After over a decade of teaching guitar and music instruction, I've met and worked with a myriad of other instructors, students and also have been familiar with the teaching methods of various tutors and learning centers. I often get parents of students inquiring what the difference is between going with a learning center v.s. a private tutor.
Private Tutors are often very experienced instructors. Rather than teach at a learning center or music store, many private tutors have a skillset or resume that makes their services specifically in demand. This often includes members of the local orchestra, published songwriters and composers, and degreed players of specific instruments that have decided to open their own learning studio. In the case of elite instructors, as required by advaned students, a private music tutor is really the only option. Some private tutors teach out of their own home, some will have a small studio space with recording equipment available, others teach in the home of the student as a convenience for busy schedules. Private tutors typically do not group a bunch of students together into "group lessons", offering instead individual attention only.
Private Tutor Benefits:
- A longer teaching resume
- One on one interaction for students
- Many are professionals in their field or elite instructors
- Some travel to the student
- Many provide other teaching resources such as recording and composition instruction
Learning Centers have become a familiar institution, often offering multiple instrument disciplines under one roof. Often Learning Centers are attached to music stores, and keep more regular 9 to 5 hours, with a standard storefront. Teachers come from all sorts of background, from just out of highschool to musical journeymen to classical instructors with degrees. Pricing is often standardized, and group lessons are usually offered. Learning centers are typically paid by the month with no makeup options or refunds, and limited scheduling flexibility.
Learning Center Benefits:
- Many instrument instructors available
- Storefront or music store housed
- Supplies often available on site
- Accept credit cards
- Often standard 9-5 hours
Which is right for you? With all teachers, or tutors, you want to check their resume of both real world work and also their track record of working with students. Often with learning centers, you would walk in the door and pay the monthly fee, and then they would pair the student with a teacher.
Should I get Group Lessons? I usually reccomend not doing group lessons unless the student is very very young or under 8 years of age. Usually group lessons at a learning center are intruductions to music and rhythm, in a more entertaining manner rather than focused instrument instruction aimed at very young kids. Traditionally I find that 2 months of private instructon with a student that is ready and interested in an instrument is about as effective as 6 months of group lessons.
Try meeting the teacher first and finding out more about the instructor before committing to instruction. While there's some great pro-level instructors at learning centers, I have also run into situations where some take on new employees with little or no experience whatsoever, which really can short-change someone's chance to learn an instrument. And with private tutors always ask for a resume and references when possible.