This question is a really tough call in general, because I am such a firm believer in the fact that everyone has music in them! Yet there are sometimes when I have to admit, I really feel like giving up hope on a student, simply because it just seems like they really, and absolutely don’t have “it!” Now, it’s a very tough thing to admit, but sometimes it’s just true. The problem is that often, these people, even though severely un-talented, may possess an incredible amount of drive and desire that really keeps them going, despite their lack of ability.
The biggest drawback, and the number one thing that can hamper a player is the lack or an ear. Having a good “ear”, and one that will improve is an absolute must of you expect to get better as a musician. Again, there are many who believe they have that “ear”, but are clueless as to how bad they may sound. After all, it takes an “ear” to know if you sound really bad too, right? Still many of these students and players go on and on, hoping they will one day hit that magic moment when it all comes together for them, ear-wise, and knowledge-wise. And of course, I am there, pulling like crazy for them, achingly going through the process of trying to get them to finally have that “magic” occur. Unfortunately, for me, this can make many frustrating sessions, some where I feel like I’ve gone through the wringer, just trying to get a point or a musical idea across to them! It can certainly be exhausting, and I must admit, it can try my patience at times…I must be careful not to get too frustrated with them. There are so many things I take so for granted about the guitar and music in general, that I can forget sometimes how truly hard it can be for some folks, even ones who are talented, and destined to become good players!
So, first and foremost, if you are a teacher of a seemingly “hopeless” student, you must give them all the benefit of the doubt they can possibly receive. It’s crucial that everyone be given the best of chances, since the guitar is so rewarding, even on some very rudimentary levels. If a player ends up only knowing a little bit, it really may be all they’ll need for a long time to make them happy! Never discourage, always encourage, and you’ll see that you as a teacher, as well as your “hopeless” student will see that the situation should never really be totally hopeless at all!!