I bet your getting sick of my long posts huh? Well; heres another one I' afraid...
So I’ve just started University doing a course in Commercial Music; which I quite enjoy. That was until we were issued with our instrumental tutors; of which I have two, one for notation and acoustic techniques and the other for notation again but with electric techniques. The guy teaching me the electric techniques I get along with perfectly; hes patient and helpful, which is very encouraging for me as I find it hard to do things under pressure and on the spot (not that I don’t enjoy a challenge now and again) and I tend to find I play better when I’m given my own time to work in.
However; my acoustic teacher is a whole different kettle of fish, hes very old fashioned and opinionated. I get the impression from his attitude thats hes only concerned with doing things the traditional way and if you can’t do things the traditional way…well then in his opinion; you might as well not do them at all. Which drives me insane.
First lesson I had with him was a nightmare; he more or less criticised everything I had done up to that point and told me I was aspiring to nothing, whats worse is at the time I didn’t realise he was teaching me acoustic techniques and brought my electric along…I remember the look on his face when I pulled the guitar out; he was not amused. I then told him my music reading skills were limited to which he responded “Well; a musician who can’t read music is like an author who can’t read a book, theres no point in playing music if you can’t read it”. After swallowing that bitter pill he then said “Listen; I’m not here to give you the X Factor speech, you’ve got a lot to learn”. No shit; perhaps if you laid off slagging me off for just a second we could make a start hey? Plus what do you mean by “X Factor speech”? Are you implying I’m naïve? Because if you are then you should meet the musicians I’ve had to put up with in the past; they thought they could get a record deal just after a few gigs! Then on my way out I decided to say “Nice meeting you” merely out of politeness to which he retorted “Well you’re here to learn aren’t you?”. Damn right I am; perhaps you should of actually taught me something, I’m not paying for this course to have a guy to tell me how crap I am. So I left that lesson feeling very small and not very encouraged; whats worse is I didn’t feel like I could argue with him either because even though he went a bit too far, he had a point.
My second lesson was better; he was a little sarcastic but overall a lot more encouraging, he even helped point out that my acoustic needed a set-up which I was grateful for and he gave me a piece to learn, however this third lesson I had this morning just pissed me off again.
It started off well; aside from a few wrong notes, I had learned the piece he gave me pretty well but then he pointed out I was using the wrong fingering and that my fingers should be in the second position. Fair enough; but can you appreciate what I’ve already done please? Its not everyday that I guy can learn a piece of sheet music almost note for note on his first try. I felt like nothing impressed this guy. He also said I had to change my attitude to reading music and that I currently had a “This is too hard for me to learn!” mentality and that I needed to stop playing ‘power chord” dominant stuff on my electric as it was only suitable “If you want to start a thrash group”. What are you on about? I would love to be in a fucking thrash group! Then on my way out he was like “ Oh and Stephen; you don’t need to bring your acoustic next time, theres three other acoustics in the room which are set up, where do you live anyway? It must be a struggle bringing that guitar in every morning…” to which I replied “I live on campus accommodation; its less than a minute a way…”, “Even so; it might save you some trouble in the mornings…”. Erm; ok. I then said “Oh yeah and last lesson you said my guitar needed a set-up? I forgot the things you mentioned; could you write them down for me?” to which he took a disapproving look at the guitar and went “Yes…yes it really does…you don’t look after your guitars do you?” I nearly lost my cool then. Listen mate; I’ve spent most of my life in tiny dusty cottage in the country and now I’m in a even smaller and just as dusty flat, these guitars collects dusts as if they wanted to get dirty. Every time I clean them up it only takes a few minutes for them to get dusty again; I would put them back in their cases, but problem is I use them ALL on a regular basis since I’ve started University just to learn the stuff you've given me. Plus theres not a lot space; so SURELY there going to get knocked about a bit and receive some wear and tear?
Arrgh; hes does my head in!!! And whats worse of all is I feel like I can’t argue with his 40 years of experience especially since I found out he actually taught a majority of the staff at the University. Any advice?
Honestly man, just work through it. Guitar education is seemingly a lot different to more "traditional" instruments in that it's a lot more laid back. *Most* guitar teachers see everything as a set of guidelines instead of a set of rules. (Huge generalization here, I just don't have the time to type as much as the OP )
He clearly comes from a different sort of background and school of thought than most teachers you've had. For all we know, everything he's saying IS encouragement. He's got you by the balls so that you'll work harder to prove the guy wrong. In a couple years, you'll probably love and appreciate what he did for you.