Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Interviewing Parents

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Interviewing Parents

Article excerpt

Seven key questions to ask before you teach a child's first lesson.

When the phone rings and you find yourself talking to a parent of a prospective guitar student, do you know what to ask them? A few extra minutes spent on that first call can go a long way to ensure a good match between you and the new student, and in some cases, you may determine that you're not the right teacher for that child. The initial interview is your chance to communicate what you will do, how you will do it, and what you expect from the student and the parent.

Having taught guitar to scores of children for more than 15 years, I make sure to ask these questions right away:

1 How old is the child?

Age is important, because it affects hand size and strength, and maturity. I generally don't teach children under the age of seven.

2 Why does the child want to learn the guitar?

You need to know the child's motivation and what he or she hopes to get out of the instrument. Try to determine whether the decision to take lessons is coming from the child or the parents.

3 What does the child want to learn?

Each style of guitar music has its own nuances. For example, anyone who wishes to learn classical guitar will probably do best to find a teacher who is comfortable with the genre and its techniques. It's helpful for you to know what types of music the child and the parents listen to, as that is often what the child will want to play.

4 Does the child play any other instruments?

This information will give you crucial knowledge about the child's musical background, and perhaps some indication of the child's desire to learn and willingness to practice.

5 Does the child have a guitar, and if so, is it acoustic or electric?

Sometimes the choice of instrument has been made before a potential teacher has been contacted. A parent, grandparent, or older sibling may have a guitar that is available, and often someone well-meaning will go out and buy a guitar without realizing that it may be a poor match for the child. …

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