When you start out learning to play the guitar, you think that it’s an easy instrument, that learning it won’t take long, that you can do it yourself or with the help of various online videos.
But more often, when learning to play the guitar, you’re going to need to show some persistence and it will take time: playing the guitar, like all musical instruments, isn’t picked up in the blink of an eye and you won’t actually know how to play the guitar in one weekend.
Even if you’re gifted, you’re going to need to learn certain techniques: if you’re a true beginner or if you already know some basic principles, such has how to position your hand on the neck, the main chords, or how to hold a pick, among many others, there is always something else to learn on the guitar, and that’s what makes this instrument so interesting.
The basics are important.
Between online guitar courses, personal courses with a music teacher, learning about the guitar through a book, an ebook, a DVD, or by playing with friends, there are many different ways to learn to play the guitar.
First there is the self-taught approach, which is when you teach yourself with the help of various forms of support.
Learning to Play the Guitar On Your Own
As your own teacher, you’ll need to have the necessary focus, energy, and necessary motivation and be able to find all of the useful information in terms of learning the essential basics, and not waste time with useless paths, while also practicing exercises.
This requires a very strong will.
Teaching yourself can be done… but it’s not easy.
The first instinct you’ll have when you pick up a guitar is that you’ll want to play at home by yourself, or with friends; others might be better than you, their levels maybe at a point where you can learn a few interesting points.
Being able to play within a group is a great feeling: you’ll listen, observe, understand, be able to discuss one technique or another with your friends, and you’ll learn some useful tips.
Nonetheless, this instinct has its limits: first, you run the risk of adopting bad habits (the positioning of your left hand, holding the pick, placing your fingers to play a chord, etc.) and no one will be there to correct them.
Secondly, once you’ve gotten a handle on the basics and can play two or three songs, string together a few chords, your level won’t really advance: you’ll stagnate and there’s a risk that you’ll lose motivation and feel the urge to abandon the guitar altogether.
Learning to Play the Guitar with Supporting Materials
There are lots of written supplemental materials: a number of books, including those on approaches to specific guitar styles (folk, rock, blues, reggae, flamenco, etc.), can be found in specialty stores.
This is a very good form of support, one not lacking in educational structure.
Books are always a good place to start.
Most of the time, these books and methods will show you the basics, offer some exercises, and some help you play a few songs as you get started playing the guitar, but they won’t be able to really help you make progress.
It’s possible that a CD or DVD comes with the book, enabling you to listen to audio examples.
Videos to Learn to Play the Guitar
Another way is through videos: now all on DVD, this technique allows direct access to relevant segments, those the correspond to your level of progress on the guitar.
With this kind of support, the sound quality is perfect, as are the images, which allows you to study the placement of the hands and fingers, the different sequences, how to position your body, and much more, all in great detail.
The details are important with the guitar.
This method is very effective because it offers audio and visual samples, a bit like you’re sitting with a real teacher—but without the benefit, of course, of the interaction.
Learning to Play the Guitar with Magazines
The third way can be found in the form of magazines: there are a great many that specialize in the subject and even if the educational aspect is often less substantial than with the other methods, you’ll find a lot of short exercises, excerpts from well-known songs, and even news about your favorite musicians.
There are also often product reviews of the items used in the guitar world: guitars, amps, cords, tuners, strands, etc.
Magazines are an indispensable resource.
These magazines are not going to properly teach you how to play the guitar, but they don’t cost very much, they add something extra, and they’re a smart addition.
Learning to Play the Guitar on the Internet
Another method that’s more and more popular: the Internet.
But how do you navigate it? Today, it’s unthinkable to imagine a world without this fantastic tool. With the web, learning to play the guitar is made both fun and exciting through videos and other tutorials.
On the Internet, you will find numerous examples for whatever style of guitar you want to learn, with videos and educational lessons, soundtracks to accompany you as background music, and even online magazines.
The Internet is a fantastic tool for learning to play the guitar.
The problem with the Internet, and this is also it’s greatest advantage, is that you can find everything there, absolutely everything, the worst as well as the best: free videos, free classes, educational games, paid methods, sites for beginner guitarists, etc.
So you don’t get distracted and waste time in front of your screen, you need to know precisely what you’re looking for.
Don’t hesitate to consult several sites to cross-check information, to consult forums (maybe some other guitarists are facing the same struggles that you are?).
Learning to Play the Guitar with a Private Teacher
The last way to learn to play the guitar is surely the most traditional path but also the most effective: that’s guitar lessons with a teacher.
This can be done in a music school, conservatory, or at a cultural center, but it’s important that there’s a teacher and a student.
By taking private guitar lessons, you’ll benefit from a privileged relationship with your guitar teacher. You’ll be able to ask questions, such as: how do you play the guitar if you’re left-handed?
According to whichever style of guitar you want to learn, you’ll be able choose your teacher and enroll in a weekly course for a set cost.
There are lots advantages to this method of learning to play the guitar: progressive learning according to your evolution, corrections of your inevitable mistakes and bad habits, encouragement when things are going well but also when you face challenges or when you stagnate, continuous discussions about the instrument itself, the world of the guitar, and of music.
Private guitar lessons offer constant attention.
It’s true partnership that forms between you and your teacher, a trusting relationship based on the exchange of ideas that enrich both of you.
The inconvenience of this method of learning to play the guitar—because there are one or two—is that this comes at a not-insignificant cost.
Compared to the other methods that are free or more or less low-cost, private lessons with a teacher require you to dig in your pockets.
The other black spot is there’s not always a music teacher and especially not for the guitar near where you live, especially if you live in a small town.
It’s recommended that you look for small ads on the Internet, in music stores, in music schools, or simply consult a directory to find THE teacher for you.
As you can see, there are many ways to learn to play the guitar: between online courses, lessons with a teacher, or even the different methods you can find in magazines and other books, there’s something for everyone.
But you still have to do it intelligently! And that means finding the best combination to shape how you learn to play the guitar.
Like baking a cake, playing the guitar needs a good recipe.
The guitar, like all other musical instruments, isn’t learned via one single method; there are as many ways as there are students.
The guitar isn’t an easy instrument to learn if you don’t have the desire to become a good guitarist.
For those who simply want to strum a few chords and impress your friends, there’s no problem, but if you want to truly master your instrument, you’ll have to take advantage of all of the options available to you.
Once you understand the guitar, its capabilities, the more you can train and the more you’ll know how to play, it’s as simple as that.
The Best Way to Learn to Play the Guitar
You should understand that the best path to learning to play the guitar is not usually the shortest.
A really good way to learn to play the guitar could be summarized like this: it makes the student a better guitarist, whereas a bad method makes him or her worse.
With a guitar teacher, for example, the student becomes a co-teacher, not waiting for answers to be hand-delivered, but finding them yourself, making effort, working on exercises, sharing what you’ve feel with your teacher.
A good guitar student must be able to create a coherent vision from different reference points in order to become an excellent guitarist.
With all of these methods, by practicing regularly, and by doing your best to progress, you should learn to play the guitar fairly quickly and with a solid base.
In just a few months, you should know how to play any song and understand the music and your instrument, and your passion for the guitar should be richer.
Develop good habits, stay motivated, and keep up hope—no matter what your guitar level!