What to Avoid When Selecting a Guitar Instructor


February 18th, 2013


When selecting a guitar instructor it’s important to ask yourself a few fundamental questions. Is the teacher a nice person and are they actually trying to help the student? Do they offer studio lessons in person as well as web cam guitar lessons or guitar lessons over skype? Is the teacher a credible business person with decent credentials and good references in the community? Or is he, per chance, a neurotic nincompoop with one foot on a banana peel and the other in a padded cell?

Here are a few archetypal bad teacher personality types to avoid at all costs:

The Non-Professional

If you ring the bell and five minutes later someone who looks half-asleep staggers to the door tripping over pizza boxes and not so subtly spraying around some air freshener you may be dealing with The Non-Professional. Would his twenty year old girlfriend with a ukulele in one hand and a coffee house gig flier in the other be a better choice? At least she’s bubbly and wide awake! … Not so much…. Maybe a degreed professional with a proven track record and good references would make even more sense.

The Snooty Specialist

This highly credentialed person will try to convince you that whatever style of music they play is the best and you should also play it. You should learn it because the awesome skills you will acquire will eventually enable you to play the clearly inferior style of music that was your motivation for picking up the guitar in the first place. The Snooty Specialist doesn’t respect a student’s personal goals and choices in terms of artistic self-expression. He doesn’t encourage a student to explore the fundamentals of an instrument and then decide for himself which style to peruse. Don’t put up with The Snooty Specialist.

The Passionate Comedian

If, during the course of a 30 minute guitar lesson, 17 minutes are spent on telling edgy jokes, 5 minutes are spent watching the teacher grimace and play some really wicked licks, three minutes are spent collecting the payment and rescheduling the next lesson and only 5 minutes are used to impart quasi-useful information to you, the student, you’ve had an encounter with The Passionate Comedian. His approach is the opposite of “No pain no gain.” You’ll leave the lesson light of heart, light in the wallet and light on information. You’ll rave to your friends about how much fun it was, you’ll feel like a truly privileged insider. You’ll eventually realize that everyone else is getting good and you’re not. Patronize this guy’s gigs. He’s a great performer. Don’t waste your time and money on his lessons.

The Bitter Man

This crabby egotist is only teaching because a gig or a tour or something much more important than teaching fell through, or perhaps he never had any gigs in the first place so he’s had to resort to teaching you, just to survive. He hates teaching, it’s never been his calling and he’ll quit as soon as he’s able. It’s likely he has no interest in helping people get good. He doesn’t want you “stealing his licks.” Let’s face it; you’re just competition for the same gigs he’s scrambling to get for himself. The Bitter Man makes you feel small. Leave him to his own devices.

Well, now that you know what to avoid in a music teacher you might want to tune in next time for some serious tips on what to look for in a really good teacher.

By Tobias Hurwitz

Take guitar lessons in Towson, Maryland or over skype with Baltimore’s best guitar teacher, Tobias Hurwitz. Study with the guy who wrote the book on rock guitar! Experience Rock Star Jam rock music camp with Tobias Hurwitz!


  1. Chris Raniet says:

    This is hilarious! “The bitter man makes you feel small” -Super funny! I feel like I’ve met all these people before but thankfully never was taught by them. Yikes! Write more of these!


  2. Jon Fish says:

    Tobias as I said when I’m ready I will send you a check in advance for 4 lessons. I am waiting for a cd by Robert Gordon and Danny Gatton called the Humbler as I love Rockabilly and they had a huge mopct on me. If u want u could go on line and listen to it so u know where I intend to replicate in a style, with your input as well as mine. Let me know when we can book lessons after u have listened to most of this time prmiting. I need your mailing address to send u the check. Hope You and Terry are well.

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