In theory, taking guitar lessons and learning how to play the guitar are meant to enable you to know how to play this instrument, aren't they?
Well, yeah - you'd reckon so. You'd expect that one day, you'd have the potential of the fretboard at your fingertips, ready to play epic guitar solos and guitar tricks, or else into steady rhythm guitar with nice chord progressions.
However, the objectives of guitar lessons as such are not always very clear and vary from one student to another. It's all in that expression, 'one day', which honestly is a little too imprecise to be very useful to either the beginner guitar player or the expert blues guitar, or jazz guitar, player.
Indeed, some will prefer to take courses to learn just the basics of the instrument - the tablature and power chords you need for simple rock guitar, say - while others will have the medium or long term goal of becoming a real professional guitarist and go further into the learning.
Similarly, a budding guitarist will not have the same requirements, the same desires, the same objectives as an already seasoned guitarist or even as a professional. Some will want to learn the basics of the guitar and take the opportunity to learn about music theory - the major scale, the pentatonic, and all that jazz - while others want to replay their favorite songs and tracks and others still want to refine a style, open up to other horizons.
There are many examples and we could refer to dozens and dozens of them. But the point we're trying to make is a very simple one: if you are going to enjoy the benefits of guitar instruction - whether electric guitar lessons or classical guitar lessons - you are going to have be clear with yourself, and with your teacher, what exactly it is you want to achieve. This applies also with guitar lessons for beginners.
But before we get talking about the various main objectives of guitar lessons, you need to know that there are different types of guitar lessons. What are they?
Depending on which course you choose, your goal will be different.
The Diversity of Guitar Lessons
Each type of guitar course induces a specific learning, with a different pedagogy and methodology but also with different goals. Beginner guitar lessons are fairly varied in their teaching - but each will give you songs to play and the odd guitar chord to learn! Looking for your children? Find online guitar lessons for kids.
Going to a Music School to Learn How to Play the Guitar
If you want to go to a music school or conservatoire, guitar lessons generally follow a rather rigid methodology, in the sense that the teacher does not necessarily adapt to your needs or your expectations.
The highly supervised program varies, however, depending on the age and level of each musician apprentice.
Both an advantage and disadvantage of these courses is their academic aspect, depending on what you want. I you decide to go to the conservatoire where the courses span over the years, in the form of a curricula with auditions, exams, diplomas, you'll need to be quite serious about the whole thing.
The advantages of this type of music course are the opportunities to acquire a general vision about music and about guitars and the structure it will bring you. It won't just be about playing guitar songs and blues licks - but rather a more intense theoretical exercise. This can be sometimes to the detriment of the pleasure you get from the instrument itself.
Cultural Associations and Centers to Learn Guitar
Other places such as cultural associations or centers have a broader method of teaching the guitar.
These places are generally less strict, less scholastic and offer a learning of the guitar with a more playful, more recreational aim of the guitar. Here you may well practice with ear training and guitar techniques, but you'll also just rock out and play songs by Clapton and other musicians.
One of the advantages is that they are true guitar professionals, real passionate people who want to pass on this passion and offer group lessons.
Private Lessons to Learn How to Play Guitar
Finally, the other alternative is the private lesson with an independent teacher: with such teaching, you will be able to follow many different objectives according to your level and according to your teacher's qualifications and experiences.
Private lessons are for all guitar players, whether you are a beginner, have been playing guitar for years, or are a professional.
The advantage of these guitar lessons is to be able to create a real link between the guitar teacher and the student. The relationship is not merely pedagogical learning of music and guitar training but also a real relation made of exchange and sharing about a common passion: guitar and music.
You can already see: depending on the type of guitar lesson, depending on your personal investment and how much time you are ready to take, you will sometimes concentrate on musical training, sometimes on the instrument, or on learning various musical styles.
The Purpose and Objectives of Taking Guitar Lessons
Guitar lessons have different purposes, they can either oppose each other or complement each other.
First, the main objective of guitar lessons is to acquire the theoretical bases but also practical techniques in music theory and in the instrument you're playing - the guitar.
Once you have learned the basics about guitars, once you know how to handle it, how to play your first major and minor chords, and mostly, how to have a good sound on your barre chords, you can be sure that you will memorize them for life.
But just as for any learning that requires from you to practice, it is necessary to consolidate your knowledge, to discover new techniques, to get up to date, to broaden your musical culture.
Depending on how you've decided to learn how to play the guitar, the teacher can advise you or guide you in the best way to improve and boost your guitar playing. The objectives of a guitar class can be very varied. We could think of, for instance, that you're playing:
- To learn how to play the guitar faster
- To learn how to do improvisations on the guitar
- To play with a band
Developing your General Knowledge
The other main objective is that you will have the opportunity to develop and improve certain techniques: some guitarists want to learn to play faster, others want to deepen their knowledge in music theory, others want to try out improvisation or attempting more difficult pieces.
Guitar lessons are there for you: with the help of a professional, you will be able to seriously develop your skills and improve your game, or broaden your knowledge about the guitar universe.
The Importance of Setting Goals for Yourself
Obviously, every person has different reasons to learn the guitar. But whatever happens, it is important to be able to define goals to reach, levels to cross, to always keep progressing in guitar.
Having a Structured Way of Working
It is only by setting medium or long term goals for yourself that you will be able to overcome any obstacles, to improve yourself and to progress.
Some will want to learn on a day-to-day basis by trying to play a song as soon as possible. But there is a strong probability that they will miss some techniques or other musical knowledge.
By working with a deadline, having a goal to achieve, this shapes your motivation, you work more assiduously, in a more structured way.
Having Realistic and Achievable Goals
To succeed in learning how to play the guitar, to improve your knowledge, to progress step by step in an efficient way, it is essential to set yourself realistic goals.
Indeed, if you want to become the new Satriani or the Jimi Hendrix of the 21st century in just six months, you are likely to be discouraged (because you are probably going to fail). The ultimate consequence will simply be that you'll tend to abandon straight away to learn how to play the guitar - and cease to be a guitar player!
Begin by studying things that are at your level: if you are a beginner, learn your scales, major chords (major, minor, seventh chords, harmonics, etc.), work out your fingerpicking and dexterity, and progress slowly but surely.
Then, go to the next level, progressively. Take your time, learn about your guitar, learn how to tune it and how it sounds best. Ask your guitar instructor, if you have one, to help you out in the beginning, but also try to tune your guitar yourself to get to really understand how it works.
If you are already experienced in guitar practice, see with a teacher what your level is, ask him what you can learn more about and talk to him about your expectations, your desires so to adapt to your level.
Setting Goals on the Guitar Allows You to Structure Your Progression
Having realistic goals allows you to keep your feet on the ground and progress in a concrete and sustained way.
For example, you can set goals such as:
- Being able to play with a faster tempo. This'll require speed exercises.
- Succeeding in playing a particular solo - by playing it three times without it being disappointing
- Doing an arpeggio exercise for 5 minutes, once looking at the strings, another time without looking at them.
- Alternate several barred chords by making them resonate for two seconds each.
The examples are endless, the important thing is to understand that we must realize concrete and possible things.
Keep a Small Notebook around during Your Guitar Lessons
The idea is quite stupid. However, if you set the objectives you've decided on with the corresponding dates - whether in a small notebook or by making an Excel sheet on your computer or tablet - you will be able to follow your progress (and quickly confirm or not your motivation).
By going back to this small notebook every week, you will gradually get up to date by filling it in with new performances.
The key to progressing on the guitar is being organized, motivated, patient and if you have a good structure to lead you, if you know how to show yourself organized, you will improve significantly without even realizing it.
Having goals on the guitar is a step towards learning new techniques and new pieces that were seemingly impossible to you before.
Everyone Has Their Own Goals for Guitar Lessons!
There are different ways of considering guitar lessons depending on which goals you set.
Some want to replay the greatest hits of their favorite musicians, others just want to learn the guitar, others still want to learn a particular technique and others simply want to relax by playing an instrument that speaks to them.
There are many reasons because the objectives are also different: the goals vary according to the tastes, the desires of the moment and the ambitions of each student.
Indeed, it is the guitarist who, finally, chooses what suits him according to what he feels and wants.
His choices will condition his method of how he is playing and learning the guitar because the amount of work will not be the same, nor the time devoted to learning and the theory.
Playing guitar is an artistic way of expressing oneself, whether in a group or alone: it allows one to open up one's artistic horizon, to broaden one's knowledge, to "speak" via the music of what one feels to alleviate personal tensions, and, in short, to flourish.
The essential thing is that the practice of the guitar is and remains a pleasure and a moment of sharing: it is necessary to remain aware of this essential notion which will help you overcome all the obstacles inherent to each learning, concerning guitar or anything else, really.
In short, to be a good guitar player, whether it's on an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar, whether you've just started as a beginner or have been strumming and playing around for some time, think about why you're playing the guitar and what motivates you to help you set your goals. Then work on your chord progression, your strumming patterns, licks and fingerstyle and maybe you're guitar method will be so good you'll be up for being a guitar teacher yourself!