need to feel you are giving value for money, which incidentally I feel I do with my repair business.
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Jimmy E Moorby on August 25, 2013, 01:09:30 AM
I went from repairing building amps in my spare time, to now doing this for a living.

Before I started working on amps commercially I only worked on/ built gear I was interested in myself, mainly vintage valve amps.

Once I started fixing gear on a commercial basis, which I did several years before it became a full time job, I had to learn how a much wider spectrum of gear works, eg effects pedals, which I have very little interest in as a user, although I found the electronics very interesting and stimulating.

If you are going from the transition of doing some lessons on the side, to doing it as a full time job (as I have), then you will be subject to market forces, and you will need to decide whether you can afford to turn away prospective students who want to learn something you don't feel you can teach them, regardless of whether you think they "need" to know this or not. I don't refuse to fix chorus pedals because I think chorus is a hideous effect.

I suspect that there are few guitar teachers who can teach all styles (for example could you teach Danny Gatton's picking style?), and I'm sure all teachers have their specialist areas.

Nevertheless, I think some understanding of theory is a good idea as it can provide a framework for some students to understand what they are trying to achieve. Remember we all learn at different rates and with different methods.

Of course in an ideal world we would all learn everything by ear, however not everyone has the talent to do this (I certainly don't), so some theoretical support is of benefit. You should bear in mind that the OP is clearly a very capable guitarist, and I suspect few of his prospective students will achieve that level of capability.

I have a reasonable grasp of theory, and have never found it particularly troublesome to get my head around (although I am mystified by any guitarist's obsession with modes.......).

As an example, I think you should be able to teach a student how to work out the notes in a chord, and thus work out the chord shapes and arpeggios, eg a Dmin9, or an G13.

I think the bottom line is that you need to feel you are giving value for money, which incidentally I feel I do with my repair business.

Since I posted this ive had a right good crack at theory and covered the outright beginners stuff which led to what makes up a chord and how to work out modes etc.  Should have learnt the major scale early on i guess and it would have all fallen into place a lot easier but after youve been playing for over 10 years it isnt all that appealing to go back to basics like that but ive done it now.

Ive got to say it is hard when you dont know how to apply it/need to apply it (want which ever way you want to put it) because theres no point to it for me at this stage but ive done it now and because i wont practise it ive written it all down in a way I can refer to and instantly understand and now hope fully ill be able to explain it in the simplest terms which  some seem capable of from reading books and looking at stuff online!  It's still a weakness in that I cant just instantly come out with it but its still all new.....

I know what you mean about Danny Gatton's style.  I couldnt play that stuff as it stands with such speed and precision but I guess it comes down to where the student's at and I could set them on their way or whatever and it probably wouldnt be beyond me its just getting the motivation to learn some thing like that when its not completely my thing.
I dont know who the greatest teacher is of all time but Satriani has gotta be up there given who he's taught but he doesnt come close to being able to 'play any thing' he certaninly seems to know his stuff though and his solo work is awesome.

Chris Broderick seems as if he can play pretty much any thing and convincingly but I cant think of any one else like  him. Its obvious to me where guitarists strengths and weaknesses lie.  Ask Danny Gatton to play like Stanley Jordan or Shawn Lane.... it just wouldnt happen but you wouldnt think any less of them for not taking on each others techniques fully and id take lessons off all of them!

I know from learning lots of Al Di Meola stuff he slates any kind of picking techniques that arent strict alternate picking with a plectrum (e.g legato, sweep picking etc etc). I dont agree personally but I can see why he says it and I respect his views and for his style of music nothing else would do.  I defnitely wouldnt troll him as a teacher just because he wasnt good at sweep picking or tapping (maybe he is i dunno) but I think the reality is if youre a dedicated student you want to learn from as many sources as you can we dont all just learn from one guitar player do we?

I dont think anyone's technique is faultless or beyond criticism I remember some one saying in terms of his soloing techniques that John Petrucci was a 'jack of all trades and master of none'.Clearly a ridiculous remark but he isnt 'the best' at any technique in particular but I like the way he fuses everything together which many dont/cant do. Some one like Jason Becker is a master sweep picker but ive gotta be honest after a bit as good as he is/was it grates on me and i just wish hed mix it up with something else.  Not ragging on jason becker hes a legend no doubt and his amazing abilities were taken far too earily... just my 2 cents though

Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: dave_mc on August 25, 2013, 06:06:30 PM
Charlie Parker certain said something a kin to this.

It may well have been him :lol:

Good post afterwards about the market forces etc. thing too :)
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Lew on August 28, 2013, 11:29:16 PM
I've not read through all of the replies, sorry (I will) and this might end up being a long post and not all relevant but you might find it useful so imma ramble on.

It seems that I'm in a very similar boat to you. I've been very calculated over the last three years and have been working on my days off and using up holiday time to go and work music jobs and build up a network - Primarily, I've been working for a music charity. Your attitude of getting a 'day job' and filling the evenings with guitar teaching is wise and is exactly what I'm doing. The hope is that eventually I will have enough music work to do it full-time.

A few weeks ago I got a new job and changed from shift hours to office hours because I wanted to do more with music and got tired of having to turn opportunities down (as well as being sick of my job) because of cr@ppy 12hr shifts and alternating days off - which is what I imagine you do? (my wife is a CDO and works 2x12 days + 2x12 nights then 4 off)? I've worked with mental health and challenging behavior so maybe I've got a glimpse into the stress you're under as a bobby.

It was a huge step for me, because I took quite the pay cut and was worried about doing the office hours (see my other thread if you can be bothered). Money aside it turns out it was one of the best things I've done for my mental health and general well being :-) It's been a bit over two weeks since I went office hours and I already have a couple of 'regular' students and have a meeting next week about the possibility of more work (watch this space).

So what I'm saying is do it, but make sure you're bills are completely covered by a day job and then anything on top is your spending money - or in my case Juansolos money ;-)

Theory is important. In the very least as a way to have a musical dialogue. The competition is FIERCE and the other guys will know it. Sounds like you've got an ok grasp of it, though so I'm sure you'll be fine or at worst be able to bullshitee your way through it and figure out what you need to learn before the next lesson! I've got a degree in music and went to a guitar 'college' in my teens and I'm pretty $%&#ing terrible at theory. What's important is to be able to teach the student what they need to know in a practical sense and that's not just limited to theory but about timing and rhythm and technique.

One of the best things you can do is get a guitar teacher yourself, even if it's once every few weeks. Watch what he does and rip him off ;-p

Hope some of that helps :-)
Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: mgelinas on September 24, 2013, 08:37:10 AM
Don't let the noise of others' opinions drowns out your own inner voice, and most important,have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

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Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Dave Sloven on September 24, 2013, 08:45:57 AM
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Title: Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
Post by: Klomba on July 28, 2019, 06:46:12 PM
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