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I am currently taking Classical guitar lessons intending to take ABRSM graded exam.

The problem now is the guitar teacher doesn't seem to be well versed in Classical guitar. I have often spotted him practising jazz guitar when he has no lesson with his students. Anyway, since I paid for lessons, I continue to attend his lessons. But all I did is to follow the textbook and play according to the textbook. I am wondering how far he can teach the Classical guitar on a syllabus level. Maybe he can't handle higher grade ABRSM syllabus. I had asked him to demonstrate a certain piece of music for me but I sensed that he turned panicky but somehow able to briefly cross over my request.

Another issue is he can't articulate well in the English language. I often can't understand what he is trying to say and have to guess what he is trying to convey.

He praised me as a student who can be 'easily taught and understand his lessons well' but that is because I am not new to the guitar. And I have to guess what he is saying whenever he start talking to me.

I am keen to advance to higher grade in Classical guitar but not so comfortable to take lessons with a jazz guitar player who has problem communicating with his students.

Should I get another teacher ?

The reason why I am in a dilemma is because of the time/location of the lesson/school. And the cheaper than others tuition rate. There are no other slots/unsuitable timings available. which means I will have to spend time waiting for months after months to start lesson. I am a working adult btw.

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    You've already answered your own question, so what are you really asking? Are you looking for permission? What's stopping you from just going out and finding a teacher you feel more confident in?
    – Aaron
    Jul 5 at 3:09
  • The reason why I am in a dilemma is because of the time/location of the lesson/school. And the cheaper than others tuition rate. There are no other slots/unsuitable timings available. which means I will have to spend time waiting for months after months to start lesson. I am a working adult btw.
    – Eliz Ho
    Jul 5 at 3:17
  • I received excellent classical guitar lessons online via zoom. So location and school affiliation do not have to be a problem if you’re willing to try out online learning. Jul 5 at 4:14

2 Answers 2

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Several separate issues, it appears.

Firstly, cost. You're happy with the charge made by present teacher, but would have to pay more, maybe considerably more, for another. Your choice.

Next, availability. You already have a teacher, and are on the route to learning. Leave this one, and who knows how long till you find another - who may also turn out to be unsuitable for various reasons.

Next, language. You seem to be managing, albeit struggling, but still improving despite the problem of not understanding everything said. I'd think if you didn't understand, he'd show you.

Which brings us onto the next. Quite often (not always), jazz players have been through most other styles, before settling on jazz as their preferred. Maybe he can't play the higher grade classical well. So what? Just about every coach around can't perform as well as the folk they coach - football, tennis, boxing, and yes, playing instruments! That doesn't mean they can't teach well. I've had students who ended up far better players than I am, but it didn't stop me teaching them, or them being taught by me. That's the way it goes!

Next, distance/availability. Probably always going to be problematic, so, unless you try as Todd suggests with Zoom, you're stuck with that one. I've done lessons using Whatsapp, which I thought wouldn't be marvellous, but they worked o.k., and probably would improve if we did more.

Finally, the answer must be in your hands. All I've done is pinpoint each problem, and its possible solution. You have to weigh up the pros and cons yourself - we don't really know how good you are, how you learn, how well you learn, how you practise. But if progress has been o.k. with the present teacher, despite all odds, stick with him - the next one may turn out equally unsuitable, for a myriad of reasons. Then where are you? Starting all over again.

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I agree with Tim's answer, but I am posting this to suggest a slightly different tack.

I am keen to advance to higher grade in Classical guitar but not so comfortable to take lessons with a jazz guitar player who has problem communicating with his students.

I would focus on your discomfort with this teacher. It's entirely possible that another jazz guitar player with limited English would make a much better teacher for you. It's possible that a native speaker of English who specializes in classical guitar would be a less effective teacher for you. Whatever you do, don't leave this teacher because of who he is, nor even because of what he does, but because of what you are or aren't getting from the lessons.

Analyzing the reasons for your discomfort with the teacher may be helpful for any of several reasons. It might help you find a more suitable teacher. It also might help you approach the teacher differently. Whatever you do, don't talk about these things with the teacher as reasons why you no longer want to study with the teacher, but give the teacher a chance to respond to them and perhaps adjust his teaching to your learning style -- or don't mention them at all. If you haven't brought them up by the time you tell the teacher you're stopping, it's too late.

I know: I've had students who did both, and being told that you are inadequate in some way without having a chance to address it is difficult and frustrating. A student expressing unhappiness about something in the hope that it can be improved is actually a sign of respect, and, in the end, it will either improve the experience for both of you or help the teacher understand that the relationship is not fruitful for the student.

But, in the end, you don't need a better reason for leaving your teacher than "I'm not learning enough" or even "I'm not comfortable." A "stronger" or more specific justification than that is just an excuse, really.

All of this assumes a fair amount of good will on the teacher's part, of course, and the teacher may not be so mature and self confident. Your mention of "turning panicky" hints at this. If the teacher is too defensive, then it might not be worthwhile to address these issues explicitly. If that's your sense, then just leave, and be as vague as possible about why.

If you are set on leaving, though, consider Tim's point that finding a new teacher brings its own risk. Consider shopping for a new teacher before you leave your current one. Maybe it will be a while before you can find someone better than your current teacher; in the interim, you can still get what you can from him. Maybe if you approach the process of auditioning new teachers with sufficient care, you will find a better teacher at a similar rate or who is similarly convenient with regard to schedule and location. Even if you do settle on someone who can't start teaching you for months and months, you can continue with your current teacher in the meanwhile.

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