Can you imagine training to compete in your favorite sport in the Olympics? Naturally there would be years and years of hard work and training involved to reach that goal, but could you imagine trying to do all of that without a trainer to help you along the way? Someone who knows how to train you to become the best you can and save you years of frustration and failure. Many people approach playing the guitar the very same way. They go it alone with no trainer and struggle for years and are never fulfilled with their playing. Most of these people end up quitting, too. I know exactly what that’s like, I spent ten years trying to learn on my own and could’ve easily avoided a lot of frustration and improved much faster than I did.
Learning the guitar without a teacher is by far, the most challenging, most frustrating, and slowest way to learn the guitar. As Tom Hess put it, it’s like, “…an 8th grader saying he doesn’t need to go to school anymore because he thinks he has already learned what one needs to know in life.” Isn’t that crazy? I can’t imagine an 8th grader being able to thrive in life with such a limited education. Nor can I imagine an Olympic gold-medalist not having a trainer. Yet most guitar players think they can achieve grand results easily, with no guitar trainer, only to experience a huge drop in enthusiasm and motivation due to slow or no progress. It’s no surprise since they’re actively choosing to do things the hard way instead of the easier, faster, better way.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the greatest guitar players who’ve ever lived didn’t have a guitar teacher and they were successful, like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, BB King, and so on. So, most people think, “Well if they can do it, why can’t I?” Which is totally understandable, and yes, you can learn some things without a guitar teacher. But why would you try to learn the hard way, when it usually doesn’t work, when you can find a guitar teacher who can make this process so much easier and faster for you?
Allow me to propose three ways that a guitar teacher will help you progress faster in your playing. First, a teacher is there to train you on specific skills and techniques to help you improve; this kind of training cannot be done by yourself in your bedroom. Second, a teacher is there to coach you to reach your musical goals by taking the fastest route possible. Lastly, a teacher is going to remove all of the stress, frustration, ‘trial and error’, and slow progress common to teaching yourself.
When you attend a physical lesson, and have to play in front of a person who is concerned about helping you improve and achieve your goals, your chances of success are multiplied tenfold. A good guitar teacher should be there to learn about your musical goals and map out the fastest way to reach those goals. With this kind of experience and knowledge on your side to help you reach your goals you thereby avoid the common ‘trial and error’ approach and will be able to find fulfillment playing guitar instead of frustration.
The level of coaching found at guitar lessons with a good teacher is infinitely better than just about anything on the Internet. Some places on the Internet have labeled guitar lessons as places where you get “nasty attitude” for slow progress and not being able to “learn at your own pace.” Both of those accusations couldn’t be further from the truth! Any good guitar teacher will not have a “nasty attitude” and will teach every student at their own pace with personalized coaching. Coaching from someone who knows what to listen and look for is by far one of the most valuable benefits of taking guitar lessons.
Lastly, a good teacher will have a greater understanding of all the skills and techniques you need to know in order to reach your goals. Sure, there are books and videos and stuff all over the internet that can give you ideas, but knowing exactly what skill you need to know, and in what order, to progress fastest will help you more than learning random tricks that sound cool. One huge mistake that most new guitar players make is playing beyond their ability, trying to learn too advanced techniques too soon, and in the end, it only cripples their playing. But a good guitar teacher understands when you need to know specific techniques and skills in order to reach your goals fastest and can keep you challenged with things you need to play the way you want to play.
So, the choice is left for you to decide. Do you want to try to teach yourself guitar and become frustrated with not knowing what to do and slow progress? Or do you go out and find a good guitar teacher who is willing to help you reach your goals in the fastest, easiest, and simplest way possible? I wish that I had made that decision years ago when I started playing. So now I propose that you avoid all the trial and error I went through and take the easy route, get a great guitar teacher.
Brad Litton is a professional guitarist and teacher who owns The Rock Academy, offering the best guitar lessons in Vernal, Utah for students who want seriously fun results.