In this edition of the RGT Guitar Tutor Interview Series, we are sitting down with Ohio-based guitarist and guitar teacher Britt Reed.
After working in Sales for many years, Britt has recently left that field to pursue his passion for playing and more recently, teaching guitar.
Starting out as a guitar teacher can be tough, especially for those that come to the field later in life, but as Britt discusses below, there’s no better time than the present to follow your dreams and pursue your love of guitar, with the help of organizations such as RGT.
We recently caught up with Britt to talk about how he become aware of the RGT, what it is like starting his first guitar teaching job later in life, and the benefits of using the RGT syllabus for beginning guitar tutors.
RGT: How did you become aware of RGT, and why do you chose to encourage your students to take RGT guitar exams?
Britt Reed: I first became aware of RGT last year through my guitar instructor, Matt Warnock.
I started preparing for the exams myself until I became sidelined with an months-long injury.
After that initial exposure I became aware of the RGT Syllabus and was intrigued with the systematic, yet interesting and well thought out way the material was presented.
It’s easy to understand, easy to follow and fun for both teacher and student alike.
Keeping a student’s interest is easier when new ideas can be demonstrated in practical application, not only with the exercises but with real, musical application as well.
I feel this allows students to retain much more of the information they are absorbing, when application and fun become partners in learning, as well as giving them a head start in thinking for themselves when encountering new musical material.
Testing one’s capabilities is a natural way of building confidence and self esteem, both very important aspects of any aspiring musicians training.
RGT: You have recently started your first teaching position at the Richland Academy of Fine Arts in Mansfield OH. How are you preparing for your first guitar teaching position, and how do you see the RGT guitar syllabus fitting into your lesson plans?
Britt Reed: First off, I’ve made it a point to meet the director, different teachers, Modern Dance, Vocal, Instrumental etc., and of course the office staff.
I have sat in on a few classes to observe the methods and styles of several teachers so that I can align myself with the current level of expectation from the Academy.
I just played in the Fall Staff Recital, allowing me to meet some of the parents and students and get my name and face known to those that I have yet to meet in person.
I have the Initial Stage, Grade 1 and Grade 2 RGT books for Rock, Acoustic, and Electric Guitar and have read through them all before starting my teaching job.
I have done this in order to make it easier for me to help guide my students in deciding what they would like to pursue, depending on their aspirations, abilities and current level of understanding. So that they will get the most out of our time together.
I feel the RGT exams will appeal to many students wanting to build a solid foundation in a non-intimidating, fun way, while navigating their journey to learning the guitar.
I also look forward to bringing this material to players that have some experience under their belts, yet would like to reinforce their current level of understanding, leading into the higher RGT grade levels.
RGT: As someone that came to guitar teaching in your adult life, after you’ve had another career, why did you choose to focus your time on studying and teaching guitar at this point in your life?
Britt Reed: Well, my story is a familiar one. I started out playing at age 15. I was self taught but had a burning desire and love for music.
I got really serious about it in the late ‘80s when I started gigging with some very fine players in my home town, playing anything from Reggae to Prog Rock and Fusion.
I took lessons from a great teacher and player Jason Hagen who really opened my eyes to a lot of things that tied into what I already knew, but had no idea why they worked.
That fire burned in me until in the mid ‘90s when my sales career took off, totally consuming my time and efforts for the next 15 years.
Anyway, after my sales career tanked along with the economy in ‘08, I held on for a few more years until the end of that part of my life came.
After that, I was in shock for the next six months wondering what on earth I was going to do, when it dawned on me that I could pursue my first musical love, jazz.
For the next two to three years I was consumed with studying theory intensely as I retaught myself to play guitar, all under the guidance of RGT tutor and examiner Matt Warnock.
Jazz has always been my passion and now was the time to give my all. I am as much the student as the teacher, and now I feel is the time to start giving back as I begin a teaching career myself.
Through networking and meeting local musicians, talking to any and everyone I could interested in music locally, I’ve started to generate some interest in what I was doing, and musicians began asking me to play with them.
It had been snowballing right up to the point when the Academy Director called asking if “I were interested in teaching there.”
I can only say how truly honored and humbled I am for being able to have the chance to follow my dream while helping others follow theirs as well.
RGT: Entering into your first term teaching private guitar lessons, what do you see as the biggest challenge you’ll face, and how are you preparing to deal with this challenge beforehand.
Britt Reed: I think that getting into the heads of the younger students will be a learning experience for me since I have been so focused on studying advanced jazz concepts over the past few years.
Young minds are eager for knowledge yet want to have fun, but I’m sure I will be able to adapt quickly.
Of course that’s where some of the biggest influence I could possibly hope to make may come from, teaching younger students.
Nothing is more satisfying than opening up a young persons mind, seeing them delight in music unfamiliar to them.
My 7 and 3 year old grandsons have both passed many hours sitting on my knee listening to Miles or Bill Evans etc. and digging it, clapping their hands swinging with the beat.
Passing on the love of music and preserving the art, regardless of style ,is my ultimate goal.
RGT: If you had one piece of advice for other players that are getting into teaching later in life, what would it be?
Britt Reed: I can say this with complete sincerity, it is never too late to follow your dreams.
If you want to pursue your passions from your “glory days” and think you can’t and therefore don’t try, you won’t succeed.
No one truly fails until they stop trying.
There is no greater honor than passing along what we have learned to the next generation.
Become a sponge, listen to everything you want to study and teach. Read everything you can get your hands on, the internet is an incredible tool for aspiring guitar teachers.
Most of all “Have Fun!”
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