Most students of the guitar are totally out of balance with the skills they have. Those of you who have read my other articles know that I am not a believer in studying all music related things, nor am I a believer in studying a billion different guitar playing styles and techniques.
As a musician and composer, I am committed to the process of mastering only the skills I need to reach my goals. As a guitar teacher, I am committed to helping my students master whatever things are needed to reach his/her goals. In almost every case, it is not important to learn everything about everything. It would be nice to do that, but there is simply not enough hours in the day (or years in a life) to master it all.
A significant percentage of my guitar students had already been playing/studying music for a while before studying with me, often having studied with more than one previous guitar teacher in the past. In almost every case these students possess some promising skills in a few areas and are severely lacking in other, very important, areas.
The problem is not that they are lacking in this area or that one, but that they are lacking in some areas that are often critical (or at least important) in achieving their own guitar playing goals. The worst part is they often don’t realize how much they are lacking in these areas, nor do they fully understand just how important it is for them to be strong in these same areas. It is, in my opinion, every guitar teacher’s responsibility to stress this issue to his/her students and to work with the student on a regular basis to bridge the gap and improve these weak spots.
For all you guitar players reading this, if you are already studying with a good guitar teacher, make sure he/she understands what your biggest musical goals are. If your guitar teacher is a good one, he/she should be working with you in your weak areas, and if your guitar teacher isn’t, can’t or won’t, find another teacher. (Download the FREE guide about How To Find And Choose A Guitar Teacher)
The one area that many students are usually strongest is actually technique and the weakest areas are usually aural skills, songwriting and improvisation. Songwriting may or may not be a part of your goals, but no matter what your goal is, improvisation is probably going to be an important tool that you will need for your goals and certainly aural skills will definitely be a critical part of virtually all goals.