Big Ideas / Finding a Guitar Teacher / Guitar Lessons

5 Reasons you should take guitar lessons.

Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been trying to teach yourself for a while, chances are you’ve considered taking one-on-one guitar lessons. If you’ve never actually sat down with a professional guitar instructor, allow me to show you just a few of the advantages formal guitar lessons have to offer.

Advantage #1 : There is a tremendous history of over 200 years of accumulated knowledge about the guitar.

The modern guitar is the product of a rich history that stretches back over 200 years. The collected body of knowledge, technique, and repertoire for guitar is made up of thousands of truly brilliant musical insights. These insights came from an incredible diversity of musical geniuses from different times and places: from the late eighteenth century master and teacher Ferdinand Sor, to modern guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix. All this knowledge and innovation is great, and has made the guitar the most popular instrument on earth, but it can also be extremely overwhelming to beginning guitar players. Luckily, for as long as guitarists have been inventing new techniques and sounds on the guitar, generations of guitar teachers have agonized over how to breakdown and package all this information to keep beginner students on track.

Advantage #2 : Weekly guitar classes will help you avoid dozens of bad habits.

Anyone who’s ever played guitar knows that even the most basic aspects of guitar technique are not easy at first. Guitar playing requires amounts of strength, flexibility, and precision in the hands that nobody possess initially. What is worse is that in the early stages, technical development is not at all intuitive. Due to the beginner’s lack of muscle development and flexibility, many things that “feel” right can actually lead to bad habits that can severely curtail the proper development. Throughout my years of teaching guitar I’ve seen so many beginners gravitate toward the same common mistakes. In the first few classes a big part of what we do as guitar instructors involves reminding beginners of these bad habits and encouraging them to practice properly so that they can develop the strength and flexibility to truly play the guitar beautifully.

Advantage #3 : Weekly guitar classes help you create a practice routine.

These days there is no shortage of information out there on the internet about how to play the guitar. There are tons of DVDs, YouTube tutorials, interactive software, even video games to try and help you learn to play guitar. All this information is great. It’s very useful stuff and you should try to take advantage of all of it. But you should also know that despite whatever anyone tells you, there is only ONE way to become a guitar player: PRACTICE. How well you play depends entirely on how well you practice. The most valuable thing I can offer beginner guitarists is to teach them how to practice. Later, with more advanced students, we learn how to evolve the practice routine so that it changes as the guitarist’s abilities change and grow. One of the scariest things about learning guitar is that you can waste a lot of time if you are not using effective practice methods. Even if you think you are working hard, you can stagnate indefinitely without an efficient and comprehensive practice plan. Don’t do this. Find a good guitar teacher who can help you set goals and develop a practice routine so that you can meet your goals in a timely fashion.

Another side note to this point is that weekly lessons tend to force people to practice more frequently than they would on their own. When it’s just you on your own, maybe you’ll practice today. Maybe you’ll skip a day, or 2, or 3… Who’s going to care other than you? This is how people tend to drift when they don’t have that weekly appointment reminding them to work hard and get better. Those skipped days turn into skipped weeks or months and pretty soon all momentum is lost. Worst of all you may become further discouraged from starting up again because of these setbacks. By signing up for guitar classes you are making a clear commitment that will go a long way to keeping you from falling off track. You are also specifically enlisting another person (your guitar instructor) to care about and actively monitor your progress. A good guitar instructor should be as invested in your progress as you are.

Advantage #4 : Lessons help you build tools.

The practice routine mentioned above can be considered one essential tool to learning the guitar in a reasonable amount of time. But it isn’t the only one. There are many others. Musical literacy is also a great tool. Strong internal sense of rhythm is another. A good guitar teacher can integrate the development of these important tools right into your weekly guitar classes. Developing the right tools for yourself can really change the whole experience of learning guitar. Without tools you will have to do many times more work for a small fraction of the outcome. WITH the right tools you can achieve amazing things from surprisingly little effort.

Advantage #5 : Lessons show you things you don’t know you need to know.

If the guitar is your first musical instrument, then you are not just learning guitar, you are also learning what it means to be a musician. There are many important concepts that most beginners aren’t aware of. If you are relying only on yourself to direct your musical study, there are things you’ll never teach yourself because you don’t know that they exist. A good guitar instructor will bring these things to your attention right when you need them most. This way you focus on what you need as you need it.

If you are going to learn to play the guitar, you should learn to play the instrument really well. It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s quite hard and most of the people who try the guitar quit before they can even play anything. Don’t let this happen to you. The advantages of formal guitar lessons are what makes this seemingly impossible task possible.

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