Teachers – Why You Should Be Concerned About The Instruments Your Students Are Playing!

Well, the first obvious reason is that no teacher wants to listen to the sound of twanging orange box guitars all day long! Hah hah!

I jest! There are, of course, other very important reasons as to why you, as a teacher, should be concerned about the instruments that your students are playing.

Typically, the better the quality of the guitar the easier it is to play. I’m sure you remember the time when you first played your first quality instrument and it was like a revelation wasn’t it? It made playing seem a whole lot easier, and a whole lot more enjoyable. Well, same will more than likely be the case for your students.

I’m sure you will hear a whole host of reasons as to why they can’t have a better guitar at this stage (finances aside). I don’t deserve it yet. If I can’t play well on this guitar, how could I possibly play well on any other guitar? They’re out of my league. They’re too expensive! I already have a guitar – what’s wrong with this one? Isn’t a guitar a guitar? what difference would a more expensive guitar make to me anyhow?

A teacher’s responsibility

When questions or statements like this come up (and even when they don’t), this is when I consider it the responsibility of a good teacher to recommend the type of instrument that a student should be progressing on to. If you’re looking out for your student’s welfare in this manner, I can assure you they’ll thank you for it.

Think about it. If you were learning an new instrument for the first time, battling away with what you thought was an OK instrument and suited to your level (regardless of whether it was or not), don’t you think you’d like some knowledgeable and experienced advice on what could actually help you out?

Those students of mine, and of other teachers, that have made an investment in a good instrument (and I’m not talking about taking out a bank loan or remortgaging the house here!) are the ones that I see developing. When I say developing I don’t just mean the quickest, because as we all know development can go in fits and starts, but also making significant developments in the quality of their playing, in their tone production and musicality. Have you ever tried to play a beautifully melodic and lyrical phrase on an orange box? I would probably struggle to get it sounding nice, so a student is probably more than likely to struggle. How discouraging!

Part of the developmental process

So a bad instrument can in fact hold students back in their development, and their enjoyment of the instrument. That kind of thing doesn’t bode well for a teaching practice, let alone promoting the instrument and having the student’s best interests at heart.

And of course, I’m not advocating that investing in a good quality instrument should be seen as bypassing or fast-tracking the learning process and development of good, solid technique. No. Far from it.

In fact, it should be considered a key part of the developmental process.

Happy student = happy teacher in demand!

With a student playing a better quality instrument, that they get a lot of enjoyment from (due to ease of playing, nicer sound and tone production and so on), the more inclined they are to practice. And of course, the more they’re inclined to practice, the greater the progress will be.

Then with increased progress, they’re likely to be buoyed further and so on in a wonderful virtuous cycle!

A student with a good quality instrument, is likely to be a developing student. A developing student, is an encouraged student. And encouraged student, is a happy student. And a happy student is one that is likely to continue their studies with the guitar. And with you as their teacher.

Where’s best to go for a new guitar?

If you or your students are in the market for a new guitar (and happen to be in Australia), I can personally highly recommend my good friend Pierre Herrero of Guitars Online. Pierre is one of the nicest chaps you’ll meet and he’s absolutely, totally passionate about the guitar. His aim is to provide the best instruments and the best choice of instruments for guitarists in Australia. He won’t sell you something just for the sake of making a sale – that’s totally not his style. And as you know, dear reader, I’d only recommend someone with the best interests of the player at heart.

Anyhoo, Pierre has just received a shipment of classical and flamenco guitars direct from Spain. He has guitars from Paulino Bernabe, Contreras, Conde Hermanos, Angel Benito Aguado, Alhambra and Jose Miguel Moreno as well as new arrivals from top Australian luthiers John Price, Graham Caldersmith and Alan Bull. I personally tested out a number of the guitars. For several hours. Fuelled on by Pierre’s awesome Spanish style coffee that makes your hair stand on end and play scales a lightning fast speed! I was like a kid in the proverbial candy store!! Head over to www.guitarsonline.com.au to check them out.

Jose Miguel Moreno’s Approach to Guitar Making

I’ve done a bit of work recently with Pierre Herrero of http://www.guitarsonline.com.au and I thought I’d take the opportunity to show you some of the cool stuff he’s been up to. Pierre has worked like an absolute trooper in the last few years to work with and source some very fine quality instruments, in Australia and in Europe, and make them available to the Australian market.

He’s recently returned from a testing, sourcing and buying trip over in Europe. During this time he toured around various luthier’s workshops and studios, talking to them about their methods, seeing how they practice the art of guitar-making, testing out new guitars (both tried and tested methods of building along with newer experimental models) – modern and period-type instruments, and selecting stock to bring over here. Yussss! Lots of lovely Spanish handiwork for those of us on the other side of the world to get our paws on!

And Pierre had the great idea of recording some of these sessions too. There are a couple of clips that are particularly interesting, and those constitute quite an in-depth discussion with a Spanish concert guitarist/period instrument musician and luthier by the name of Jose Miguel Moreno.

Jose Miguel has been working with Alhambra guitars to create a new breed of guitars – powerful and bold, yet relatively small and comfortable to play Romantic and early music-influenced guitars.

In this interview, Pierre and Jose Miguel discuss this approach. Take a look!

Hey – and don’t forget to take part in my survey. This is YOUR opportunity to help shape the direction of Classical Guitar n Stuff. Get on it!


* Just so you know, this post is not sponsored by guitarsonline.com. I just thought the clips of Jose Miguel talking about his new range of guitars was pretty cool and thought I’d share.