Find a music teacher who isn’t just casing your house

music teacher 2Are you ready to pull that ukulele out of the closet and learn some chords? Is Junior bugging you for a guitar? I’ve taught music privately and in classrooms since 2000. If you want guitar, mandolin or ukulele lessons via Skype or in my studio in Ottawa, Canada, contact me. If you live elsewhere or if you want flute lessons – you do NOT want to hear me play flute — here’s how to find a music teacher.

No matter what resource you use, employ caution and properly evaluate the teacher you are considering. If possible, try one lesson to see if you like their approach.

Word of mouth is your best resource. Ask your friends, co-workers and neighbors. If they look forward to lessons and are learning what they want, that’s good. If they’ve found Mr. Guitar God who only plays fast licks and expects students to get it by osmosis, run. Likewise for a teacher who never seems to be prepared or who wants to push his/her agenda without knowing your interests. For example, don’t choose a metal guitar player if you want to learn classical. While some teachers are versatile, many aren’t.

craigs listCraig’s List and Kijiji have tons of listings for teachers. It may take some time to get through all those ads. A quick way to narrow down your choices is to know what the average rate for lessons are. If most teachers in your area charge $25 for a half hour and someone’s asking $10, think about it. You could be getting someone who’s starting their teaching career (which can be good or bad) or someone who’s just casing your house. It’s also helpful to know their specialties and if they come to your house or if you go to their studio.

Music stores sometimes have great teachers. Unfortunately, some – not all — only offer lessons to get business in the door. That could mean that they don’t screen teachers well.

Websites like can be an excellent way to find teachers in your area. Keep in mind, however, that many don’t screen their instructors. Anyone who pays them can have a listing. (And some are free sites.)

guitar lesson flyerFlyers can sometimes be a reliable source, especially if you’re looking for an instructor in your neighborhood.

City sponsored classes at rec centers and the like can be great, especially for beginners. They are often very affordable.

You can find instructional videos online but remember that it could be a beginner. If I had a dollar for every wrong note I’ve heard on YouTube, I’d be driving a BMW. Heck, I’d have a fleet of chauffeured limos. They aren’t all bad, though. If you already play and you’re looking to learn a particular song, it can be beneficial to see people play it, especially if it’s the artist who made the song popular. I have a couple of instructional videos, one for beginning ukulele players and one for string players who want to learn strums (good for guitar, mandolin and ukulele, even though I’m playing a guitar):

DVDs, books, and downloads can offer excellent instruction. I highly recommend The downside to these kind of teachers is that students have to be highly self-motivated and you also can’t ask the teacher questions although you can rewind them. If only the rest of your life was like that, eh?

music schoolMusic schools can be a good place to find a teacher. Their reputation is based on having talented teachers. The downside is that many obligate you to a whole series of lessons. You probably don’t want to pay for a whole semester without trying one class or at least, talking to someone who’s taken that class.

Use a search engine. “Your city” plus “(instrument) lessons” usually works well. Check the links beyond the first page of listings. Coming up first only means they had great marketing or paid for an ad.

More about evaluating a teacher here. (It’s geared toward guitar teachers but it holds true for any music teacher.)

Good luck in your search! And remember, if you want to learn guitar, mandolin, ukulele or songwriting, I’m your woman. I teach via Skype and in my studio in Ottawa. Contact me here.

About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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