I didn’t start playing guitar until my freshman year of college. With some good fortune, my dad had a co-worker who offered to give me a few lessons. He quickly had me up and running within a couple sessions. We covered the basics: G, C, D, Em, and how to make a barre chord.
However, I quickly grew impatient and turned to hacking it out alone. I used music books and learned to play by ear without anyone to lean on. Although these methods helped me progress, I knew I was missing out on a lot.
I tried in-person lessons but needed help finding an instructor who matched my pace and style. Eventually, I discovered the CAGED system through the book series Fretboard Logic. Something clicked with me and that book, and I started to play some lead.
The internet began to explode right around the same time. With this new vehicle, a whole new world opened up. I signed up for Next Level Guitar and Guitar Tricks subscriptions as time passed.
However, as life got busier with work and starting a family, it became harder to balance everything. My subscriptions began to collect dust. Nowadays, I continue to learn through YouTube videos, picking up tips here and there.
Learning guitar has been a personal journey filled with trial and error. The key takeaway from my experience is finding a method that works for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different resources until you find what clicks. It may take time to find the right approach but stick with it. The reward will be worth the effort.
Finding the right instructor is crucial to your success if you want to learn to play guitar. With many options available, figuring out where to start can take time. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list to help you find the best guitar instruction method for YOU!
1. What is the instructor’s teaching style? This question can help determine if the instructor’s teaching style matches your learning preferences. For example, some instructors may focus more on music theory and technique, while others may prioritize playing songs and having fun.
2. What is the instructor’s experience teaching guitar? You may want to ask about the instructor’s teaching experience to understand their qualifications and expertise. You may also want to ask if they specialize in a particular style of guitar playing. Additionally, they have experience teaching students with similar learning needs or goals as you.
3. How does the instructor structure their lessons? It is essential to understand how the instructor structures their lessons and what you can expect to learn each week. Ask about the curriculum, how progress is tracked, and how much time is spent on each aspect of playing guitar (such as technique, theory, and songs).
4. How does the instructor provide feedback to students? Feedback is essential for progress, so you may ask how the instructor provides feedback to students. Do they provide feedback during lessons or after? Are there specific methods they use to help students improve their playing?
5. Does the instructor assign homework or practice exercises? Regular practice is critical to improving your guitar playing, so you may ask if the instructor assigns homework or practice exercises to help you progress between lessons.
6. How does the instructor handle students who struggle with certain aspects of playing guitar? This question can help you understand how the instructor handles students struggling with certain aspects of guitar playing. Do they provide extra help or resources? Do they adapt their teaching style to help students overcome challenges?
7. Does the instructor have references or reviews from past students? It can be helpful to ask for references or reviews from past students to get a sense of the instructor’s teaching style and effectiveness.
Asking these questions (and any others that come to mind) can help you determine if a potential guitar instructor matches your learning needs. Finding an instructor that fits your learning preferences and goals can maximize your learning and enjoyment of playing the guitar.
In-Person or Online
Another factor to consider when choosing a guitar instructor is whether to take in-person or online lessons. In-person lessons offer the benefit of face-to-face interaction and immediate feedback but may be more expensive and less flexible regarding scheduling. Online classes, on the other hand, offer more flexibility and can be more affordable but may provide a different level of interaction and feedback.
Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Online Instruction
It’s crucial to consider whether you prefer synchronous or asynchronous instruction when considering online teaching. Synchronous instruction involves live lessons with the instructor, while asynchronous education involves pre-recorded lessons you can access on your schedule.
Synchronous instruction offers the benefit of immediate feedback and interaction with the instructor but may need to be more flexible regarding scheduling. On the other hand, asynchronous instruction offers more flexibility but may provide a different level of interaction and feedback.
Online guitar instructors who have a following
- Justin Sandercoe (JustinGuitar): Justin Sandercoe is a British guitarist and teacher providing free guitar lessons on YouTube since 2006. His specialty is beginner to intermediate-level guitar lessons, covering various genres and styles.
- Marty Schwartz (Marty Music): Marty Schwartz is an American guitarist and teacher providing free guitar lessons on YouTube since 2008. His specialty is popular songs and classic rock, with lessons covering everything from the basics to advanced techniques.
- Andy Guitar: Andy Guitar is a British guitarist and teacher providing free guitar lessons on YouTube since 2012. His specialty is a beginner to intermediate-level guitar lessons, focusing on acoustic guitar and popular songs.
- Paul Davids: Paul Davids is a Dutch guitarist and teacher providing free guitar lessons on YouTube since 2015. His specialty is intermediate to advanced-level guitar lessons, focusing on techniques such as fingerstyle, hybrid picking, and alternate tunings.
- Tomo Fujita: Tomo Fujita is a Japanese-American guitarist and teacher providing free guitar lessons on YouTube since 2009. His specialty is blues and soul guitar, with lessons covering everything from basic techniques to advanced improvisation.
One of my favorites is Steve Stein, known for his comprehensive lessons and straightforward teaching style. He has been providing free guitar lessons on YouTube since 2008, and his channel, GuitarZoom, has over 1 million subscribers.
In addition to his free YouTube lessons, Steve Stein offers paid courses and membership programs through his website, GuitarZoom.com. These programs provide more structured instruction and personalized feedback, with options for learners of all levels.
First, Steve’s teaching style emphasizes the importance of practice and consistency. Next, he believes in developing a solid foundation of music theory and technique. Lastly, his lessons are designed to be accessible to learners of all skill levels, focusing on building skills and confidence over time.
These instructors have built a large following on YouTube by providing high-quality guitar lessons for free. While they may offer a different level of personalized instruction than a private guitar teacher, their videos can be an excellent resource for learners looking to improve their skills and learn new techniques.
Fun or Theory
Whether you choose in-person or online, the question is whether guitar instruction should prioritize learning your favorite songs or theory and technique. Ultimately, the answer depends on your goals and individual preferences. Nonetheless, numerous music industry professionals concur that it is crucial to strike a balance between both approaches to develop into a proficient and versatile guitar player.
In an article for Guitar World, guitar instructor Tom Hess states, “A good teacher should be able to balance the practical with the theoretical, providing a healthy mix of both, so that you’re learning to play the songs you love but also developing a strong foundation in theory and technique.”
Similarly, in an interview with Premier Guitar, acclaimed guitarist Steve Vai emphasizes the importance of both approaches, stating, “When I teach, I try to find out what the student’s goals are and try to help them achieve those goals. I like to teach them their favorite songs, but also try to explain why they work so they can understand how to use that information in their own playing.”
Learning your favorite songs can be motivating and enjoyable, while theory and technique can provide a foundation for understanding and creating music. Finding a balance that works for you and your goals as a guitar player. A good instructor should be able to tailor their instruction to your individual needs and preferences.
Another aspect of guitar instruction is understanding how much and how often to practice. The amount of time and frequency that you practice can affect your progress and how quickly you improve. It’s generally recommended that beginners practice for at least 30 minutes daily, five days a week. However, you may want to increase your practice time and frequency as you become more advanced.
It’s also essential to make sure that you’re practicing effectively. This means focusing on specific techniques or exercises rather than just playing through songs. A good instructor should be able to provide guidance on what to practice and how to practice effectively.
Are you in search of a guitar instructor? Before signing up for lessons, it’s essential to consider a few things. Finding the right balance between learning songs and theory/technique is crucial. I regret not thinking about this before starting lessons, as my instructors focused solely on songs and skipped over theory. Additionally, it’s essential to determine how frequently and for how long you should practice and choose between in-person or online instruction.
There are various ways to find an instructor, including local music stores, online marketplaces, referrals, and social media. While free resources on YouTube can be helpful, personalized instruction from a private instructor is recommended for better results. Regardless of your chosen method, don’t hesitate to start learning, as it will be a fulfilling journey, and you’ll develop a lifelong love for playing guitar. If you have any questions or thoughts, please let me know!