The guitar, quite simply, is a wonderful instrument. Thanks, essentially, to the way the history of music has gone, the guitar has become one of the most common and most versatile means of making music all over the contemporary world. You’ll find it in every genre and style of music – from blues and jazz to folk, hip-hop, classical, metal, and pop – and you’ll even find it in the bedrooms and on the walls of people who have never given music a thought in their life. The guitar is iconic – iconic and ubiquitous.
A Caution for the Beginner Guitar Player
This can be both a blessing and a curse for those seeking to learn how to play the guitar. A curse because, firstly, as a lot of people know a couple of chords, a lot of people think they can teach the instrument. Watch out, then, for the less good teacher.
Secondly, the market is saturated with terrible instruments that don’t really do what they are supposed to do: namely, to support a budding guitarist to become the best musician that he or she can. A second lesson, then: choose an instrument wisely as if your guitar isn’t playable, you’re never going to want to tune up and play those riffs, licks, and chord progressions.
However, remember, the ubiquity of guitars and guitarists is also a blessing. The UK, to be honest, is full of very good and very professional musicians, who are experienced in teaching and experienced in making, recording, and performing music. If you choose to start learning to play the guitar, you will be welcomed into a huge community of very lovely and supportive people. You’ll also have plenty of role models to look up to.
There are tremendous, multidimensional benefits to learning how to sing or play a musical instrument. It is a holistic activity which takes the participant on an emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual journey. Some specific reasons to learn music are that it:-
- elevates mood
- enables self-expression
- sharpens the senses
- connects you with your emotions, your humanity and your fellow humans
- develops exquisite coordination
- requires personal skills such as perseverance, organisation, determination, discipline…
- provides endless social outlets
- relieves stress
- increases memory capacity
- provides a sense of achievement
- puts you in contact with cultural history
- and more…
Learning to Play Guitar in the UK
Anyway, without further ado, we have compiled a list of the best options – for beginners, intermediate players, and advanced musicians – to learn the guitar across the UK. The big cities have a wealth of opportunities, for listening to live music, for taking your very first guitar lesson, or for progressing further in your musicianship. Whatever your age or your preferred musical styles, and whatever you want to get out of your instrument, you’ll find the place to achieve those goals right here.
Dive in, tune-up, and we’ll have you strumming along to your favourite guitar songs or jamming with your mates in no time at all. Pay attention, because you will find links to in-depth articles on each city in each section. Let’s go!
Learn the Guitar in London
London is a great place to learn anything, boasting as it does world-class facilities in nearly every field. For music, you’ll find some of the most prestigious educational institutions on the planet, live music venues to take your breath away, shops selling all of the gear you could possibly imagine, and some of the most patients, dedicated, and professional teachers on the planet – for people of any age.
Let’s take a closer look at what the big city can offer for learning guitar – from the electric guitar to the acoustic, the classical guitar, the banjo, the ukulele, and even the mandolin.
Found out more about guitar lessons in London in our dedicated article!
Get Your Kids Playing the Guitar
If you are the parents of young, musically enthusiastic children, London is a fantastic place to be.
The Greenwich Music School, for example, is a musical education centre famous for its attention to the younger musicians of London – with classes offered to kids as young as three. Here, the wee ones will make a racket, learn the fundamental aspects of rhythm, and have a lot of fun in group playing.
For the older kids, in this charity based in Greenwich and Charlton, you’ll find instrument-specific music lessons – including the guitar – as well as ensembles and individual classes. (Adults can learn here too!)
Further and Higher Guitar Education
As we know, London has some of the most well-regarded music schools and conservatoires in the UK and in the world. The Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama are probably the best known and, in you attend these schools, you can be sure that your musicianship will flourish.
Other options, which aren’t as academically prestigious, but which will nonetheless prepare you for a professional career in the music industry, include the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance and Tech Music School. These offer full-time diplomas and degrees in music production, music business, or music tech, as well as in musical instruments. You will probably be studying more contemporary music than classical if that’s what you’d prefer.
It’s worth pointing out that these institutions are not designed for beginners. They are, rather, intended for careers in music.
A Pick of the Best Guitar Tutors
For everyone else living in London looking for more casual lessons in guitar playing, the options are almost impossible to account for in their entirety – and they change depending on where exactly you live.
If you live in north London, you might want to try the City Academy London, which offers professional teaching in hundreds of different arts courses. For those slap-bang in the centre, the London Guitar Institute might work well. For everyone else, Hawi Gondwe’s Guitar Lessons London might be a great place to start – as they have tutors across the city willing to travel to you.
And for those with specific interests, the Cecil Sharp House offers dedicated folk guitar classes, whilst Flamenco Express provides – you guessed it – classes in flamenco guitar.
Find Guitar Tuition in Birmingham
Birmingham is another city in which you can hardly walk ten minutes without bumping into a guitar instructor. Depending on your location, the options will vary a little. However, there are plenty of tutors willing to travel to your home – and you may want to have a look at the options available on Superprof (there are twenty-one guitar tutors that use the site in Birmingham alone!).
Find a dedicated article on guitar lessons in Birmingham on our site too!
Some of Birmingham’s Top Tutors
There are prestigious guitar tutors available in every corner of Birmingham – you just need to know where to look. And if private tuition is your thing, you might find this the best option.
Zaid Crowe, Steve Layton Guitar, and Rockstar Guitar Tuition are all companies in Birmingham offering private tuition, in their private home studios, at your own place, or over Skype. Each will design their lessons around your needs and preferred styles of music (that’s the benefit of private tuition!) and will guide you through academic grades if you would like, or else will show you everything from chord work, improvisation, and ear training.
Take a Guitar Exam in Birmingham
If music exams are what you want to do – something recommended for those who want to keep track of their progression and achievements – you may want to find a music school endorsed by the exam boards themselves.
The Progress Music Academy, in the heart of town, is a good option for this – if you want to play more contemporary than classical – as they are the only registered Trinity Rock and Pop exam centre in the city. The Academy itself can train you towards these exams.
Otherwise, you could try the Birmingham Music School which, endorsed by the instrument brand, Yahama, provides training towards graded examinations too.
Fun Guitar Classes for Adults and Kids
Otherwise, what else? For kids, the Strings Club promises an enjoyable musical experience. Aimed at children between the ages of four and eleven, the Club runs musical holiday camps. This is both a great learning opportunity for your children and a reliable place for their supervision when you are at work.
For adults, the Birmingham Adult Education Service runs evening classes at beginner and intermediate levels. Whilst you won’t get a qualification, they do provide innovative teaching methods – in which you are encouraged to record yourself playing and produce your own textbook. So, it’s not only the kids that can have fun.
The Best Guitar Courses and Classes in Manchester
The UK’s home of all things cool – and the secret musical capital of England – Manchester has an awful lot to offer in terms of music education. With an array of super-qualified private tutors and a host of music schools for casual learning or professional or academic qualifications, you’re not going to be let down by the opportunities available.
Find out more in our article on guitar lessons in Manchester!
Guitar Professionals in Manchester
The city is home to lots of performing and recording musicians who double up as teachers in their spare time. As such, they are often supremely competent, with heaps of experience teaching as well as playing in the real world.
Michael Woodward, Adam Smithson, Michael Banfield, and Andy Rees are all DBS-registered guitar tutors who run their own guitar teaching businesses in the city. Whilst some only work from their home studios, others are willing to travel. You’ll probably find, in honesty, that you are more likely to enjoy your lessons if it is not a nightmare to get back and forth from lessons.
You can also find plenty of guitar tutors (thirty-six, to be precise!) in Manchester on Superprof, the tutoring platform that connects students to tutors.
Join a Social Guitar Class
If learning in a group is more your thing, check out Maunder’s School of Popular Music, a school teaching guitar, piano, drums, singing, as well as music theory. They offer private lessons or group classes, and there is a fun thing where you can attend a band workshop with those with whom you most like making music.
The Manchester Guitar Academy, a school run by academic musicians, runs one-to-one lessons and musical ensembles. They strongly encourage regular performances, which is an essential part of the musician’s art.
Join a Guitar School in Leeds
Yes, Leeds is a city known for its considerable output of edgy indie bands. But almost more importantly – for our purposes here at least – it boasts a broad variety of music schools, for both academic and recreational learning. There are some nice local initiatives and some quite prestigious music schools too, so whatever your flavour, the city’s got you covered.
Check out our article on guitar lessons in Leeds for more!
Flamenco Guitar, in Spanish … Anyone?
The breadth of Leeds’s musical education scene will be apparent to any local. But if you want to learn something quite specific there is the opportunity to do that too. As an example, Leeds’s Instituto Cervantes – the global organisation for the promotion of Spanish culture – runs flamenco guitar classes. You can also take them in Spanish, so to practise a second language whilst you’re doing it.
Classes and Courses for All Ages
If that’s not quite your cup of tea, you can try Roundhay Music, a not-for-profit organisation offering lessons in lots of different instruments and lots of different musical styles. They run ensembles and group workshops as well as individual classes and in-school sessions. They are a real asset to their community.
Otherwise, the North Leeds Music Centre might be a little more convenient. With students ranging from the age of five to eighty, the Saturday morning workshops are a wonder to behold.
Get Yourself a Guitar Teacher in Glasgow
If Manchester wasn’t in the picture, Glasgow would have the highest number of gigs per capita in the UK. But, as the biggest city in Scotland, there is no better place to learn guitar than here. From dedicated and diverse music teachers to proper Scottish folk music, you can literally learn anything you want.
Our guide to guitar lessons in Glasgow might be helpful for you too!
Glasgow’s Guitar Teachers
From the Glasgow Guitar Studio in the Southside to Fraser Murray in the West End, Glasgow is full of individual teachers qualified to teach you the guitar. Wendy Leckerman of the Glasgow Guitar Studio has taught for over thirty years, and she specialises in children’s education. If you’re more of a metalhead, try Frets on Fire, a dedicated rock and metal guitar education organisation.
Otherwise, try Superprof, where you can find nearly thirty guitar tutors in Glasgow!
Playing Traditional and Local
GWF is a standard-bearer for traditional Scottish music education in Glasgow. If you want to play at ceilidhs, or if you want to be able to play music without looking at the notation, this might be the place for you, as they combine age-old teaching methods with ensemble playing and a lot of fun.