“The true teacher strives with his or her whole being to give the student everything they need to reach their highest potential as a guitar player. They never stop trying to communicate knowledge, and ultimately, transform the student.”
Lately I’ve been using the word “empowered” quite a bit in guitar lessons and in speaking with prospective students. Truth is, it’s a pretty standard word in my guitar teaching vocabulary, but for the past few days it seems to be cropping up left and right.
As synchronicity would have it – thanks Carl Jung and Sting! – a reprise of Jamie Andreas’s 2010 article, “The True Teacher”, appeared in my inbox today. And it’s all about empowerment.
As some of you may already know, I believe Ms. Andreas is one of the great minds in all of guitar instruction, and her essays have influenced my own methods greatly. Honestly, she’s a lot smarter than me, and definitely more hardcore in her technical approach to studying and playing the instrument, but I use her “guitar principles” every day. Not only has she influenced my views on guitar playing as a physical skill first and foremost, but her views on the “true teacher” have helped to shape and solidify my own teaching views at a deep level.
And anyone who teaches classical guitar in a Ramones t-shirt is obviously someone you should be listening to!
Some Serious Fun
As much as I like to ease a student’s anxiety by saying, “Hey, we’re not curing cancer here or building rocket ships; we’re just having fun and playing guitar!”, I’m always mindful of the fact that everyone takes lessons for a reason that’s important to them.
Kids have dreams of being a rock star (just like I did) and feeling cool and accomplished at a skill that turns people’s heads. Adults have dreams of finally learning to play the instrument that’s called out to them over the years (and feeling cool and accomplished, ‘natch), or of revisiting the instrument that they fell in love with as a kid and wound up putting away in favor of more “adult” endeavors. And regardless of the age, the desire to express oneself musically is virtually ingrained in the human experience.
No matter the dream or the goal, I have a responsibility as the teacher to help the student get there, and I take it seriously. If they’re not “getting it” – provided they put the appropriate amount of effort forth – then it’s my fault. It’s my job to provide the road map to success and encourage the student along the way. It’s on me to find a seventh way to explain a concept, just in case the first six don’t take. It’s important that I understand that I can’t just default to teaching everyone the way I was taught, as that may not be effective for everyone.
Ultimately, teaching anyone anything – whether playing guitar, cooking a meal, driving a car, or dismantling a bomb – is about empowering someone to go forth and be awesome on his own! A guitar student should leave me one day feeling that he can now teach himself what he wants to play, because he has the power within him to make it happen.
[One of the most empowering lessons I know of is The Lost Art of Learning By Ear. Check it out and feel the power!]
Not So Common Knowledge
Now some of you may be reading this and saying, “Well, duh. Everybody knows this stuff, JB.”
Not so fast.
There’s a reason why I’ve “inherited” a lot of students from other teachers. If guitar teachers really understood this, and cared about it, their students wouldn’t be searching for someone new.
Jamie Andreas has spelled out these ideas much more eloquently than I ever could in her beautiful essay, “The True Teacher”. I encourage you to click the link below and read it. The qualities she espouses are the ones you should be looking for in your own guitar instructor.
Hopefully my students have found these qualities in me.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
The True Teacher strives with his or her whole being to give the student everything they need to reach their highest potential as a guitar…
© 2012 – guitarprinciples.com
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