I've Sat in Both Seats....


A little practice time...

     I like to think I'm both the teacher and the student: Not always one individual role, but, sometimes both.  When I'm teaching guitar lessons I'd estimate 98% of my role is the teacher conveying the grand knowledge that's been bestowed upon me (Okay, that's a little grandiose...you get the point!).  However, there's a smidge (2%ish?) that takes a childlike approach as the learner.  Regardless of the fictitious numbers I believe that becoming a better teacher involves ongoing learning.

THE TEACHER...
    
   When I first started teaching guitar, I put quite a bit of pressure on myself to be perfect (Which is probably a symptom of my past life as a Mental Health Counselor...long story).  Also, I was building a clientele and wanted a reputation as a top notch instructor. Fragile times, eh? Once I got over that pressure I could function much better/more relaxed.  I learned that being "perfect" was not a realistic goal for me: I want my students to be able to connect with me on a morehumanistic level...mistakes included.

     Recently, I read an interview with Derek Trucks in which he discussed music being something that shouldn't be about arrogance or knowledge of it being exclusive to any one group.  When it comes to teaching it should be about skill transfer as opposed to showing off what you know.  A good teacher can"show off" his skills in a manner that inspires...not intimidates.  I believe, as experienced musicians, that it's our job to share what we've learned.

Showtime!!!
THE STUDENT...

     To be a better instructor you must ALWAYS remember what it's like to be the student.  I remember how nervous I was when I picked up a guitar around someone with more skill (It still happens...a good thing to remember) and was taken to school.  However, it was good for me to experience this and remember what it feels like to be the student.  It's a reminder to be collaborative when reaching goals and promoting the student's strengths.  Also, put the lesson in perspective so the student can understand the objective (i.e., play examples @ the student's pace, teach interesting lessons and don't EVER be afraid of mistakes as they lead to learning).

     Over the last few years I've taken lessons from some top notch instructors including a top ten world class guitarist (as dubbed by Guitar Player Magazine) Dickey Betts's axeman and a Broadway guitarist.  Also, I spend quite a bit of time searching YouTube and other sources to learn. The motivation behind this?  It's simple...ongoing development of skills.  I advertise that I teach students ages 5 to 150 because I emphasize lifelong learning and to hold on to the curiosity that brought you to, not only guitar, but what you have a passion for.

KWS
Nearly front row watching Kenny Wayne Shepherd play the blues...

     I hope you enjoy my thoughts on the teacher and student.  I'm lucky to be both as I've met some exceptional students and instructors who I can also call friends.  Please visit me online at jimronan.com and on social media.  If you would like to comment please do so on this blog or click here.

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