The complete guide to finding a guitar teacher
When finding the right person to teach guitar to you or your child, it can be hard to know where to start. But, if you want the best possible chances of finding a great teacher to teach your child, help you master your existing guitar technique, or help you with your newly chosen hobby, you’ve come to the right spot!
Encore musicians has the largest selection of teachers and musicians in the UK—we can confidently help you out with all the things you might need to know when choosing the perfect teacher for you, as well as link you up with them!
In this article, you’ll find all the info needed to start private guitar lessons: where you can take them, tips on finding the ideal teacher for you (or your child), and the main credentials to keep an eye out for.
Finding the right teacher can be completely transformational, so let us help find you the perfect match.
Much like a pair of shoes, where no one size fits all, guitar teachers are not all the same! Finding the right fit for your needs and skill level (not to mention style, guitar type, and learning aims) is key to making the experience as comfortable (or as positively challenging) as possible.
We believe that guitar lessons with the right person can make the difference between a transformational musical experience, and one you’d rather forget. So: let us help you find the perfect match!
Starting your search
Looking for teachers local to your home or workplace, or your child’s school, is absolutely key to achieving success. New hobbies or activities simply tend to stick better when the place they occur are local to you. And, as we all know, motivation can certainly slump after a few weeks if you’ve got to regularly take the tube across the city to get to your teacher!
Our guitar teachers will generally have a radius they are comfortable travelling within to teach their students. However, for some types of guitar teacher (like electric guitar), they will usually be better placed to teach students from their own home or studio, where their equipment is set up and ready to go.
If you are already skilled at guitar, or are looking to brush up on advanced techniques (e.g., for jazz/classical guitar), another option available could be video lessons (i.e., via Skype or Discord). Obviously, the useful thing about video lessons is that you can conduct them anywhere, so long as you have your own instrument on your end.
That said, we generally always advise that in person lessons are undertaken for the most part. With video lessons, you simply cannot build the same level of rapport with your teacher; closer observation of how your skills and guitar technique is coming along is also made far more difficult without that in-person interaction. Small, incremental improvements—which form the basis of any great guitarist’s technique—can be built on over time in a much easier fashion with in-person lessons.
Learning online vs. in person
Because technology today is so fast and connected, and the resources have available have grown exponentially, learning guitar can be done by using online resources, like videos and written tutorials, quite effectively. However, while this can provide a good introduction to guitar technique and offer an overview of methods to learn the instrument, it is very difficult to get a rounded, deep knowledge of your instrument by these means. Also, motivation and research can often be directed onto the wrong things (like speed), where a personal touch with a skilled teacher who will focus on quality is what is needed to take your playing to the next level.
Immediate feedback on your playing is extremely important when learning guitar, and one to one time with a teacher is key to that. Having a teacher present means that concepts (like tone, voicings, or picking patterns) can be explained in a variety of ways; playing methods and fingerings can be demonstrated and tailored to your pace; any blockages to correct technique can be pinpointed and fixed. Overall, the journey of learning guitar will be far more organic—flexible and bespoke to you or your child’s preferred learning style.
While we will likely have lots of different guitar teachers near you, if they aren’t available to do lessons at the time you are after, then that isn’t good for either of you!
The most common times for lessons is in the early evening, as this fits after their student’s school days, and after work. However, if you are available during the day, that can make fitting into your teacher’s schedule far easier. Also, some teachers may be available to teach at your child’s school, making lessons during lunch or before school a perfect option!
Being transparent about your availability and thoughts on the frequency of your lessons is key to finding a time that works best for yourself and your teacher. Getting this organised up front will save disappointment if your diaries don’t line up later on (especially if you’ve found the perfect guitar teacher for you)!
Luckily, guitar is an easily portable instrument (unlike those pesky pianos), so discussing the facilities/equipment you’ll need access to with your guitar teacher shouldn’t be too complex. If your teacher is teaching you or your child from their home, you may wish to make use of their amplifier (for electric guitar lessons) or guitar (if they have spares and it’s difficult to transport for you). If you’re thinking of having lessons in your own home, you’ll just need your own guitar (and amplifier if you’re learning electric guitar).
Another consideration is that between lessons, you will want to play the guitar in order that your lessons are productive and you make good progress between sessions. So it’s worth investing in an instrument, or find a space nearby where you’ll be able to practice on an instrument.
If you’re borrowing your teacher’s spare guitar, it would certainly be worth considering upgrading to a medium to high quality guitar as you progress in your lessons. Investing in solid equipment will make learning the guitar even more enjoyable, and will stop you from hitting any roadblocks imposed by faulty or low quality products.
If you’re learning electric guitar, your teacher may also be able to provide you with a good amplifier (and even pedal FX) to learn on if you’re just starting out. However, in time you’ll want to get a good quality amplifier (and FX) for yourself—this way you’ll get the most out of your own practice sessions, and feel more comfortable with the musical accessories that really make the electric guitar sing!
In 2019, we surveyed over 500 musicians to make sure that the prices we offer for teachers is both fair and competitive. Through this extensive survey, we learned that teachers in the UK are paid a little bit more than £30 per hour for most lessons. Some instruments do cost a bit more generally though, like the harp.
- Years of experience teaching
- Credentials of the teacher
- Location of the teacher
In our research, we found that the students who stayed with their teachers the longest, tended to be with teachers who had above average prices. So it’s often worth a few extra pennies to get a fantastic teacher you’ll be with for a long time.
Our research uncovered an intriguing statistic: students who remained taking lessons with their teachers the longest tended to pay above average prices. What does this tell us then? Well, that good teachers are worth paying a little extra for!
If you want to make sure you’re getting the best teacher possible, you’ll want to look into their credentials (as this will give you a good indicator of their expertise in teaching). Read on to learn a bit more about how this works.
Most teachers in the UK have studied music for a long time, and will be very familiar with their instrument. There are lots of paths to becoming a guitar teacher, but many will have undertaken training or a music degree to build on their skills, knowledge, and technique. On the other hand, it is worth noting that formal training is not always an essential part of what makes a great music teacher, but it does give a good indication of the breadth of their knowledge in their chosen field.
In the UK, typically formal qualifications begin with graded exams going from grade 1–8, and the examination boards are normally ABRSM or Trinity College London. In fact, you may wish to take these exams yourself as you delve into learning the guitar. They provide a good litmus test of the skills you’re learning, allow you to consolidate your technique and reach a higher level with it, as well as provide a good musical challenge that will bolster your confidence as you progress with your lessons!
Following these introductory grades, musicians often take up a performance diploma or university/college music degree.
Trinity College performance diplomas include:
ATCL (associate): equivalent to one year of an undergraduate degree
LTCL (licentiate): equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate degree
FTCL (fellowship): equivalent to a postgraduate course or conservatoire degree
- Music college / conservatoire
- University (BMus or similar)
Because the guitar crosses into so many different genres and styles, you will want to pick a teacher that best suits your particular goals. Whether that means classical guitar, pop-style guitar, or jazz guitar, you can bet we will have a teacher suited to you or your child.
Again, you will want to base your search for a teacher (and their credentials) on what sort of music you are looking to improve at; a jazz guitar teacher, while they may be able to play classical guitar, may not be the best choice if you’re looking to play pieces like Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez or Classical Gas. In this case, a specialist will always provide a more extensive approach to the style you’re looking to play than someone who isn’t as well-versed. And the same goes for learning pop guitar—you may not be looking for someone with extensive conservatoire experience in this case, but rather someone who has played in bands, or works as a sessions musician for pop artists (and also teaches).
If you’d particularly like to understand music theory as you progress, then look out for somebody who has taken grade 8 music theory qualifications or who has an equivalent degree. Also, if this a focus of yours, it’s best to be up-front about it, and your teacher can organise their lessons to cover both your performance and theory goals.
Lastly, if you are completely new to guitar, then you’ll want an experienced teacher—experienced teachers will be best placed to pinpoint any blockers to your progress, and get you up-and-running on the guitar in the quickest amount of time. They are also generally the most patient of teachers (having had so many pupils before), so there won’t be so much pressure to get it all right immediately (though practice does make perfect)!
There is no better way to understand someone’s teaching style at a glance than flicking through other student’s reviews. They are best placed to speak about how they felt lessons with their teachers went, and provide an insight into what future students can expect. On Encore, these verified reviews are but a click away—you can get a sense of your future teacher through other student’s experience, helping to paint a picture of whether a teacher might be suited to your personality and learning goals.
At Encore, our first priority is the safety and security of our users. We’ve implemented measures to make sure your teacher is both professional, and safe for you to meet and have lessons with. Before allowing teachers to join, we check that their testimonials are verified, double-check their credentials, and speak with each teacher before allowing them to give lessons through our site. Most importantly, on Encore you can see which teachers are DBS checked up-front in order to give you complete peace of mind when choosing a guitar teacher for your child.
Simply put, the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check is an independent safeguarding certificate which ensures that unsuitable people aren’t working with vulnerable groups, like children.
Choosing the right teacher
When choosing the perfect guitar teacher for you, there are a few things to think about first! We’ve pinpointed some of the main considerations you can use to guide your choice when finding a guitar teacher suited to you:
Most people tend to enjoy learning from someone of a similar age—this is particularly true of adults, where you’re looking to emulate the particular stylistic skill and technique of your teacher when first starting out. Learning from someone who is a different age to you is of course completely fine, but our survey of over 500 teachers in the UK revealed that many teachers find teaching pupils of a similar age makes for a more comfortable learning environment.
If you’re looking for a guitar teacher for your child, the teacher’s experience of teaching young people should your number one consideration. If they have taught children for a while, they will have picked up the particular skills to get the most of your child’s lessons, and will be able to adapt their teaching according to your child’s particular learning style.
Each guitar teacher will have reached a certain level in their skills, professional experience, and formal training. Finding a teacher that suits your personal ambitions is key. If you’re looking to learn pop classics and basic chords to play and sing with friends, then a teacher with practical pop experience (perhaps they play in a cover band, or work as a session musician) would be well-suited. But if you’re looking to brush up on an already advanced skill-set in classical or jazz guitar, then you’ll likely want a conservatoire-trained teacher to take your playing to the next level. You get the idea: make sure your choice of teacher is based on the level you want to get to with your guitar playing!
This one is particularly important. Guitarists often specialise in one or two styles, whether that’s classical, jazz, pop, Spanish, folk, or even funk, blues, heavy metal, or rock. So, the first step is to figure out what kind of style you’d like to progress your playing in—once you’ve done that, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the type of teacher that’ll help you reach your goals with your guitar playing.
For instance, you might want to learn classical guitar, while also touching on the basics of jazz. Many teachers will be able to provide this wider range of learning, but it’s best to mine your teachers deep knowledge of their chosen style to get the most out of your lessons.
As a guide, most pop-style guitar teachers will be able to teach you the styles that are often incorporated into pop: soul, funk, rock, country, and blues are all good examples. A classical guitar tutor will likely stick to traditional repertoire, but they also often have connections to Spanish-style guitar, and the technique of finger-picking. With jazz teachers, they can often cover a lot of ground when it comes to traditional jazz, jazz standards, bop-era jazz, or even Brazilian jazz. They will likely focus your lessons on improvisation and improving your knowledge of jazz guitar chord shapes, voicings, and theory. Folk guitar teachers will usually specialise in one or two geographically-based folk styles. This could be anything from Irish Celtic folk, to flamenco and tango, to polka and Volksmusic.
When choosing a guitar teacher for your child, the teachers best suited for that (i.e., teachers with extensive experience teaching young people) will usually be able to cater their lessons to the type of music your child is seeking to learn. Whether that’s Ed Sheeran (pop), John Mayer (pop-jazz), or John Williams (classical), they’ll be able to provide the material and lessons to get them playing their favourite music.
Finally, when choosing a teacher, your personal goals should always be guiding you. Do you want to play in a covers band? Do you want to improvise fluently in a jazz session? Do you want to perform solo classical music for an exam or recital? Do you simply want to play guitar for group jams with your friends?
Whatever your reason for taking up guitar lessons with a teacher, make sure to be upfront about your goals when first starting out. Your prospective teacher will be the person best placed to let you know how they can help you reach them through your lessons!
Arranging your first lesson
The easiest way to find a fantastic guitar teacher near you is to enquiry with us at Encore Musicians. We have the biggest supply of musicians across the country and we are musicians ourselves, so we’re best placed to find a well suited teacher perfectly matched to your needs.