Sometimes, those of us who do teach for a living must be very careful about whom we teach. There are of course, many factors involved in whether or not you and the students are a good “fit”, and many of them intangible, but still there are some guild lines you should be on the watch for.
One of the first things I truly look for is for the kind of “ear” the student may have. Usually when a new student comes to me for lessons, I can read their strengths and weaknesses quite easily, but I still like to ask a few questions over the phone on our initial conversation.
Of course, I always ask the obvious things; you know, like “how long have you been playing?”, or “what kind of music do you like to play?” things like this, but then again, many of my students know who I am and what I’m about guitar-wise, so it’s fairly easy to sense what they may be seeking in terms of guitar knowledge from me. But what I am really looking for is a true musical “spark” that I can tell they have which immediately tells me what kind of progress I can expect from them. I imagine all teachers of many kinds, even the ones in grade school, if they’re good, love to see that “spark” in a student for sure, and they instantly know that this is a kind of student they will find real joy and pride in teaching. I’m really the same way, but I love to give everybody the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their ability to learn and absorb things, and only when I feel that there is less hope than I thought, do I start to handle them really differently.
It’s also incumbent upon me to be able to diplomatically describe to them just what it is I feel they are lacking, and to not get too harshly critical of them. Everyone deserves a fighting chance, and you really never know just when that missing “spark” may suddenly ignite in that particular person! If it even gets to the point where you and your student have really decided that “enough is enough” and that the fit just isn’t right, it becomes quite obvious for sure, and you’re both better off calling it quits with each other. The part I don’t understand is when some students stop just as the sparks are really starting to fly, and I feel like they’re finally really “getting it.” That’s one I’ll never really get! But regardless, the process is a real fun and rewarding one, and should be this was for all student/teacher relationships! Happy learning and teaching!