How to Find a Guitar Teacher

The Importance of Studying with a Teacher

A beginning student requires a teacher more so than a musician at any other level. Beginners are likely to develop many bad habits studying without a teacher. Even a few months of lessons with a teacher will allow you to avoid developing some the most common bad habits.

A teacher can also evaluate your progress in ways that you can't evaluate yourself as a beginner. They will point out things that you are doing incorrectly that you don't notice.

Additionally, an experienced teacher can guide you through concepts that might be confusing. It is easy to misunderstand certain concepts when trying to learn them on your own using books or lessons on the internet.

What to Look for in a Teacher


As a beginner, it will take you a little while to get through the basics and reach a point where you can really delve into any one style, such as blues, jazz, or classical. However, it is still a good idea to try and find a teacher who teaches the style you want to learn. They can teach you the basics in a way that will make it easier for you to get into that particular style.

If you are unable to find a teacher for the specific style you want to learn, don't avoid a teacher who primarily teaches in a style that is different from what you want to learn. Some teachers may focus on one style, but have enough experience to teach any style up to a certain level. Having someone who understands the basic concepts of music is more important in some cases than finding a teacher who specializes in one style.

Teaching Approach

The way a teacher approaches teaching will affect how well you work with that instructor. Some teachers are very dogmatic and think that their way is the only way to learn. A teacher like this might work for you if their approach is compatible with your learning style, but it is generally better to find a teacher who adapts to each individual student and tries to find what works best with each one.

Any teacher you work with should give you a well-rounded musical education. You should learn things like reading, music theory, technique, care and maintenance of your instrument along with learning songs, licks, and riffs in your style of choice. You may not want to learn things like sight reading and music theory, but a good teacher will find a way to get you to learn these things and make it fun.

Structure in the lessons is essential to ensure progress. A good teacher will give you assignments that are reviewed at the next lesson before moving on to new material.


The personality of the teacher is important as well. Teachers shouldn't be so friendly that they are reluctant to critique your playing or talk to you if you aren't practicing, but they also shouldn't be so strict that you dread lessons. You need a teacher who is easy to work with and makes you feel at ease during lessons.

Who They Teach

Some teachers work better with certain age groups, while others will teach anyone regardless of age. If your child will be taking lessons, try to find someone who teaches kids. Teaching younger students requires a much different approach than teaching teenage or adult students, and not all teachers are good at it. On the other hand, these teachers may be great at teaching teenage and adult students. Adult students often pick up material more slowly than younger students, so a teacher may need to be more patient with adults.

Background and Credentials

The musical background of the teacher may be an important factor depending on your goals and interests. For example, if you intend to perform live, a teacher who has extensive performance experience will be better for you than one who has rarely performed.

A degree is also not that important. Some great teachers don't have a degree, while some people with degrees make poor teachers.


Finding a teacher near you will make it much easier to get to and from lessons. If you are unable to find a teacher locally, you may want to try making alternate arrangements with a teacher who lives further away. This might require taking a lesson only once per month, but having a longer lesson.

Where to Find a Teacher

Music Stores

Most music stores have teachers who give lessons in the store. If your local store doesn't do this, it is likely that they know who teaches in the area, and will be able to recommend someone.

Yellow Pages

Some teachers or music schools may have listings in the Yellow Pages. This will generally be listed under something like 'Music Instruction.'


Some teachers do advertise in the classifieds in the local paper. For larger cities, craigslist may have some listings for teachers in the area.

Ask Other Musicians

Most musicians know other musicians in the same location. Ask any musicians you know if they know anyone who teaches.

Ask Music Teachers at Colleges and Universities

Many college-level music teachers give private lessons on the side. They may also have students who give lessons.


Most churches have musicians who perform during services. Some of these musicians may also teach or know someone who does.

Use a Search Engine

If you are located in a large city, running a search like 'guitar teacher New York City' will probably give you a lot of options. This may work for less populated areas, but teachers in those areas tend to have websites less frequently than those in large cities.

Teacher Directories

There are several sites that list teachers by instrument and location. A few of these are listed below:


The cost of lessons will depend on where you live, the teacher, and the duration of the lesson. Lessons tend to be more expensive in big cities. Some teachers charge more than others because of their background. For example, a teacher with a doctorate in classical guitar performance is going to generally command a higher price due to the extensive experience compared to someone who is self-taught. Many teachers give the same length lesson to each student, but some teachers may vary the time depending on how advanced you are and your willingness to pay for a longer lesson. Lessons longer than a half hour are generally not much more beneficial to beginners.

Expect to pay at least $10-$15 per lesson for private lessons in the teacher's home or studio. Lessons at a music store or school will often be higher. Some teachers may charge more to cover the cut that they have to give to the music store. Keep in mind that paying more isn't necessarily going to get you a better teacher.

Most teachers will also require you to purchase books and other materials too, so keep this in mind when considering the total cost of lessons.

Schedule an Interview Before Starting Lessons

Many teachers will meet with potential students in person at no charge. This gives you and the teacher an opportunity to discuss various aspects of the lessons. This is a good time to discuss how a teacher approaches teaching, what her background is, and any other concerns you have. The answers to these questions can be a good indication of the type and quality of teacher. Below is a list of questions and information on how to gauge responses to these questions.

What will I learn if I study with you?

Good answer: We will discuss your goals and interests and I will plan lessons that revolve around your interests and help you reach your goals.

Bad answer: Any answer where a teacher lists what she will teach, but doesn't make any reference to your goals and interests.

How do you approach teaching?

Good answer: I tailor my teaching approach to each student as much as possible. The lessons are structured so that each lesson is a review of the material covered in the previous lesson. We move onto new material once the current material is learned to a satisfactory level. I also try to give each student a well-rounded education in music theory, reading, rhythm, and technique in a way that fits their interests.

Bad answer: Any answer where it is obvious that the teacher hasn't thought about how she teaches, such as, 'I have students bring recordings of music they want to learn and teach them songs.' Having students bring in recordings would be fine as long as that is being supplemented with theory, reading, technique, and other concepts. However, many guitar teachers do approach teaching by doing nothing more than teaching music from recordings their students bring in. There should be some kind of structure to the lessons and the lessons should cover a variety of material.

Will you teach me what I want to learn?

Good answer: My lessons include instruction on music basics along with things that suit your interests. I believe in giving every student a well-rounded musical education. The amount of time spent on things outside of your core area of interest is very small provided you devote some time to practicing these things on a daily basis. If you have put in the time on these concepts at home, we will usually spend very little lesson time on them. Most of the material I give for learning things like reading, rhythm, and music theory can be learned by practicing as little as five minutes per day. That leaves plenty of time to practice things in your area of interest.

Bad answer: Any answer where the teacher indicates that she will only teach you what you want to learn. This indicates that you probably aren't going to be working with a well-rounded teacher.

What styles do you play/teach?

Good answer: My primary focus is classical guitar, but I have experience playing and teaching in many different styles. I may not be able to take you as far as a teacher who specializes in a particular style, but I can give you a good start in most styles.

Bad answer: Any answer where the teacher claims to be able to teach everything or will only teach in a single style. These two extremes should be avoided. It is possible for teachers to teach almost any style, but they should be up front with you about how far they can take you since it is impossible for one person to play and teach every style well. Teaching in a single style isn't a bad thing if you actually want to learn that style, but you may find it frustrating studying with a jazz teacher if you only want to play rock.

What will you expect from me as a student?

Good answer: The most important thing is that you are making a reasonable effort. Consistent practice and attendance are required to continue studying with me. Every student progresses at a different rate, so progressing more slowly is fine as long as you are actually trying. We will set up a practice journal to track your progress. You will be expected to write down daily achievements in the journal to help you work towards your goals more efficiently. As a beginner, you should be practicing at least twenty to thirty minutes per day five or more days per week.

Bad answer: Any answer where the teacher indicates very low or very high expectations. The teacher should monitor your progress and expect you to make a reasonable effort, but shouldn't expect a beginner to practice five hours per day.

Quitting Lessons

Don't be afraid to quit lessons with your current teacher and find a new one if the lessons aren't going well. However, you should be sure that it is actually the teacher's fault. Some students want to blame the teacher when they aren't advancing quickly, yet the student is rarely practicing and misses half of the lessons.