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What's In A Lesson?

tandrink 11 Mar 02 - 02:19 PM
Amos 11 Mar 02 - 02:24 PM
Justa Picker 11 Mar 02 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Lynn Koch 11 Mar 02 - 02:37 PM
dwditty 11 Mar 02 - 02:56 PM
tandrink 11 Mar 02 - 03:11 PM
Rick Fielding 11 Mar 02 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,newcomer to guitar 11 Mar 02 - 06:18 PM
Tinker 11 Mar 02 - 10:34 PM
M.Ted 12 Mar 02 - 01:36 PM
Grab 12 Mar 02 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Lynn Koch 12 Mar 02 - 03:13 PM
C-flat 12 Mar 02 - 03:39 PM
SharonA 12 Mar 02 - 05:57 PM
KingBrilliant 13 Mar 02 - 07:40 AM
tandrink 13 Mar 02 - 10:50 AM
KingBrilliant 13 Mar 02 - 11:01 AM
Justa Picker 13 Mar 02 - 11:06 AM
Jeri 13 Mar 02 - 12:07 PM
SharonA 13 Mar 02 - 03:18 PM
tandrink 13 Mar 02 - 03:42 PM
M.Ted 14 Mar 02 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,Lynn Koch 14 Mar 02 - 10:14 PM
53 14 Mar 02 - 11:19 PM
tandrink 15 Mar 02 - 10:16 AM
SharonA 15 Mar 02 - 10:23 AM
tandrink 22 Mar 02 - 02:27 PM
Don Firth 22 Mar 02 - 02:41 PM
Alice 22 Mar 02 - 02:45 PM
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Subject: What's In A Lesson?
From: tandrink
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 02:19 PM

I've posted this on another guitar bulletin board, so my apologies if you've seen this, but I thought the group here may be able to help me out.

I've been playing for about 5 years, more seriously in the last year, and decided about 6 weeks ago to take lessons. I'm working on fingerstyle blues and after some searching, found a teacher who gives lessons in this style.

Our lessons are a half hour long. Basically, my teacher gives me a tab sheet which I work on for the week. At the lesson, I play the piece, he maybe makes a couple of comments. He gives me a new tab sheet which he has me play (usually I do terribly, because it's my first time seeing it). Then he'll play the piece (or part of the piece) so I can hear what it should sound like. Then we talk about guitar or players for the last five minutes...and that's my lesson for the week.

My question is, is this what a lesson should be like? I feel like, with the exeption of listening to my instructor play the pieces, I might not be getting more out of my instructor than I would out of a tab book. The lessons are making me practice more in order to get ready for the next week, but I don't feel like he is showing me that much. We never even both hold a guitar at the same time. I play, hand him my guitar, and then he plays. He sits across from me behind a desk.

Does anyone else have experience taking lessons? Is this a typical format? Should I be specifically asking for something more? Should I drop it all together?

He's the only guy in the area, that I can find, who teaches this style. Can anyone offer advice? Thanks in advance for your replies.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Amos
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 02:24 PM

Well, it ain't the kind I give or like to get, for my own part. There is no fixed format, but the real question is whether you're learning much?

A


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 02:28 PM

1/2 and hour isn't enough for fingerpicking. An hour at least...and more hands-on instruction. None of this sitting behind a desk b.s.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: GUEST,Lynn Koch
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 02:37 PM

Tandrink - I've given lessons for more years than I'd like to admit. Sounds to me like you're giving the guy money to give you tab sheets.

I work from standard notation, but also work with my students on learning by ear and by imitation - what one might call an 'oral tradition' method. Typically, I'll have my students play what we worked on the previous week. We isolate trouble spots, and I show them specific techniques to help them through the trouble. By practicing just the part of the passage they have trouble with, they're not spending gobs of time playing through stuff they can already do. That usually takes up about 20 minutes or so. Then we work through the next week's lesson, taking special note of sections that might be troublesome when practicing. While it's based mostly on reading, I will also ask my students to LISTEN to me play a section (never the whole thing) and WATCH my hands, especially if there's a move up or down the neck.

Music instruction should be a balance of learning from notes, learning by ear (especially important for folkies), and music theory. I'd suggest finding a new teacher. Might you be in the Central New York region???

Lynn


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: dwditty
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 02:56 PM

When I took lessons my teacher was more than willing to accomodate my desires. Two techniques I used:

1. I took a tape recorder and she recorded specific portions of the lesson so that I could refer to them during the week. There is nothing worse than sitting down to practice only to realize the whole point of the last lesson has been "lost."

2. I purchased a couple of taped lessons (one audio, one video, in my case) that included tab. It halp a lot to have my teacher go over the tab with me as I struggled along with the tapes. Check out Home Spun (www.homespuntapes.com) and Stefan Grossman (www.guitarvideos.com).

I learned a lot this way, and I she even started taping in her lessons for all her students. SHe bought a tapre recorder, students brought their own tapes. Many lessons fit on one tape.

Bottom line: if you are not happy with what you are getting, change it or change teachers.

dw



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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: tandrink
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 03:11 PM

thanks for the quick responses, folks. You've confirmed what I've already suspected.

Now, any tips on finding a teacher in New York City that teaches Delta Blues? If anyone knows of anybody, I'd really appreciate the suggestion.

Lynn, I went to college in Central New York (Syracuse University), but moved back to NYC when I graduated. Couldn't take the cold weather and lack of sun. But if you have any colleagues in this neck of the woods, I'd appreciate the recommendation.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 03:31 PM

Do you come away from your lesson feeling special?

Do you feel that your teacher CARES whether you learn?

Has your teacher learned what THEY know from tab.?

I can't TELL you how much I dislike the "assembly line" approach to helping someone become a musician. I was given those kind of lessons when I was a kid and naturally lost interest....although the fellow who professed to be a teacher sure packed a lot of kids into a Saturday. Music is SOUL, you've gotta find a teacher with soul. It may take a while but it will be worth it.

Rick


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: GUEST,newcomer to guitar
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 06:18 PM

I've been having lessons since last autumn, & have learned a lot in that time. Mostly through my own efforts. I explained at the beginning I was aiming to support playing folk songs, in general conversation I found he gives ALL his students the same 2/3 songs to work on - whatever their objectives are.

He DID show me the correct thumb position - it was way off originally. He taught me 1 finger-picking pattern, which got me started, I've figured out other (more useful) patterns myself by listening/ playing.

But does he make me feel confident - absolutely not, my heart sinks at the thought of the work he sets out, adding complications on top of techniques not yet grasped.

However, the last lesson I had (in january!) - I refused to work on the original song & asked him prepared questions about music theory - which turned into a very useful session.

I have 2 lessons already paid for not yet taken, I shall identify my own agenda to make sure I get something from the session, but not book more - though I know have PLENTY more to learn.

He is a nice bloke & an excellent player, I teach adults constantly as part of my job - so I'm tempted to try to give him feedback. I dunno.

Good thread.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Tinker
Date: 11 Mar 02 - 10:34 PM

Wow, guess I lucked out.... After Getaway I decided to take some lessons. The Video and Audio CD's were just way too fast for me. I asked my son's instructor for a recommendation (they were doing electric rock and I wanted country blues). He looked at Grossman's Country Blues book and said Let's try it, Looks like fun.

He tapes them for me really, really slow and then just a bit faster.... still slower than the video lesson which is the next step.

We always play together, even when I don't feel ready and it's always okay and points out where the rhythm and I are parting ways

When I decided to switch gears and wanted to work on a piece of Rick Fielding....he's willing to work off the CD with me

I always leave feeling we've cleaned up a problem or two and feeling good...

My teacher is Flamingo trained so he works off the music not the TAB and isn't afraid to tell me an arrangement was designed just to teach and isn't very good music...Probably the best sign, I'm disappointed if I have to miss a week.

Tinker


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 01:36 PM

At the end of a lesson, you should have a clear sense of what you have accomplished (which should feel good), and a clear sense of what you need to work on next--if this isn't happening, then you should start asking questions--more than that, I won't say, because it is hard to second guess what happens in someone else's lessons--

There are a couple of things to consider, though, and the first is that no one without a passion for teaching will ever teach much of anything, no matter how good a player they seem to be. The second is that no one without a passion to learn will ever learn much of anything, no matter how good a teacher they have--


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Grab
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 02:19 PM

I've found from having singing lessons that it's best to work out what you need the teacher for. If you've got the basics down, what's left is refining the technique. So it's not just "can you play that tab", it's "what did I tell you about keeping that wrist out". The tunes are just means to the end of getting better technique, not an end in themselves - anyone can play a tune out of a tab book given sufficient time to practise and sufficiently good technique, so there's no point learning tunes which don't exercise your technique. As an adult taking lessons, you have a responsibility to yourself to direct your teacher to teach you what _you_ want to learn, not what _he_ wants to teach you. And after 5 years, you should have an idea of what's holding you back.

Paying for time taken up just chatting is unprofessional. Make sure he does keep teaching you all the way through.

Tinker, a top tip for learning stuff by ear: rip it onto your PC, then put it through your favourite sound-editting package. Produce versions of it at 3/4 speed, half speed and third speed (plus maybe quarter speed too for fast or tricky stuff). Then blow all of them (including the original) onto a CDROM and you've got an instant reference for learning from, whatever speed you can play it at.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: GUEST,Lynn Koch
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 03:13 PM

"No one without a passion to learn will ever learn much of anything, no matter how good a teacher they have-- "

M Ted - That's precisely what makes public school teaching so blasted hard in the states.

Lynn


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: C-flat
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 03:39 PM

I Hope you manage to find another teacher! Your guy is clearly not right for you. Tab is a great way to access new music quickly but in my experience playing along with others (qualified or not) is both faster and more enjoyable. Find other people to sit around and trade techniques with and use the tab at home to learn new stuff. Bye the way, Tinker says he has a teacher who is "Flamingo" trained....just be grateful YOUR'E not having to learn while standing on one leg!! Keep going..it's worth it in the end.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: SharonA
Date: 12 Mar 02 - 05:57 PM

This guy doesn't even bring his own guitar to the lesson, for you to play along with him??? DITCH HIM!!!!!! (If you have a really nice guitar, maybe this is his excuse to play it for a little while... at your expense!!)


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 07:40 AM

It doesn't sound right Tandrink. The simple equation is whether you are getting enough value (ie the tab practice it is forcing you to find time for) as against the financial cost.
It sounds as though it might be a worthwhile short term thing to kick-start you, after which you'll be better off on your own with a good book, a few CDs and some live music to join in with if poss.
You need to be able to trust your teacher that what they are giving you to learn is appropriate to you - that seems not to be the case if he gives everyone the same tabs.
Look around for something better.
Give him feedback if you feel he's worth it, but not if it'll just cause aggravation for you.
I hope he's not charging you much.....

KRis


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: tandrink
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 10:50 AM

Had another lesson last night. Just so you don't think I'm bitching for no reason, here's what happened.

Got to the teacher's studio at 6:30. Took off my coat, unpacked my guitar. My teacher was on his lap top, finishing up some banjo tab that he was working on, so I warmed up. Launced into "Kindhearted Woman" (a Robert Johnson song, for those of you who are not familiar with blues) which is what I've been studying for the week. I did a pretty good job. The teacher correct one pull off that I was doing incorrectly. The teacher asked what I wanted to to this week. I told him I wanted to get into some juicy blues. He pulls out a tab of "Sporting Life Blues" by Brownie Mghee. He (the teacher) has some sort of splinter in his thumb, so he plays the song for me through the computers MIDI. I give the song a shot and it is TOUGH! Two and three chord changes per measure, with chords I don't already know. I am struggling really badly as this is the most difficult piece I have ever attempted. I'm at about the 10th measure, I have absolutely no flow going, and his phone rings. HE TAKES A CALL FROM HIS ATTORNEY. I still struggle while he's on the phone. I give up after about the 18th measure. I tell the teacher the obvious -- this piece is really difficult. He says he thinks I'll be able to pull it off (I have been learning things rather quickly, but the pieces were easier and I'd bust my ass practicing all week). The teacher tells me about how he saw Brownie MGhee and Sonny Terry at the GasLight when he was a teenager and how they used to fight all the time. It's 6:58, I pack up my guitar, pay the man and leave.

Am I crazy, or is this BS. By some strange twist of fate, however, out of the blue yesterday I met someone who's friend teaches the exact style of guitar I want to learn. I thought I'd give my teacher another shot, but after last night, I think I'm gonna give this new guy a call. Am I doing the right thing?


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 11:01 AM

Yes - go try the other guy. Don't pour any more money into someone who takes a call during the lesson - that's bad manners - and even if he absolutely had to take the call he should have extended the lesson to compensate.
I'm not sure a half hour slot is long enough for a lesson - will the other guy give you a little longer?
Kris


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 11:06 AM

Tandrink,
If this is what your teaching is doing for you, you'd be better off to purchase some instructional videos from either Stefan Grossman or Happy Traum. They include tabs for all songs on video and the video instruction is excellent. There is music in every conceivable fingerstyle genre available.

I started out of tabs and these types of videos. They were great up to a point (although I do come back to them every now and then to steal licks, rather than learning entire pieces.)

I went to a live, hands-on teach precisely to get away from tabs and learn things I could then apply immediately. I learned more in a few weeks with this teacher than in a year of reading tabs.

My advice? Find another teacher with a much more hands-on approach, or, instead of giving your money to this person, save your money and instead invest in some good videos. Either way you'll be further ahead than you are now with this person. Best of luck.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Jeri
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 12:07 PM

A good teacher, in my opinion:

--Teaches you the skills and knowledge you need to play what you want to play. It's even better if one of those skills is learning how to figure out what you need in the first place. The best skill to learn is how to hear. If you can do that, you can figure anything out. (At which time the teacher may become unnecessary, but what the heck.)

--Leaves you feeling inspired. You leave with a challenge, not a boring or seemingly insurmountable task.

--Makes you feel like you can learn. Personally, I can feel I'm stupid enough without paying someone to help.

--Makes you do things you find difficult, but makes you want to do them and believe you can.

You sound like you have a teacher who's just teaching you songs, not so much technique, and doesn't care much about the music or you.

Go with your gut.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: SharonA
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 03:18 PM

Had it been me taking that "lesson", I would have deducted from my payment the time he spent on the phone with his attorney AND the time he spent working on his banjo tab AND the time he spent chit-chatting about people he met when he was a teenager. I think I also would've deducted the time he spent listening to that midi along with you (he could've given you the web address and you could've listened to it on your own time; he wasn't demonstrating anything for you or teaching you anything).

I wouldn't waste another penny on this guy, if I were you.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: tandrink
Date: 13 Mar 02 - 03:42 PM

I've made two calls to new teachers today. One that was recommended by the person I mentioned in my previous post, the other was recommended by a local guitar shop. Hopefully one of them will work out. But I am feeling better about the situation just by calling them. Hopefully I'll hear back and they will provide me with the real teaching I'm looking for.

Thanks to everyone for helping me feel like I'm not crazy for being suspicious that these lessons aren't right for me. I know there's two sides to every story, but believe me there is nothing I could have wanted more than to report to you all that I have found a great local teacher and not some guy who is running a "lesson factory" and ripping me off. After sticking it out for two months without it getting better, I think its time to move on.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Mar 02 - 09:10 AM

After the lesson you described, I think you'd be crazy to go back--you are obviously committed to learn, and he owed it to you to be at least as committed to teach--don't look back, unless you feel a need to tell him why you left--


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: GUEST,Lynn Koch
Date: 14 Mar 02 - 10:14 PM

Go for one of the other guys, tandrink. What your current teacher is doing is unbelievable...not only is he ripping you off but he's being highly unprofessional.

Good luck, guy.

Lynn


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: 53
Date: 14 Mar 02 - 11:19 PM

Helping the student to learn the piece that he is working on, not doing everything else on your dime. Teachers should spend quality time with their students. Sometimes I think that videos are better, cause at least you know what you are working on is correct.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: tandrink
Date: 15 Mar 02 - 10:16 AM

I dropped the old teacher. Just told him things weren't working out.

I spoke on the phone with a new teacher at length yesterday. His teaching seems to be much better suited towards my goal: actually learning about blues guitar rather than just struggling through and building up repetoire. The fact that he told me to bring a notebook and cassette tape to my lessons is also encouraging.

I'll let you all know how it goes next week.


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: SharonA
Date: 15 Mar 02 - 10:23 AM

That does sound encouraging, tandrink. That's a good tip for anyone considering lessons: to talk with the prospective teacher beforehand and discuss that teacher's methods and the student's goals.

Well, if I ever take guitar lessons in NYC (not likely, but y'never know...), I'll be sure to ask you first which teacher I should not consider!!! *G*


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: tandrink
Date: 22 Mar 02 - 02:27 PM

Just wanted to let you all know that I had my first lesson with the new instructor this week. Much better experience. We talked more about moveable chord forms and how to translate things in certain keys. We both were holding guitars and actually showed me what it was he was playing. He wrote out all the stuff we did so I could work on it as well as recorded what it should sound like. He went 15 minutes over time and seemed almost as enthusiastic as I was to be working together.

Now the only problem is, he's so popular he's having a hard time fitting me into his teaching schedule....


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 Mar 02 - 02:41 PM

Sounds like you've found a winner. The tightness of his schedule is a good indication of his quality as a teacher. Good luck!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What's In A Lesson?
From: Alice
Date: 22 Mar 02 - 02:45 PM

Great to hear, Tandrink. I'm glad you found a new teacher. That other one was truly stealing your time and money - sheesh.


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