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Steve Stine Teaching Tips

Fargo, ND resident expounds on his guitar teaching theories and background, traditionally and online.

Background & Theory

Guitarist and guitar teacher Steve Stine, a resident of Fargo, ND, typifies the new breed of guitar teacher who makes use of both traditional and time-tested methods, as well as the Internet, in formulating individualized lesson plans. A full time veteran guitar teacher with twenty-five years experience, Stine teaches private and group sessions at North Dakota State University in Fargo, at a local Montessori School, and at the Elevate Rock School, also in Fargo. Additionally, Stine markets guitar instructional videos with GuitarZoom, and still maintains a satisfying family life and touring/recording schedule. Stine says one of the reasons he has been successful is because he pays attention to detail. “I read between the lines. Because I’ve been a music teacher in the school system, I have had classes-and continue to do so-in psychology and the growth of children, and methods of teaching that attain results. I can break ideas down to into their smallest theoretical or visual concepts, teach them and build them back up. Group classes are great for general ideas and education, as you usually have a large number of students of a variety of ages, but private lessons are essential to truly understand the elements that are lacking in an individual, whether they are weekly or on a per-lesson basis.”

“You Tube is great, but the problem is, there are a million things out there with a million points of view, and it can be very confusing, or at the very least limiting”

In-Person vs. Online Teaching

We asked Steve to compare and contrast in-person versus online teaching, and this was what he had to say. “Person-to-person lessons are more personal, obviously, because you can work with the student from a couple of feet away. Online lessons are a bit less intimate in that aspect, but still very effective, as many students want to take lessons from a teacher they trust and understand, and sometimes, that’s not available locally. One plus to online lessons is they can be recorded and watched over and over. Some students prefer the online experience, as they’re more comfortable at home instead of sitting in a store or stranger’s house. “The general quality of online teaching can be great, but there are two things that make a big difference: the speed of the Internet connection on both sides, and the software used to interact between teacher and student. Many people use Skype for lessons, but there are far better options out there, and they cost more money, which may be worth it to the student.”

What are the challenges of developing online guitar tuition?

“Finding software or online applications that are clean, clear and sound good, with options of sending and receiving files easily and immediately is the challenge. Some people ask me, ‘Why should I pay for any guitar tuition when YouTube is free?’ “You Tube is great, but the problem is, there are a million things out there with a million points of view, and it can be very confusing, or at the very least limiting, because there’s no continuity. And if you find something that has continuity, who’s to say it will work for you? It’s always more beneficial to have someone who can work with and help you. Even my DVD products are formatted with the idea of not missing anything between the concepts being taught, and there’s tech support-which is me-along the way. “Online guitar teaching is evolving. There’s a product out there called eJamming, which is incredible for interactive jamming, although you can’t jam with someone simultaneously via the Skype style methods. I see this, integrated with great video-to-video interaction and more Internet speed, as the future of guitar lessons.”

Teaching Style

When asked to analyze his teaching style, Steve commented, “I have been doing this my entire life. I cater to each student, I don’t use method books, and I create methods for each based upon their wants and needs. I always remember that a student does not have to be here. I need to make the lesson an experience they enjoy, one that keeps them excited to practice. I am available after the lesson to help them with any questions they may have. “I don’t simply do this for income; I do this because it’s what I’m good at. I have a knack for finding that ‘cutoff’ point, where you push students too hard and lose them. My goal is not to have them become me or follow my musical belief system, but to encourage them on their journey.”

By Bob Cianci
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