Become The Guitar Player You Always Wanted To Be
PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT BALMER PHOTOGRAPHY
If your answer to any of the above questions is YES, you need an experienced teacher who knows how to help you meet your playing challenges and coach you to success...
At one time or another I faced all of the above frustrations myself, so I know how it feels to know where you want to be but not knowing how to get there. Fortunately, with the guidance of an experienced teacher you can save yourself the pain and frustration of trying to figure things out on your own.
My name's Craig, and I teach and train guitar players in Huntingdonshire (specialising in rock, blues and metal styles). For nearly 20 years I have helped hundreds of guitar players like you learn their favourite songs, become better improvisers, understand how music works, write their own songs, join bands, overcome nagging technique problems, and turn from shy, awkward players into confident musicians.
‘I was using books and videos, and found you can only go so far with those because there's no interaction. There's no one to watch what you're doing, to point out mistakes and poor technique, and also if you don't understand something there's no one there to ask, to clarify things, so I think having a teacher makes it a lot easier.
‘After trying with books and videos, I felt I was not really making any progress and decided to look for a teacher. I was very impressed by Craig's approach and signed up for his school's acoustic program... It was immediately apparent that having a teacher is so much better than trying to teach yourself.’
‘My playing was limited to a few riffs that I'd learned on Youtube... I was thinking of spending thousands of pounds on a guitar but I sat there in the guitar shop with it and thought, I can't play this. I can play a few riffs but that doesn't justify spending that much money. So I thought, if I'm going to spend that much on a guitar I should spend that much on lessons, and so far it's paying off massively.’
‘There was a solo I'd been trying to play for years. Craig just changed my hand position and I was able to play it almost instantly. Craig could look at something and instantly say “try this”, and you'd try it and all of a sudden it worked. I can't believe I couldn't figure it out for myself, but that's why you go for a guitar teacher... to try things that I would have avoided... which is what you need to do to get better.’
‘Finally, I see the fretboard as I've always wanted to - I can see where notes are and feel where a melody fits - the Holy Grail of unlocking the fretboard.’
I commonly receive inquiries from guitar players who have become frustrated after trying to teach themselves (often for many years). With the advent of the Internet, many guitarists now reach for free resources like Youtube in order to try and grow as musicians, under the mistaken belief that it will save them time and money.
The problem with teaching oneself via Youtube, books or DVDs is that it’s just not effective. How can you be sure that you fully understand what you've learned and can integrate and apply it in your own music unless you have an ongoing dialogue with the tutor? Have you ever tried to teach yourself and found yourself jumping from one thing to another across a variety of media, unsure whether you're learning anything in the right order, or even whether what you're picking up is actually moving you towards your musical goals?
Self teaching often leads to gaps in knowledge, lack of momentum, and becoming overwhelmed with practice material, leading to stagnation and becoming stuck in a rut. Are you happy learning slowly by trial-and-error or do you want to learn fast under purposeful direction?
DVDs and the Internet can be valuable aids to playing and certainly have their place but such resources can never be a substitute for the continual guidance and support of an in-person teacher who regularly examines your technique and your practice pattern, and who understands what you want to achieve with your music. A good teacher also acts as a coach and mentor, supporting you and helping you to overcome the challenges you will inevitably confront as you continue your journey towards becoming a better musician.
After self-teaching, the worst road to learning guitar is taking lessons from a well-meaning but ineffectual friend or family member, or worse... an ineffective "professional" teacher. This can end up causing more frustration and take you even longer to progress. I have taken on students from time to time who have told me horror stories about their previous teachers. Maybe you too have experienced this?
Not only is this behaviour damaging to the student’s progress, in some cases it drives the student into quitting altogether.
Be wary of choosing a teacher based purely on his/her location and/or price, since it may cost you more money in the long run and take you longer to reach your goals than investing a little more in a quality, experienced educator. Always look for student testimonials on the teacher's site or in his/her literature... Better still, get some first-hand referrals from his/her other students.
Poor study environment
Another reason for students not making effective progress is practicing in a less than ideal environment. For a student to learn effectively, there should be no distractions such as TV, young children or pets playing nearby, or other potential disturbances. Therefore, studying at a designated premises set up for the task is far better for concentrated learning than doing so in your own home, unless you can be sure of having privacy and time to yourself.
The problem with picking up bits and pieces of guitar technique here and there from friends, the Internet or other media is that it often leads to the situation of trying to run before you can walk. You will get where you want to go faster if you learn things in the right order, and an experienced guitar teacher can show you this.
How do you ask a DVD or a book to explain in detail something that's confusing you? Can you ask the guy you're watching on Youtube to slow down and show you exactly what he's doing? This is one of the main benefits of having a live teacher in the room with you.
A huge advantage of taking lessons from an experienced guitar teacher is being given regular encouragement to move forward with your guitar playing. Having someone there to help motivate you when you feel like giving up is the primary reason that students who learn with a teacher prosper and continue to develop far longer than those that have no such support to keep them motivated.
Studying for an hour a week won't by itself make you a better guitar player. It's how you spend the time between lessons that really counts, and this is where a good teacher makes all the difference. If you know what to practice, and for how often, you cannot fail to improve.... but is Youtube going to help you figure that out?
You could spend months or even years wasting time and money on DVDs, online courses and other ineffective guitar methods promising the ultimate short cut to great guitar playing. There is so much (mis)information around these days that it can be very hard to know what you should be doing to move forward, whilst avoiding the many trial-and-error pitfalls which could actually slow your progress or worse still, put you off guitar for life. A good teacher will deliver exactly the information you need, when you need it.