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Author Topic: Thinking of teaching guitar full time  (Read 8890 times)

Jimmy E Moorby

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Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« 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!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 06:04:17 PM by JimmyMoorby »

JJretroTONEGOD

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #1 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.
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Nadz1lla

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #2 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.

Jimmy E Moorby

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #3 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.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 12:03:59 AM by JimmyMoorby »

Kiichi

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #4 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.
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Jimmy E Moorby

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #5 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!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 01:22:40 AM by JimmyMoorby »

Kiichi

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #6 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.
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Jimmy E Moorby

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #7 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!
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 02:23:55 AM by JimmyMoorby »

JJretroTONEGOD

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #8 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.
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Jimmy E Moorby

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #9 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.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 11:54:35 AM by JimmyMoorby »

MrBump

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #10 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.
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Kiichi

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #11 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.
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Jimmy E Moorby

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #12 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.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 01:11:07 PM by JimmyMoorby »

dave_mc

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #13 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.

Kiichi

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Re: Thinking of teaching guitar full time
« Reply #14 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.
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