Went to the Atlanta hair show last weekend with the purpose of taking as many cutting classes as I could.
The overall experience was mixed. Many of the teachers were one man/woman shows with a lot of emphasis on selling their personal DVDs, getting you to subscribe to their newsletter, join their club, or hiring them to come to teach at your salon.
There was one completely professional presentation by Andis which was done by Ivan Zoot. In this he gave real data on Andis products and then gave clear demonstrations on how to use clippers in different techniques.
For the other presentations, the presenter was portraying him or herself as knowing something that the rest of the industry did not quite understand. It was not clear where they learned their stuff but the emphasis was on their years of cutting experience. Most had vibrant personalities and were likeable. Oh, and by the way did I mention they had DVDs for sale?!
One group pulled a bait and switch telling you you would get a sample of the product and a DVD showing how to use. When you got to their class you were told you would not get the product or the DVD.
Technical descriptions were lacking when compared with the kind of instruction I have received at Sassoon classes or from American Crew home study.
This raises the question of what should you expect from a free class. Other than the presentation by Andis, my expectation is that a lot of the class will be devoted to how wonderful the presenter is in their own estimation. A lot more will be devoted to how useful their products will be to you. No data is given about the products. No showing of the DVDs was seen. No data on their brand of moisturizer or shampoo or other products was given. Anecdotal fluff was the general rule.
I could not find any free classes by any company that was known for education except for Andis. Paul Mitchell, Sassoon, American Crew, and Redken did not have free classes or paid classes I could find.
It does seem many people do learn to cut hair with experience being the major teacher. It is not clear that this qualifies them to be teachers of what they do. They don't seem to know how to put into precise words what they do. This is the difference between the self-made cutter and the major brands listed above.
There was some good stuff in most of the classes. For example I saw how a teacher cut hair by cutting hair into the desired shape without using partings or sections. It resembled free hand sculpting. In general the good stuff could have been covered in less than 5 minutes. Thank goodness I am not bitter.
A couple of stylist from out of town told me they never went to presentations. They only came to hair shows for the product prices.