Originally Posted by jaobrien6
Whether a private lesson is worth the cost depends 100% on the instructor. I had a private lesson 2 years ago, my first lesson in a while. I'd gotten some instructor recommendations beforehand, but did not make the effort to ensure any of them would be working the day I went up. They weren't. However I'd already gotten myself psyched up for a lesson, so I decided to go for it anyway. Waste of money. The instructor did not have much instruction for me at all. I take partial responsibility because I didn't do what I needed to in order to ensure I'd get a highly recommended instructor. But the ski area is also partly at fault for sending me out with someone who frankly wasn't equipped to effectively teach higher level lessons (I'm no expert, just a decent advanced skier). The only plus was getting to skip the line on a very good snow day, so I guess it wasn't a total loss.
You can double that for beginner/early intermediate lessons. Most newbies don't even know we should ask for a highly trained instructor who's able and willing to teach basics, rather than just do a walk-in and go with whoever happens to be willing to take you for the day. I now realize that not every instructor fits my needs and will do my part in the future.
I'm an underpaid civil servant, so $90 per hour is a big financial hit for me (totally worth it if it increases my whoo-hoos, though). So for a 2 hour private I called ahead, told them everything I could about my level and my goals, but didn't specify what kind of instructor I needed because I didn't think I had to. 2 hours isn't long but it was all I could afford, so I was rearing to go from the start. What I got in return was a day with a charming, chatty but bored ski buddy who gave me two tips then hardly looked at me for the remaining two hours despite all of my questions and requests for advice. So I came away absolutely discouraged, thinking maybe I just didn't have that ineffable 'it' anymore. It wasn't until I visited epicski's instruction and training forum that I learned what the heck he was talking about--for instance, I didn't even know where the beginning of a turn was (doh!). Next time I visited the mountain I spent all day skiing steeper and steeper blues, more and more parallel, completely under control--no thanks to anyone but some fine epicski contributors and my own mule-headedness..
There's a difference between being a bad student and being badly taught. Students and teachers don't always speak the same language, but you'd think a teacher would at least try. I know instructors aren't paid buckets of money, but if I take the responsibility to ask for a good teacher and am frank about my skiing ability I expect the school to try to find a fit for me. If they can't, I expect them to ask me if I want to reschedule for a day when someone appropriate is available.
So, next time I'll not only call ahead but say I need a PSIA level 3 or higher who is willing to help someone at my level, analyze my form, and actually teach me. I'll might tell them that I've been disappointed in the past, but I won't say that it was at their school, because I didn't do my due diligence last time.
If, despite that, they send me out with someone who's just not interested I'll cut the lesson short, and ask the school for my money back. It's harsh, and again, I know instructors aren't paid tons of money, but neither and I. They get points and kudos for personal requests, but if they can't even try both the and the school ought to learn from the experience--again, as long as I've done my part. And regardless of the cost, I want to learn how to ski better because I do it for the joy of it and I want to ski more, not to have someone make light of me. And if an instructor needs more training both he and the school should have the opportunity to make him an asset to students and to the school.