In order to know how to play the guitar – whether to play songs you love, to understand guitar music properly, to become a famous blues guitar or jazz guitar player, or to improvisation or guitar solos – there aren’t unlimited ways to do so. You pretty much have to take guitar lessons to learn how to play the guitar.
Even the greatest musicians who call themselves self-taught (the real ones are not so numerous) have passed at least once in their life through a guitar lesson. A guitar instructor doesn’t necessarily have to be someone whom you pay for a guitar course, or someone that gives you guitar lessons for beginners. But the chances that these people didn’t have any sort of guitar instruction at all seems unlikely. It’s really just something they say to sound rad.
Regardless of the edgy reputation of someone who taught themselves the fretboard and guitar tricks, guitar lessons bring many good things: learning guitar techniques such as fingerstyle, ear training, and rhythm guitar, learning news songs to play and love, developing your blues licks and blues guitar and opening your mind to new kinds of music styles.
If you want to learn to play guitar it’s going to be more than just strumming guitar songs and playing a couple barre chords.
There is more to a guitar lesson than just strumming
On the personal level, guitar lessons also have many benefits: personal development, sharing a passion, expressing one’s personality, enjoying playing pieces that one loves. You can explore the range of styles that rock guitar offers, or the different licks of country guitar, metal guitar, or classical guitar.
To take guitar lessons with an private independent teacher is to be able to accomplish all of this, it is to have a passionate professional who answers your expectations, your desires and that adapts to your level.
Not only will he explain and guide you to learn about the guitar (practical and theoretical exercises), but he will also be present to make you hear and play other styles, another type of music to which you wouldn’t have thought and didn’t expect.
The best guitar teacher be able to match their knowledge with your particular aims and preferences, whether that’s in beginner guitar lessons, advanced electric guitar lessons, or even guitar lessons online.
By taking private lessons, you share a common passion, a singular universe.
But how best to use these particular guitar lessons? Like, how to actually make the most of them once you are in them? So many kids start guitar school but soon give up, or end up cycling through lots of different guitar teachers.
Why is this? (Spoiler: It’s pretty much because they don’t do enough guitar practice.)
The benefit of taking private guitar lessons is that whatever your method, whoever your guitar teacher, he will leave you deep learning in the ways to tame your guitar.
Indeed, private lessons are there to help you develop your skills – whether in arpeggio, power chords, or fingerpicking – to create new habits that you will keep all your life as a guitarist.
If you adopt good habits and the right movements, then you will be able to play all styles of music. If not, you will at some point or another stagnate and you will never know how to play the guitar properly.
Taking individual private classes helps you to acquire a solid foundation, both theoretical and practical – and the new guitar student should seek as best they can to make this foundation as solid as possible.
To maintain this new learning and always have the right reflexes, good movements of the right or left hand, prepare your private lessons in advance, train at home or with friends. Practicing with a metronome to do your basic exercises can be a great way to progress between two classes.
Do not hesitate to repeat the exercises you have seen with your guitar teacher, rework them slowly and then increase the tempo.
Don’t forget one thing: it is with regularity and constancy, with repetition and patience, that your guitar skills will get better and that you’ll be able to show progress.
That should be your main objective in learning to play the guitar!
Then, if you feel comfortable with what the teacher proposes to work on, do not hesitate to talk to him about it: review your level together (as a professional, he will know how to easily evaluate yours) and adjust your guitar classes depending to that and also according to your desires.
Ask your teacher for sheets of music to work in the style of music you like, ask him if there are typical exercises to perform at home such as different scales: major scale, minor scale, pentatonic scale, blues range (which is a pentatonic scale with a blues note), seventh chords, various modes, and so on.
There may also be pieces that are more or less simple (depending on your level) that may be within your reach and that may help you improve or even surpass yourself.
Obviously for a guitar lesson to be as interesting as possible, you have to make sure to be always on time, that’s a minimum.
Not being late will highlight your respect for your teacher who is present to pass on a passion and feed yours, but it is also a pledge of commitment to music and to learning how to play guitar.
Your teacher can show you how to tune your guitar, recognize and change the different parts of the guitar but you need to show up to classes with all your gear.
A good guitar teacher will show you how to maintain your guitar.
It sounds a bit trivial but your teacher is not the one who has to carry your exercises, your scores, your chord charts or your tabs, let alone the material to play the guitar like a capo, spare strings or picks.
For guitar lessons to be always interesting, so that they always bring something new to you, you must be an actor in your lessons and not just endure them.
It is at the level of your relationship with the guitar teacher that everything is going to be played: it is up to you to nourish your relationship, to seek his opinion, to ask him about possible exercises to work on, tracks he can advise, pieces to listen to so as to enrich your musical culture, etc.
The more you ask your teacher, the more he will be happy to help you and guide you on your way to develop your taste for the guitar.
You have a common passion so talk about it, feed it, discuss about the musical news with him, ask him his opinion on the playing techniques of so and so, on the possible difficulties to play such a piece.
Given your enthusiasm and your investment, the teacher (who most of the time comes to your home) will not be reluctant to share information to please you.
Obviously, your private guitar lessons do not stop once the class time is over. Before the class ends, begin by defining what the next one will be like, determine your teacher’s expectations.
Do we have to come back to specific points? A picking technique to rework, a placement of fingers on the neck to adjust? A chord sequence or a solo to redo so that it becomes more fluid?
During your guitar lesson, your teacher certainly had to correct you, give you tricks to perform some technique or advise you to play a certain scale or even try yourself at a new piece.
Don’t wait for days to pass between your last lesson and the next one and repeat as soon as possible what was said and done in the previous course.
Your memory will still be fresh, the instructions still present to your mind.
In addition, when you are at home, you can also prepare for the next lesson. If you find that it is difficult playing a song, if you can not make your harmonics more fluid, more natural by performing the arpeggios requested, write it down somewhere. Try this in a small exercise book that you always keep with you, in a small notebook that you will store in the guitar cover or in a memo on your smartphone.
The important thing is to not let anything be forgotten and, then, to speak to your teacher. This is how your guitar lesson will be successful and how you will come out of it having learned something new.
The more you talk to your teacher, the more you will discuss your difficulties, the more the teacher will know how to adapt his class so that you bring out the best of yourself.
Finally, you can complete your learning with other resources.
Obviously, with the Internet, there are dozens and dozens of possibilities to help you play the guitar.
The internet is a revolutionary tool that can be a great support in learning how to play the guitar – but you’ll need to know how to use it!
No need to re-listen to the songs note by note to decipher them anymore! Today, the videos and the tutorials of the many helpers online offer very sharp exercises and that are, at the same time, accessible for the general public.
Many websites offer quality training and instructional videos. You can find for example:
Take guitar lessons anywhere you go!
Printed books are also very enriching (and you can even find most of them as ebooks if that better suits you).
Try Jon Chappell’s “Guitar for Dummies”, Roger Evans’s “Guitar Without a Teacher”, or “How to Begin the Guitar” by Thierry Carpentier.
Other sites and books also offer to learn theory with a pedagogical method, with exercises online.
As you can see, guitar lessons are a real complement to the practice and handling of the instrument. But they are also a great opportunity to enrich your musical culture and to broaden your horizon by discovering other styles of music.
Set yourself the goals of your guitar class and find the best teacher for your guitar lessons!
It is the opportunity to share a passion with a professional who wants to transmit knowledge and a science both in music theory and in practical know-how.