Do we still need instrumental tutors and why?

  • People come in a wide variety of configurations. Those who are self-motivated and able to learn things on their own are among the minority.

    This is true not just of music but pretty much everything. Years ago I wrote several books to help people improve their career (in tech as well as for creatives). I additionally did one on one mentoring. What I found is what pretty much any instructional author will tell you. The overwhelming majority of people consume books and media telling them how to improve life or learn a skill, and then take no action. This may sell a lot of books, but it doesn't do much for the people you're trying to help, which for many of us is the entire point. Relatively few people are wired to be self-starters.

    This is where teachers come in. A book or YouTube video isn't going to evaluate your performance, gauge your progress, identify where you're having trouble so helpful tips can be offered, highlight the things you're doing well so you have the encouragement and motivation to continue practicing, and so on.

    Books and videos also offer also no personal relationship. I think in our current quarantined reality, many people are beginning to realize the value of interaction. A two way video call is better than just watching a video. Sitting in the room with another actual human being is even better. That human connection creates a spark that can give you the strength to keep doing hard things (practicing anything is hard), and inspire you to reach for things you never would have believed on your own.

    Make no mistake, there's a difference between someone who can read a textbook or grade a paper and someone who's truly a teacher. Schools are full of the former, and we all remember them being about as inspirational as rock. Then there were those rare classes where the teacher just had the spark and could connect with students in an almost magical way.

    If you're capable of creating that kind of magic, I highly encourage you to go for it. There's no shortage of people who would benefit.

  • I think children who want to play may benefit from a structured learning environment. But, the approach that is best for a particular student may vary. The traditional "learn how to read music" approach may not appeal to the same young learner as the newer "Rock School" approach.

    But, If they are self-motivated enough, they can use all the online information to learn how to do the things they want to do, and hopefully get it just wrong enough to create something different, and perfect enough for their time that will let them do it for a living :)

    I think if an adult wants to play, or wants to start playing again, there is plenty of information on YouTube for them to figure it out. But, if they are more comfortable with a teacher/student approach, there is nothing wrong with that.

  • It is always good to have a person who listens and watches and respond immediately to the student.

    YT will not do that.

    I mean a good teacher will say things like "take care of being melodic,create nice music first,try not to shred from the first note" and such things..

    Also YT will not react ofcourse to sloppy practicing.A teacher will.

    But..if the student once reached a certain point and has developed a good mentality and also love for music..many,many tutorials on yt are really,really great.A lots of information.

    And if someone can already play and is just looking out for a certain thing..tutorials all the way..

    You don't need to pay a teacher just for learning tapping or arpeggio sweeping.Just go to yt.

  • Great points, everyone. Think this is going to be an interesting read with some very valid comments.

    There always has been self-taught and teacher-taught, whether reading the “play in a day” book or skipping the arm on some vinyl in the 50s/60s or clicking through youtube today.

    Depending on your age you may appreciate the values of the skills required v the technology available at that time, especially if you had personal tuition at some point.

    Does the fact that we (my generation) learnt by skipping back and forth on a cassette player give us an advantage over the kids surfing the net today?

    Being self taught is like making a journey without a map where you get lost and don't know what there is to cover, so, what can we get away with not learning?

    “We dont know what we dont know until we know about it”

    Part of the excitement of life is discovering new things and understanding what we don't know and then tackling it. Its sometimes difficult to explain to someone what they don't know.

    I wonder if a good teacher is as valuable now as it was a few decades ago?

  • For sure the "tape generation" had more work to do.

    The yt generation has much less work to do getting information for learning the instrument but it also has more decisions to make.Today kids have no false hopes and dreams to get "signed by a big record company which will make a MTV clip" with them..

    They have less work with getting all the information learning their instrument but they have much more work creating their social media presence.They have to do it all themselves.And as far as I can say this is a very time consuming job.

    As for being a teacher today..nothing has changed.Many things are by far easier than years ago.Teaching with the help of internet and all the technology in our hands..its good.Specially if you are a teacher who is "specialized" in a certain issue which certain people all over the place are interested in.This can be a lot of things.Certain use of music theory,teaching a certain style etc.

    In any case nothing has changed of what a good teacher is supposed to do.And this is most of all one very certain thing:Initiating this spark in his students heart..the love for music.The rest comes from alone.And this will never change.Sounds cheesy.But that's it.

  • skipping the arm on some vinyl

    In the 70s, everyone played Little Wing. Being a bit contrary, I decided to learn Castles Made of Sand instead. I was a broke musician with a very cheap turntable, but I did what we all did - sat down with the album (Axis: Bold as Love) and went over the song a gazillion times trying to figure out what Hendrix was doing because he never really did the exact same thing twice.

    By the time I was through, my cheap needle had carved a groove of its own from dropping before the song so many times, so every time I played the album after that it got to Castles Made of Sand and just went around in circles in the margin before the song started.

    Collateral damage, but at least I learned the song. Sorta. :)

  • You can learn to play guitar about 90% good with the internet, but that 10% feedback from a live in-person instructor makes you a guitar god, IMO. And you don't wait till the end at 90% to get that live 10%. Get that live 10% early on.

    The more you find what Kemper can do then the harder you try to find what it cannot do -- like make a good cup of Frappuccino.

  • No Internet in the mid 70s so I took 5 years of guitar lessons from a jazz virtuoso (Robert Conti.....check him out on Youtube and his website). I'm not a jazz player (that takes a life of dedication), but I got up to speed quickly and learned a lot of jazz chords and improved my ear immensely so that I could figure even more things off recordings than what he showed me. My technique also improved a lot to the point where the jazz learning really helped my rock.

    A great teacher is invaluable.

    The key to everything is patience.
    You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.
    -- Arnold H. Glasow

    If it doesn't produce results, don't do it.

    -- Me

  • My two cents:

    There is no substitute for in-person, personalized coaching and instruction. If nothing more than for having someone hold you accountable and not allowing you to waste time on things that don't matter. Sometimes the biggest problem is you forget where you were going.

    This is true in business, where the vast majority of highly-successful people have advisors and coaches.

    Not having a coach and/or trainer in athletics guarantees you'll never reach your potential.

    If education only required video and reading, online learning during COVID would've proved in-person was unnecessary for prime effectiveness. In reality, it proved much the opposite.

    “Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • I teach guitar. Firstly it provides motivation and consistency. These I think are the biggest points.
    Learning via YouTube etc independently often leads to jumping around, a lack of consistency and not improving as fast or in a meaningful direction.
    imo :)

  • "Practice doesn't make perfect; only 'Perfect Practice' makes perfect." — paraphrase from author Phillip Toshio Sudo (RIP) from his book,"Zen Guitar".

    I've taught on and off over the past 2 decades when times were tight, and I wholeheartedly concur that no matter how proficient ones becomes while regurgitating what they see on YT, without the teacher there to explain the how/why/when, then it's all meaningless—just a bunch of soulless notes drifting in the breeze.

    Some more great points that Phil makes in his book are that when the mind becomes too preoccupied with what the hands are doing, it shuts out the music inside. One overcomes self-consciousness through consistent, "perfect practice," as our muscles develop their own intelligence to the point where thought and action occur simultaneously (i.e., second nature/muscle memory).

    Point being, as the others have already stated, a YT vid isn't going to be able to provide the instant feedback a novice needs like a good ol' sit down, face-to-face, and it surely can't teach soulfulness and passion towards ones craft as well as in-person lessons can (IMHO).

  • While it's true there is a lot of online material to draw from, there's also no filter (like all things internet) and so you have to sort through a ton of chaff to get something useful. A new musician might not have that skill. Also, what is on YouTube is very fragmented - a structure of some kind helps you to progress by building a more solid foundation (when it's done right, of course). Relying solely on videos might teach you a lot of "hacks", but you need more than that to really build your abilities.

  • I'll give you an example of my experiences from playing drums for two years:

    The first thing I did was join Drumeo - that huge online drumming school. Everything was so well laid out, organized, with teachers showing you in real time with drum notation. In two years, thanks to online lessons, I went from horrible to less horrible, at a rapid pace, all due to the eye-to-eye contact with teachers & organized, planned lessons.

    Guitar? Been playing just over thirty years and have taken two lessons, back in 1993. I had that bad experience with the teacher that you sometimes hear about, and it totally turned me off to lessons ever again. But you know what? I learned from watching others, asking questions, Tablature, and, later on, the internet. Always with strict dedication & hours & hours of hard work & self-discipline. I've been learning Bebop Jazz online for free since last November. Just Tabs & musical examples...and my playing has REALLY progressed!

    Nothing against teachers. One of my very best friends teaches guitar, has for 25 years. But with a ton of structure, self-discipline & hard work, you can really get a lot better all on your own. I find some teachers are passionless & are doing it just for the money. I have zero time for those people. A passionate teacher is essential!

  • I think it's very important that someone (teacher) tells you what you are doing wrong.

    Students don't use to know if they are doing something in a wrong way (if they knew they'd do it right).

    So, at least for that only reason, teachers/tutors are important. But there are other reasons too. And there are some cons.

  • Learning on your own is a good way to develop bad habits and get them set in deep enough that they are really hard to change. I also think it is best to have someone to ask questions about the things you are not sure of as you progress.

    YouTube has provided a lot of information to people but I think it has actually made it more difficult to learn. You can see how to play something but the video may not show the correct way to play it. You will not understand what you are playing because there is nobody there to explain it to you and how the structure follows the theory on the fretboard.

    Using YouTube in conjunction with one on one lessons with someone can be a great benefit but I feel that you need someone experienced to ensure the video is showing correct techniques. You can have the important conversations about the song and theory and use it as another teaching aide.

    All of this is of course my opinion. I taught guitar lessons for a while. One thing I used to do a lot of was get people past points where they would get stuck. I saw a lot of people stuck in the same places. They learned a scale pattern or two and knew how to play chords an could play songs with them. They all had issues applying the scales and figuring out how to make music with them. I always took them back to the point if intervals and the scales and explained how the chords are built from the scale. They we would start work on how it all fits together to make music. That seems to be a very common place for people to get stuck in their progression.