Frequently Asked Questions

Q?
Why should I take lessons?
A.
Self-tutoring may seem a good option, and people with previous experience on another instrument can manage it to a certain extent, but there are many aspects of guitar technique that are not obvious to the beginner. Many who attempt to teach themselves acquire poor technique habits in the process. It is not uncommon for professional teachers to meet new students who have ‘self-taught’ for one or more years and who have, in fact, gained only a very small insight into the art of guitar technique, despite the time they have given to it. It is a good idea for you to factor the price of lessons (for at least a few months) into your start-up costs.
Q?
When should I commence lessons?
A.
Now!
Q?
How do I find a good teacher?
A.
Well if you reside in or close to Melbourne’s leafy eastern suburbs then you should ring us at Modern Guitar Tuition. If not then ask around friends, family, music teachers at school etc. A referral from a satisfied student can be a good clue. Check local media. Teachers who are seriously in business tend to advertise fairly regularly (but may not when they are at capacity). There will also be a local organization such as the Victorian Music Teachers Association, or an online directory that can help out.  Don’t be shy about asking a prospective teacher about their education background and experience level: if they are confident and professional you’ll get a convincing answer.
Q?
Am I too old to take lessons?
A.
This is a question that we get asked fairly often in phone enquiries by adults! Well just in case you are worried about it here’s a quick self-quiz for you: Are you over 90 years? Have you lost your fingers/marbles? Are you suffering from a debilitating illness? Have you lost all or most of your hearing? If you just answered ‘no’ to all these things then the answer to the original question is an emphatic NO. The good news is that many people successfully take up a musical instrument after Forty! You may not be able to learn to a high advanced level but can certainly develop a satisfying level of hobby playing. (There is good evidence that only people who have taken up a musical instrument before approximately age 16-18 will be able to develop a to high level of technical accomplishment. Almost all virtuoso players are people who started in childhood).  Many adults however take up a musical instrument in their middle years and find the experience very rewarding. Go on, give it a try!
Q?
Can I learn from the Internet?
A.
Yes you can learn some things via internet but, as already said above, you are unlikely to develop good technique; watching videos will not give you the insight of being with a good teacher who will show you techniques from different angles and will assess your efforts as you develop. Also, many students find that the songs they download are written in such a basic format that they don’t really ‘get’ how to play them. Internet is better for finding the lyrics; you need more information to get a credible version of the guitar part.
Q?
Will you give me a ‘free trial lesson’?
A.
No.
Q?
Why not?
A.
Because we are completely confident of what we are doing and, have a great routine with new students and, like most people, we don’t work for free!
Q?
Should I take lessons before I buy a guitar?
A.
Only if you feel unsure about what you should be look for, or if feel you’d like to try a lesson to see if the idea of learning the guitar really does appeal. Just one initial lesson should do; there’s not much point to having more than this before you have an instrument to practise on at home.
Q?
But I’m left-handed – can I still learn?
A.
Absolutely! We sometimes hear people who are left-handed say that they’ve been advised to learn the guitar right-handed. There is no good reason for this. The only issue to justify such advice is that left-hand guitars are more expensive than right-handers, and the choice of models is less. There are some wonderful leftie guitarists and bassists around the world: Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney spring to mind, just to name a couple. Just buy some left handed picks and you'll be fine....oh and a left handed guitar lead....
Q?
How many lessons a week will I need?
A.
Only one – most students have one private ½ hour lesson per week, at a fixed time (we can not easily change lesson times week by week). For beginner and hobby players we can easily check your progress and set new material within a ½ hour lesson. Advanced students, including VCE, need a 45-60 minute lesson per week. When close to assessment dates they may need an extra lesson for a few weeks.
Q?
Do you guys supply the guitar?
A.
No – you need to bring your own instrument; its important for a teacher to see your guitar to be sure of what you are doing on it, and of its condition. You don’t need to bring anything else though (except your music of course).
Q?
Can I hire a guitar from you?
A.
No – we are not in the business of selling or hiring instruments; we just concentrate on what we are good at – playing and teaching guitar.
Q?
Buying your first guitar: what should you look for?
A.
Children: For beginners age 7 to 11yrs a 3/4 size nylon-strung guitar is the best and most cost-effective instrument to buy. Reasonable guitars of this type are much cheaper than similar quality larger instruments. They are intended only for beginners and will suit most children up to 10 years, even to 12 years for smaller hands. They are equally suitable for learning modern plectrum-style of for classical-style finger-picking. A beginner of primary school age will struggle on a full-size acoustic guitar. Steel-string acoustic guitars are too hard to play for most young people under about 14 years. This is especially true of cheaper instruments (they can be quite difficult to play).
Q?
What about an electric guitar?
A.
These are not suitable for beginners under about 10 years due to the weight and especially to the long necks that electric guitars have: most children cannot comfortably reach the first position area of the fretboard on an electric guitar. Youngsters who have already learned for at least one year (preferably two) on a 3/4 instrument can adapt well to a small-bodied electric guitar at around 10 years of age. (There are some smaller bodied, short-scale electric guitars available to suit smaller players but they tend to have tuning problems). Teenage beginners from 12-13 years can comfortably commence lessons on an electric. If it is a second-hand instrument it is a good idea to have it checked by someone with guitar experience. Second-hand electric guitars are prone to problems, even if they look to have been cared for, and usually need a professional service to bring them up to standard.
Adult beginners:
Start on the type of instrument you feel suits your musical tastes but please take this note of caution: If unsure and just wanting initially to learn a general approach then opt for a reasonable beginner range acoustic instrument. A bit further down the track you will know more about the guitar and will be able to buy another instrument with confidence about what you need musically. If hand-size and/or strength are an issue then you are well advised to not use a steel-string acoustic; they require real hand strength to play well and cheap examples have been the cause of many a frustrated beginner student thinking that playing the guitar is ‘too hard’ for them (the guitar is not what is ‘too hard’ for them – it is their choice of instrument that is defeating them).
Electric guitars are comparatively easier to play and are a good choice of steel-string instrument if hand-size is an issue. The opposite problem arises for some men with large hands and fingers; electric guitars are frustrating for beginners with big hands. Whatever your choice of instrument, go to shop with a good range of models and try several different ones; Find a guitar that ‘fits’ you!
Q?
Can I learn Stairway To Heaven straight away?
A.
No.
Q?
Aaaaaw, why not?
A.
Because it will take you three months just to learn the intro, and a shaky version at that. Learn properly, be patient, and you will get to the songs you aspire to play all in good time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say.
Q?
Well what about Smoke On The Water?
A.
Only if you insist.
Q?
Can I still have lessons from Rob even if I don’t like cricket?
A.
Yes, but it would be prudent of you to keep that quiet!
Q?
Can I take lessons from Michelle even if I don’t like the Tigers?
A.
Well yes, but just don’t make any jokes about them finishing 9th !
Q?
Is there anything weird about Dave?
A.
Nope – absolutely nuthin’ – Dave is completely normal!