Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately. I hope you find the emails and my thoughts useful…
Many greetings…from Melbourne, Australia
I’m a total raw beginner with the Guitar.
(I play the Ukulele, and as such I “feel” it might not be too difficult learning the Guitar…fingers crossed…haahhaa)
My personal preferences are fingerpicking melodies more than strumming.
As such, I look forward to learning from you.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Greatly appreciated.
It’s always nice to hear from folk who are new around these parts.
What’s interesting here and what brings me to a good point, is the ukulele.
Cathryn mentions she plays the ukulele, which is great.
They are good fun and a great “gateway” instrument for the guitar.
I have had multiple long-term students all start with the uke and then transition to the guitar.
Of course, it still took patience, but having played the uke first really helped them get set up for the guitar.
The ukulele helped teach them the core skills of chords, smoother chord changes, and strumming, which certainly helped them on guitar.
If you get a chance to have a bash on one or to get one (they are pretty inexpensive), it is worth it for the fun.
Obviously, nothing can beat guitar for awesomeness, so don’t ditch the guitar for the ukulele just yet.
After all, no one ever looked cool smashing a uke up on stage.
Anyway, onto Email #2
Hope this finds you well! A few things:
Firstly, just wanted to agree with you about brilliant players not necessarily making brilliant teachers.
As a beginner, I had a teacher (who was a student at the Conservatorium of Music), who asked me to “improvise something” at my second lesson!
I had no idea what was involved in improvising and didn’t know where to start. I now realise that as he’d taught me some scales at my first lesson (which I’d duly practised), he thought it was obvious that I could use them to improvise.
He evidently had no memory of what it was like to be a beginner.
I learnt nothing from him the whole 10 lessons – except that being a great player doesn’t make you a great teacher. Teaching (any subject) is an underestimated skill.
The worst thing was that he undermined my confidence and caused a big obstruction to my guitar journey at a time when I could have made great progress easily (in my late teens).
I didn’t get back to lessons for many years after that (and sadly even then I didn’t find someone who knew how to teach – long story).
Very happy to have finally found you, Dan!”
Thanks to Zoe for sharing this.
I get quite a few horror stories from many of you about former teachers.
I know these stories resonate with a number of you and I am sure Zoe’s does too.
Zoe has been a member of the Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy for a long time, but I didn’t know this about her past.
I always think there is a massive amount of arrogance with some teachers and a total lack of respect for the student.
I can imagine that was a horrible experience.
What complete and utter arrogance from the tutor and how on earth did he not read the situation and quickly change direction when he realised Zoe was not remotely comfortable improvising.
…And how the heck did he expect her to know how to improvise in her second lesson.
Some people are pretty awful teachers at best, but worse, I am sure some teachers get a kick out of being in charge and trying to put the student in their place, so to speak.
Either way, it is pretty awful making a student who pays them good money feel like that.
Anyway, it makes my blood boil hearing things like this but it’s important to share these stories, so it doesn’t happen to others.
I’m really pleased it didn’t put Zoe off long-term and she got back to it.
Zoe is a really good student, and thinks about things, applies what she learns, asks good questions, has great enthusiasm, and gets really into the material.
Just what I love in with my students.
If you have had bad experiences with lessons in the past, take inspiration from Zoe, and don’t let it put you off.
Now can be a fresh start for you too.
A good place to start is my Fingerstyle 101 book. It covers a lot of the basics, with precise lessons on technique, the most useful patterns, how to play beautiful music, and much more.
You can find out more below:
Have a good day.
P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.