Lately I’ve had the pleasure of adding a few new students to my stable of pickers who are really promising. This is always a great and uplifting experience as a teacher, for many obvious reasons, but I always feel so good when this happens…I feel like if these pupils had not come to me at this particular time, it would be like they were a “tree falling in the woods” that no one would ever be hearing! This has even been the case with certain parents, who bringing their children to me for lessons, aren’t even aware of how truly talented they may be! It can be a scary thought, all that lost and unrecognized talent that would not have been recognized if not for me, but it sure is rewarding when it all comes together.
It doesn’t take much for an experienced teacher/player such as myself to really see this talent, or even potential, because my “read” on a player begins the minute they even walk in the door. How they carry themselves, how they hold the instrument and relate to it; these are all things that play into my evaluation of them even before a single note is played. Many times, then the first thing I may do, is to play a little rhythm part to get them going, so I can accompany them and hear how they might approach some improvising. This, hopefully, helps reduce some of the “jitters” they may be feeling upon our first meeting, and of course, helps me on the way towards understanding just what they may need as players. Lately, I’ve been so fortunate to really get some great new players. Some were quite experienced in the past, and now need some inspiration and want to “kick start” their playing prowess again, while some of the others are new players who are simply showing a great ear and natural technique right out of the gate!
These two situations represent the kinds of players that make my job so much easier and more pleasurable, and really represent a guitar teacher’s “dream come true!” It’s so important too, that we as teachers really learn to pay proper attention to this, and learn to do a good job recognizing real talent when it’s sitting right there across from us in that other chair! I was discussing this last night at a gathering with a woman who was a vocal coach, and we were sort of comparing notes on these kinds of experiences. I found that even having a discussion such as that was educational to me, and helped me to further crystallize my thought on this subject.
So if you are a teacher, please be super cogent of what those new students bring to the table. You just may have the next guitar star sitting right there in front of you as a “diamond in the rough!” Don’t let those opportunities pass you, or them, by!