The Seven Best Sources For Basic Guitar Lessons And Learning Techniques
The seven best sources for basic guitar lessons and learning techniques
There are two ways of learning anything, and they’re not the hard way or the easy way, nor are they my way or the highway. No, they’re teach yourself, or get a teacher.
Let’s look at teachers first. They come in four guises, and some are more effective than others. The more effective, the more expensive–usually.
The cheapest and possibly least effective teacher you can get is probably a friend. I don’t say that to be disrespectful to anyone’s playing abilities, but simply to point out that unless that friend plays by the book, and is a qualified teacher, you’ll probably pick up any bad habits they have. They’re also not likely to be available on a regular enough basis, and may either become impatient with you when you don’t pick things up fast enough, or may just let things slide, allowing you to form bad habits of your own. The cost is good, though–usually free.
You may be fortunate enough to be still at school and have guitar lessons available there, either for free or at a greatly subsidised rate. If so, take them. Your teacher will be qualified, lessons will be regular, you’ll have fellow pupils you know to swap notes with outside of lessons (and maybe even get together to play with! ).
Night school is the next most effective and cheap method. It’s almost exactly like school, except you have to make the effort to get there after a day’s work. That usually means you’ll have other things going on in your life–things that may intrude. Not only that, your classes will probably be larger, so you may have less input about what you want to learn. The cost will be very reasonable, though, when worked out as an hourly rate.
A professional teacher is the most expensive option. A good one will bring out the best in you, but will get frustrated if you don’t practice. (Classical guitar teachers will encourage you to take grades, because their reputation grows according to how many people they get to pass). If you have the money, the time, and are prepared to put the work in, this is one of the most effective routes to take, because they’ll correct any bad habits, and sessions are one-to-one.
If you can’t afford a professional teacher, and you don’t have night school lessons or a friend handy, the second option is to teach yourself. There are three possible options,
You can buy guitar tutors fairly cheaply at most guitar shops, or online. They used to come in book form, but increasingly incorporate CDs and DVDs to take you through the basics. There’s a one-off cost, non-refundable, and you progress at your own pace.
Once you’ve got the basics together, you might decide the best way to teach yourself is to learn to play standards by ear. So you get out your favourite songs, listen to them over and over, work out the chords and lead work, then play. The advantage of this method is that it’ll give you confidence, and if you mess up, no one will know. It’s also cheap–presumably you’ve already paid for the music.
(Of course, there are fan sites online where you can download lyrics and sheet music to your favourite songs, thus saving you the time of doing it yourself. This can be handy. Beatles songs, in particular, use some rather ingenious chord sequences, and you might have difficulty working them out for yourself. )
Finally, there’s the online course. For the cost of a single live lesson with a professional teacher you can get a DVD with a course aimed at various levels of proficiency. The product usually comes with a money-back guarantee, too, which is not true of the other methods. Another advantage is that you can learn whenever is convenient for you–teachers are usually available only at certain times of the day.
So there you have it–the seven basic guitar lessons sources: a friend, school lessons, night school, a professional teacher, a book or course, learning by ear, or an online course.
Which is best?
Depends on how serious you are, how much time you can devote to practice, and what you want to achieve.
If you’re just starting out, it might be best to go with the least expensive route. That way, if you don’t persevere, you haven’t lost much.
If you do, though , and you want to get really good, you’ll eventually want to consider a professional teacher.
Wherever you want your journey to take you, I hope you get there and have fun travelling!