The best thing about learning to play guitar is that the process is as much about fun as it is about learning. Even the initial frustrations that come with learning a new instrument are muted by the sheer joy the guitar student gains by those little incremental improvements. Many people undertake the journey to learn to play guitar on their own, and indeed many people have a keen musical ear and natural aptitude that allows them to learn by themselves and at their own pace. But those who want a more structured learning environment are going to need a teacher. This especially applies to children looking to take that first step to becoming a guitar virtuoso.

guitar lessonsBut hiring a guitar guru isn’t as simple as choosing a service ad on Craigslist. There are many teachers out there, which can make the process of finding the right one difficult. Students need to take into account a number of considerations before settling on someone, because it’s just these considerations that will determine the level of compatibility between student and teacher.

With that in mind here are some crucial things to keep in mind when looking for that first guitar teacher.

GO WITH A GAME PLAN

Guitar teachers don’t function to hold impromptu jam sessions with their students; the best ones always prepare and show up with a plan. A good teacher can evaluate a student on their first meeting and propose a structured method for achieving that student’s particular playing goals. These quality teachers will always be clear and open about their methodology and will oftentimes have the student perform exercises in order to evaluate their level of skill.

It’s important to always be wary of teachers who show up ill prepared or who insist on improvising the lesson. These “teachers” are likely making up everything as they go, and it’s not going to benefit the student in the long run. The worst-case scenario is that a student spends months with a poor teacher and winds up not progressing at all. And that waste of money and time is nothing compared to the sense of frustration the student feels at not reaching their potential.

LOOK FOR CONCRETE TEACHING SKILLS

Many interested in learning to play guitar will often watch a live performance with a virtuoso guitarist and decide that person is the teacher for them. But playing skills and teaching skills are two different things. Usually the best teachers are better suited to the classroom than the stage. There’s no point in choosing a teacher based on their general virtuosity because it will be many years – if ever – before the student is able to play that well. That’s why it’s best to focus on those teachers who have experience and success with teaching beginners.

GAUGE EXPERIENCE

Taking experience into account, it’s important to ask the potential teacher questions. How long have they been teaching? How many students do they teach per week? How long do students typically stay with the teacher? Questions such as these can help the student make the correct decision when it comes to hiring a teacher. If the potential teacher has a full roster of students, ensure that they are also organized and have a system in place to keep thorough track of those students’ progress. Because while a popular teacher is certainly fun, if they don’t have time for the student then there isn’t much point.

By following these simple guidelines students — as well as parents looking for an instructor for their children — should be able to search out and settle on a guitar teacher with whom they are compatible. And it’s just this compatibility that can mean the difference between getting a running start on guitar playing or stalling right out of the gate. Because in the end, the level of progress the student makes is directly is the direct result of a quality teacher.

Elizabeth Wright is a professional blogger that provides information and advice for early childhood education and after school care in Boca Raton. She writes for The Learning Experience, a leading Day Care Center.