There are distinct differences in skill set between someone who plays guitar and someone who teaches guitar. The important thing to understand about teaching versus playing guitar is that they require entirely different training, knowledge and skills. To an average person, the line between a guitarist and a guitar teacher can be blurry. There are a few things that separate an incredible guitar player from an incredible guitar teacher. A guitarist who recognizes that everyone learns differently and also has a lot of patience with his students will be more effective as a guitar instructor than a run-of-the-mill guitarist who is trying to teach his friend how to play the new Fender Stratocaster he got for Christmas.
The fact that one can only control their own actions and not those around him seems to be a simple concept, but many people find it hard to let go of the desire for complete control. A vital trait in any effective guitar instructor is patience and knowing he can’t control anyone except himself. Most guitar players will try to teach guitar and become frustrated with someone who does not automatically understand. If a guitarist has not had experience teaching, it would be easy for him to throw up his hands and say, “I don’t know why you can’t get this! It’s easy!” A guitar teacher will rephrase and change the way he is teaching as many times as he needs to in order to allow the student to understand what he is trying to explain. A good teacher will not try to control the situation; they will be patient and understanding
A guitar teacher must be able and willing to take the time to understand how each of his students learn and then adapt to their individual style. Changing the way that you teach to fit to a student’s learning process takes a lot of dedication; however, everyone who puts in the time and the study is capable of learning how to teach. Seek out a guitar teacher rather than asking a friend. Be sure your guitar instructor is flexible enough to know how to adapt to your unique learning style and to cater to your needs and goals on guitar. A guitar teacher works with the student and accommodates his needs, not vice versa. It is all about YOU in your guitar and music lessons.
A guitar teacher must have the ear and enough technical facility on the instrument to be able to play what he is teaching without having to spend too much time figuring it out. Not all guitar players have that skill. However, this does not necessarily mean he has to be a world-class guitarist who can play every style. For example, let’s say you bring in a Jimi Hendrix song you would like to learn. A guitar player who has a passion for teaching and is familiar or trained to some degree in music pedagogy and/or psychology (maybe even including some knowledge of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)) will (if of course he has the ear and the chops) be able to help you learn Jimi’s music even if he never played it all that much before. It takes a great deal of time to learn how people learn, and a great deal of experience to use that knowledge to your student’s advantage. Very few guitar players have the drive, passion, or time to want to delve into “the art of teaching”.
There is of course also the teaching “intuition” factor, which cannot really be thought. Let’s face it: some people are more at peace, at ease, more present, more aware, more in the moment, more right brain balanced, more attuned to the energy of others, more thoughtful, more intuitive, more focused, and more observing than others. This cannot really be thought (or so everybody believes), but I do strongly believe that those skills can be acquired and trained. The more a teacher nurtures those skills, the easier it is for him to get into a student’s head and guide that student on his musical journey. Those skills of course also grow over time as teaching experience develops.
Any teacher with minimum experience knows that he must work with the student to gain their confidence and trust in order for them to open up to learning from him. An efficient guitar instructor will use different teaching techniques and exercises, which guitar players who don’t teach, don’t know about. Being able to cater to a student’s individual needs is a skill that not many people have, let alone someone who is not trained to be an instructor. As a result: learning from a friend who plays guitar and who tries to teach you, is a waste of your talent and will ultimately cause frustration, which you would not have to deal with under the guidance of a professional guitar teacher. Not every guitarist has the skills or knowledge to do a good job at teaching the instrument, by the same token: you don’t have to be a ridiculous guitarist with unbelievably chops to be an excellent, successful guitar instructor.
The lesson learned: “Those who can’t do, teach!”, is a statement only an uneducated mind would utter, because more often than not: “Those who can… can’t teach it!