Whether you play electric or acoustic guitar, classical, rock, blues, jazz, whatever–you need a teacher. Yeah, you can futz along online and “teach” yourself. Excellent online guitar learning sites like Jamplay.com and guitarjamz.com, etc., are great resources. I’m not knocking them at all. They have their place in your progression toward guitar hero status. But in order to fully maximize your practice time and really become the guitarist you should be, having a guitar teacher as part of your guitar learning is critical. Here are a few good reasons to get a good guitar instructor:
Having someone there to tell you, right then, what you are doing wrong then watch as you try to correct it is the best way to learn. Play a chord that sounds bad, make corrections, do it again. Sure, I can go online and find any song I want to learn. The tab is there. But what if I sit down to play and my hand position is wrong. A guitar teacher can make a ton of small corrections early on that will give you a good foundation for your guitar future.
That’s the one thing that makes using online sources only such a problem: there’s no one there to listen and tell you what needs improvement.
Setting your Practice Schedule
Just about as critical as feedback is having an experienced teacher set your practice schedule. Your teacher knows your level, and knows where you are going as a guitarist so can tailor a schedule to suit your style. Making decisions about what to practice without a teacher, sort of in a vaccuum, is difficult. I want to learn how to play classic rock so I’m going to learn me some minor pentatonic scales. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Avoiding Bad Habits
Often you’ll hear guitar players say with pride that they are “self taught”. This is fine and dandy, but usually it’s the self taught guys that have developed bad guitar habits that will hamper their ability to reach higher levels of proficiency later down the line.
Aspiring young guitarists are especially impatient. Early on, when you are practicing open chords in the first position all day and you can’t even play easy songs, a lot of people hang it up. A good guitar instructor can offer encouragement and help you to track your progress. You may not think you’ve progressed, but your teacher can tell if you’ve been practicing. You sit down and play something and your teacher can hear that you’ve been working hard, even if you can’t. This positive reinforcement is critical, especially for a newbie guitar player.
Good Ideas / Rut Busting
I get burned out playing guitar, especially after I’ve been practicing the same old scale until my fingers hurt. Having a guitar teacher there to suggest new things to learn is critical. So you are bored with the minor pentatonic scale? How about some Dicky Betts style major pentatonic licks to spark your interest in playing? Ocassionally it’s good to mix things up and a teacher can help you stay fresh.
Speeding Your Progress
If you want to reach your guitar goals faster, all of the above will help you get there far quicker than if you’d just slogged it out alone with no one to guide you along the way.
Got a great teacher who has helped you a lot? Or have you become a rock star all alone? Enlighten us in the comments section! –Dave