I’ve had exactly one guitar lesson and one keyboard lesson each 1-hour lesson was in the past month and each was the last lesson I will take with those teachers. I’ll tell those tales here below but first..

I’ve heard from others who’d paid in advance and had their teachers disappear (!), and other horror stories. I have recently heard from two customers who had the same teacher and spoke highly of him, but they were still in the first few weeks of lessons, so we’ll see.

I’d like to hear from you about your experience with local guitar teachers and maybe we can start helping others connect with good teachers. Now for my stories –

The guitar teacher had me come to his house and bring my guitar. When I arrived, I set my guitar case on the floor and it sat there the whole time while he showed off his playing ability. I never got to open my case, and I learned very little other than that he must have a big ego.

The keyboard teacher (I’ve been playing keyboard for 4 years) came to my house. I’m gonna guess she spent half an hour telling me about herself; 2 minutes watching me play; and 10 minutes writing down scales and inversions of triad chords.

My “homework” – learn to play those inversions in place of melody notes with my right hand (my left hand is already playing chords with auto-accompaniament).

OK, so there’s what – 13 scales? And 3 forms of each triad chord? So that’s just 39 chord forms to learn in one week – for my right hand which never before played a single chord!

She never asked me to try them out, to see how fast I might catch on. In fact, she left with me still thinking that I was supposed to play an “E” chord in place of an “E” note, rather than play “E” as the bass note of the chord. It took me a few minutes to figure that one out on my own. (Hey – I never claimed to be a music genius!)

So Saturday afternoon, I texted her to let her know I’m going to need another week if not months to learn to play all those chords, so we might want to cancel Tuesday’s session.

Her reply?

You take care. I need for you to pay $60 or $130 per month.

Now I get it that self-employed people have to focus on their income, etc. but in communication with students (i.e.: customers) I would think they’d at least want to give the impression that their focus is on the student.

What sort of reply might have kept me as a paying student? Something like –

Don’t worry about learning them all at once. We’ll work on a lesson with just one chord at a time – you’ll do fine!

Yeah, maybe a little focus on me and my concerns. In fact, I’m thinking that a good teacher might’ve had me try some of these inversions and based on what she saw, maybe scaled down the “homework” to something I could reasonably be expected to do in one week.

Now both of these teachers were nice people and quite personable. Just maybe not such great teachers.

So when you’re starting out with a new music teacher, pay attention to whether their focus is on you and how well you’re digesting the lesson or if they’re just spewing out information and expecting you to “just get it” on you own.

Beware – music teachers tend to want multiple lessons paid in advance. It’s good for them, that’s obvious. And maybe it’s good for you too because you’ll be less likely to skip a lesson you’ve already paid for.

But I’d caution you to consider having three or four lessons with the same instructor before thinking about pre-paying. You have a right to know what you’re buying before paying for it, and that first lesson may not be quite enough time to buid the trust and confidence necessary before handing over a hundred bucks or more.