We recently had a chat with Michael Gumley who is behind the Melbourne Guitar Academy. He talks about his teaching school, his passions and provides some insights on how best to get started learning to play the guitar.
First of all, can you introduce yourself and your business?
Hi, I’m Michael Gumley from Melbourne Guitar Academy, Melbourne’s Premier Guitar School. We’re located in Strathmore but will be opening up in Essendon in the New Year. I currently have 110 students and specialize in Rock, Metal and Blues music, taking intermediate players to advance levels, and helping advance players overcoming specific problems and hurdles in their playing. MGA also offers a number of different courses aimed at beginner students and hobby players who want to learn the guitar the right way and make great progress in the shortest amount of time possible.
What got you in to wanting to teach guitar?
I knew I wanted to be a guitar player the very first time I picked up a guitar and played a note. It was like I was hit by a bolt of lightning and I have been on fire ever since. I instantly knew I wanted to be a guitar god, perform my music around the world and play in a famous band. I also had a passion for sharing knowledge and really enjoyed teaching other people, so combining both my love of guitar and performing with teaching was a goal from the start.
For people wanting to get into teaching guitar, what do you think are a couple essential things you need to get started?
First and foremost you need to be passionate and love what you’re doing. If you don’t believe in yourself, no-one else is going to believe in you, and if you don’t love what you’re teaching, your lack of enthusiasm is going to put up a barrier between you and your students. If you can play guitar well but see teaching as a bit of cash on the side rather than something you enjoy doing, then it’s probably not for you. As far as getting started, whenever people want to get into anything (whether it’s teaching, live performance or just learning an instrument) I advise that you have to invest in yourself and be the best person you can be. If you’re the best version of yourself you’re going to be more organized, a great player and be in a positive place to be able to teach people.
What has been your biggest achievement as a guitarist and/or teacher so far?
My biggest achievement as a teacher was taking out my first lease on a property and opening my own school, that was only a year ago and I’m happy to say I’ve already outgrown the place and am relocating to a bigger location. Going from teaching at a few local schools and the spare room at my parents’ house to a commercial space is a huge step and definitely one that has benefited all of my students. In terms of my guitar and performing achievements it’s a tie between getting my first ever endorsement deal with ESP Guitars or rocking out on stage in front of 1000 people in Tokyo with my band Hybrid Nightmares. Bother were equally important to me at each stage of my career.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to learn guitar?
Anyone wanting to learn guitar should come to me for lessons right now!!!
Jokes aside, with the internet and YouTube there is more information and opportunities for people to learn guitar and self-teach than ever before. The only problem is that the majority of the content out there is total rubbish (anyone with a camera and a YouTube account can become a teacher these days), or the sheer magnitude of what’s available will have you learning and forgetting things endlessly without ever getting good at anything. To improve at guitar you need direction and learning from 20 different sources without a clear plan or anyone to hold you accountable can quickly lead to frustration, overwhelm and the majority of people giving up.
The most important advice I can give anyone wanting to learn guitar is to find a great teacher. A great teacher will work with you to determine your goals and come up with a lesson plan to help you achieve them. This will keep your lessons organized, relevant to your own goals and will have you progressing quickly. If your lessons aren’t fun, feel like they’re organized on the fly, and you can’t see how what you’re learning is relevant to your goals, then you probably have a mediocre teacher, even if they mean well.
If you’re interested in lessons I highly recommend you head to my webpage www.MelbourneGuitarAcademy.com to book a FREE Introduction & Evaluation Lesson. Whether you’re a total beginner, an advancing player who wants to take it to the next level or an old dog looking to learn a few new tricks, I’ll be able to create a lesson program that will transform you into the guitarists you’ve always dreamed of being.