IS 'STYLE' A MATTER OF FASHION?
WHAT DO PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS MEAN WHEN THEY ASK -
"WHAT STYLES DO YOU TEACH?"
The question that is most often asked of guitar instructors by prospective students enquiring about lessons is "what style(s) do you teach?".
To the qualified instructor this question can sometimes be difficult to give a short answer to. This is because the same question has different meanings depending on who is asking it. Some people who ask this question are (to themselves) referring to genres of music, which may drift in and out of fashion (popularity), for those who follow fashion. Others may be referring to techniques, and some may even be referring to the sounds that various types of guitar make (Acoustic, Classical, Electric, Jazz, Bass etc). Of course the categories of genre, fashion, techniques and instruments may often interact.
If the question is referring to major genres of (western) musical styles, for example, classical, flamenco, country & western, folk, rock, jazz, blues, latin-american, reggae etc., then a qualified teacher should at the least be able to teach the basic elements of all these 'styles' and will likely have more expertise in certain categories.
However, please remember that even the few categories listed above can be split into many more sub-categories. As an analogy, styles of music world-wide in different regions of different countries are like grains of sand on a beach - more than any one person could ever know, let alone be expert in them all.
The trade-off between breadth and depth appears in any field of study.
With regard to the various techniques (styles) or methods of executing sounds. A qualified instructor should be well versed on a wide range of techniques (for both hands) for producing different sounds. For example, plectrum styles, finger styles, etouffez, apoyando, tirando, golpe, rasgueandos, tambor, parando, artificial and natural harmonics, slurring, tremolo, staccato, vibrato, string bending, and so on.
I think a good instructor should at least be able to demonstrate on all types of guitar, although instructors will have their own personal preferences as to the sound they like.
However, if the enquiring prospective student doesn't know how to find notes on the fingerboard or has no knowledge of music fundamentals, then I would suggest that the question may be a case of "putting the cart in front of the horse". The basics of any subject should always be learned first for a solid foundation.
Learn to walk first before trying to run.
Therefore, I always try to find out what the enquirer wants to know when they ask "what styles do you teach?"
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