Do You Really Need Lessons to Learn to Play Guitar?

Well, it’s right after the holiday season, and a lot of girls and boys out there got their very first guitar for Christmas or their family’s holiday equivalent.  It probably got tuned up one time real good and then quickly forgotten in the “cooler” toys.  Now, we’re past the New Year and the new is starting to wear off all those shiny things.  It’s time to come back to that real musical instrument that you now possess and start thinking about a plan to learn how to play.  This article will address a question we hear a lot hear around here.  Maybe it’s you, or maybe you are a parent with a child that is eager to learn to play guitar but you know next to nothing about it yourself.  So, you’re wondering if you really need to pay a teacher and have face-to-face lessons to learn to play.  You came to the right place.

Anything is Possible — But Let’s Keep It Real

We’re going to give it to you straight.  In this day and age, there are so many resources out there that you certainly could learn to play the guitar without ever taking a conventional lesson.  You’ve got YouTube, the web, any number of instructional books, and even online services tailored just for this task.  We’ve got video games like RockSmith that try to make learning a game.  Many of us started out with a good old Mel Bay chord book in the old days, but the options are so much greater today.

Having said all of that, individual study requires individual drive.  You know yourself or your child better than anyone, so you are most certainly qualified to answer this question.  Is the would-be guitarist here the type that is self-motivated?  Do they have the drive to practice and study this craft on their own without prompting?

You can find plenty of wonderful instructors on the Internet, but the difference between that and the old-fashioned face-to-face style is a little accountability.  It may seem like a waste of time to pack up your gear and drive to a guitar shop to meet a teacher, but it forces you to stick to a time and have some sense of duty about it.  So, once again, it comes down to the individual.  If you are the type of person that has that kind of drive to stay motivated all on your own, then there are plenty of ways to learn to play guitar without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.  For others, “real” lessons may be a better option.

It’s Not Forever

While there may be guitar instructors that ask for a certain amount of lessons up front, most go on a individual basis.  Meaning that you bring whatever the agreed upon rate is with you to the lesson.  This isn’t a three-year contract or like buying a car.  You can totally try a couple of lessons and then back out if you feel it isn’t worth it.  Maybe you want to shop instructors.  Nothing wrong with that either.  Your style or goals may not match up perfect with the first teacher you meet.  It’s part of the game and there should be no hard feelings.

Those first couple of lessons can be a great help even if you have no intentions of going much past that.  You can watch a YouTube video about tuning your guitar all day long, but when you go to wind that little E string for the first time, you’re still going to be a little nervous about it.  Those things get really tight, and you will think you are going to break it until you get used to it.  A physical teacher on site can help by giving direct, real-time input instead of just being a video that keeps going no matter what.

Same thing goes for strumming and chords.  The online lessons may be great for learning, but they can’t provide that real-time feedback that can really help.  It’s a video, and they just assume you’re doing great.  Yes, you can pause it, but you can’t ask questions tailored to your situation.  There’s something to be said for the old-fashioned way when it comes to communication.

A Combination May Be the Best Route

The beauty of having multiple ways to learn is that you don’t have to be locked in on just one.  So you sign up for some personal lessons around your town.  That’s great.  Supplement that with Internet tutorials.  Grab some books.  Don’t be limited to any one way of learning.  It’s all open season, and a whole lot of it is absolutely free.

Try different things and see what works best for your particular situation.  As your skill level increases, you may find yourself outgrowing your learning tools.  This is good news.  Move on when the time comes and head for greener pastures.  Also, the Internet provides a lot of options to pursue the path that appeals to you the most.  Whatever kind of music you are into, there’s an excellent chance that your favorite songs are being broken down by someone on YouTube as we speak.  More often than not, it’s completely free.  Worst possible scenario, you have to watch an advertisement or two to get to the content.

Never before in history has there been so many options for someone wanting to learn to play guitar.  While that’s a great problem to have, it does present a challenge.  Which is the best way to learn?  How should you begin?  These are good questions, and we hope the tips and strategies we’ve presented in this article may help you get on the right path.  

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