In this edition of the RGT Guitar Tutor Interview Series, we are sitting down with guitarist and guitar tutor David Millar. A Registered RGT Guitar Tutor since 1995, David is an experienced performer and tutor who currently runs his own home guitar teaching studio in County Armagh.
Having written articles for RGT’s Guitar Tutor Magazine, and presented workshops at the annual RGT Guitar Tutor Conference in London, we wanted to sit down with David and find out why he chooses the RGT exams for his students, how he deals with nervousness before exams, and the biggest challenges he’s faced running his own successful guitar teaching business.
To learn more about his teaching and performance background, please visit the guitar tutor David Millar Homepage.
David Millar: I noticed an advert in a guitar magazine sometime back around 1992 and joined RGT shortly afterwards.
RGT guitar grade exams do offer a wide range of options for anyone teaching the guitar, and I encourage my students to take the exams to give them structure to their learning and goals to aim for in their studies.
RGT: What do you find is the biggest challenge when preparing a student for an upcoming RGT exam?
David Millar: Each student will have their own individual strengths and weaknesses so it is important to be aware of these.
In the last exam session I entered 40 students, so it can sometimes be a challenge keeping track of everyone as well.
RGT: Most students, if not all, deal with nervousness on some level either before or during their exams. How do you address this issue with your students in their lessons?
David Millar: Being confident and well prepared for what you have to do is the best way to deal with nerves.
This also applies to live performance, and I try to give students an opportunity to perform live in student or school concerts, and in music festivals.
Being nervous is quite a natural thing, so helping students to gain confidence and experience is how to best to address and overcome this.
RGT: You have taught in a number of different situations and setups over the years. How do you approach teaching in a school setting as opposed to a one-on-one setting for example? Does your approach change and if so how do you adapt to these various teaching environments?
David Millar: Teaching in a group setting is quite different from one-to-one tuition. It is usually a bit more demanding but also usually yields a higher fee in return.
There are many techniques and methods that you can develop and employ to make group tuition effective.
For example, if teaching young students, using a “rest” position to place their instruments on their laps stops them playing when they should be listening.
If teaching mixed ability classes, using the more experienced players to mentor less experiences players can be quite effective.
Schools can present their own unique challenges, so you have to acquire and develop skills for dealing with different types of people in different settings.
RGT: You have built and run your own teaching studio in County Armagh. What was the biggest challenge in putting together and running your own home-based teaching business?
David Millar: The biggest challenges are from the business side, approaching things with a sound business sense and perspective.
It’s also important when running a home-based business to maintain a healthy separation of the business from other aspects of life.
RGT: You have a DipLCM(TD) Teaching Diploma and are constantly upgrading your education as a guitarist and educator. Do you feel there will ever become a time when you stop learning, or is that a lifelong journey for you as a player and teacher?
David Millar: I do believe that education is a lifelong journey, and I try to attend workshops and seminars whenever I can.
I have attended the CAAS, Chet Atkins convention, in Nashville four times and learned so much being around some of the best players and guitar educators in fingerstyle playing.
Some of the people I’ve met there are from Chet’s generation, and although advanced in years, they remain so passionate about learning, promoting and playing the instrument.
RGT: If you had one piece of advice for other guitar teachers that are preparing students for RGT exams, what would it be?
David Millar: Treat each student as an individual and try to present the exams in a positive way that will improve the student’s confidence, development and experience.
Young people in particular do sometimes feel pressured with so many other exams in their lives, so make sure learning and playing the guitar is always an enjoyable and enriching experience for them when they are preparing for RGT exams.
Not a Registered RGT Teacher yet? Visit the Join the RGT Page to find out the great benefits that membership has to offer.