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So You Have a Teacher. What's Next?

By Jonathan Vipond

The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. The golden rule of life is that there is always something new to learn. In my previous article I discussed why music lessons are a great idea if you are serious about your playing. I also discussed in a second article how to find a great teacher to help you (both of these articles can be found on my website along with many more at This article is about making sure that you are not only ready for lessons but to make sure that you get the most out of them.

Before you even set foot in the door of your music teacher's studio you should be ready and willing to accept the knowledge and advice your teacher will give you. If you think you know better then why are you there? It's like trying to eat a meal when you are full. If you have an open mind in lessons and are willing to take on suggestions as well as correction then you will benefit so much more.

So, how can you make sure that you absorb and develop what your teacher gives you? The ideal way is to record you lessons on a dictaphone, tape recorder, MP3 recorder or such like. That way you can always go back and listen to what went on. If this is not possible then bring a notebook and make sure you or your teacher write down the important point to remember when you are practising at home. Which brings us neatly onto the final point...

PRACTISE!! It has been said that a habit is formed after doing the same activity every day for 30 days. A regular practise routine should form part of your daily life. It is vitally important that you follow through with advice and instruction passed to you. Simply listening to instructions in lessons is not enough. That would be like buying a flat-pack table, reading the assembly instructions and then expecting the table to be magically built! A little bit of practise each day is also better than a few hours before you go into a lesson. It gives you a chance for your muscles and memory to develop as well as making sure you absorb all that information correctly.

Quality is the key here. Plan you time carefully to make sure that you warm up and cover everything that you need to, remembering to pay more attention to those aspects that give you more problems. If you put more time into playing the things you can do then is that really practise? No, it's playing which is of course fine as it's hopefully fun for you, but in order to advance you need to invest time into your development. A good teacher will show you interesting and stimulating ways of doing this.

Finally, finding new avenues of expression in music is an incredible discovery. You could study with the greatest teacher in the world but still be merely an imprint of their lessons unless you apply everything they have said to your own playing. The greatest students are not only the ones who listen and absorb but are able to develop and learn as a result of their experience. To put it simply, play for the enjoyment and play what you enjoy.

Jonathan Vipond

Copyright - Jonathan Vipond

Jonathan Vipond is a professional guitar instructor in West Yorkshire where he runs the Jonathan Vipond School of Guitar. With over 15 years of practical experience he has written and recorded albums and EPs, toured with several bands and has notched up hundreds of live shows to his name. Jonathan is currently studying with master musician, composer and teacher Tom Hess (

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