I am self-taught, why do I need guitar lessons?
Many people claim to be self-taught when it comes to learning guitar. They may have viewed instructional DVDs or YouTube videos, learned songs from guitar tablature websites, studied guitar books or magazines or just tried to learn songs by ear. Learning guitar requires a great deal of exploration, motivation and creativity. Doing as much as you can on your own is a great way to get started and develop these qualities within your self. Although there are a handful of famous guitarists who have never taken a formal lesson, there are far more successful guitarists that have been formally educated.
If you really want to learn music, you will learn it much faster with a teacher. Why waste countless hours, weeks and months trying to figure out the complexities of music when a good teacher can teach you these things in a fraction of the time? Even professional athletes have coaches. A coach will evaluate an athlete’s mechanics and awareness and find ways to improve or correct them. A good teacher will evaluate a student’s flaws and find ways to strengthen their weaknesses. Many professional musicians still take lessons in order to constantly improve and succeed in their field.
Imagine visiting a doctor who proclaims he is self-taught and did not attend medical school. Most people would find that ridiculous and insist that a doctor have extensive medical training. Yet when it comes to a guitarist or musician, many people don’t exhibit the same perspective. Why should a self-taught guitarist who portrays himself or herself as a competent musician expect to be treated as such? There is a common misconception that some people are just born great musicians and do not need any training. As a trained musician, it is easy to spot an untrained one. There is an obvious inferiority when I encounter self-taught players or ones that have little music education. Sure, they may be able to perform some things on their instrument but they clearly lack the skills that a professional has obtained through training. Yes, there are cases in which a completely self-taught guitarist can exhibit proficiency on their instrument but why risk a lack of progressing when a good music teacher can accelerate your abilities drastically? If you are serious about learning guitar or any musical instrument, the best way to improve your playing is to take lessons from a knowledgeable teacher.
With that being said, when choosing a teacher to study from it is imperative that he is a trained musician. It is important to learn the correct approach and methodology from a trained individual. Many self-taught guitarists pose as instructors and it is a shame to see aspiring guitar students waste their money on such individuals. How can someone who has never had a formal lesson possibly be an effective teacher? Throughout my musical studies, I have studied with many great teachers at the highest level. I have benefitted greatly from their teachings as a performer, composer, musician and instructor. In order for an individual to be an effective music teacher, they must study with great teachers themselves. When choosing a teacher, make sure your instructor is formally educated and you are sure to accelerate rapidly as a musician.
When I was a freshman in college, I had a friend who played acoustic guitar. He was not an advanced player by any means but knew some songs and loved to play for fun. He asked me if I’d be willing to sing some songs while he played and I agreed. We had great time playing together and began performing for friends and even recorded ourselves on an old 4-track tape recorder. I was becoming very passionate about music and decided I wanted to learn how to play the electric bass in order to contribute more musically to our collaborations. My friend allowed me to borrow his bass guitar and he showed me how to read tabs online. After some persistence and hard work, I was able to play along with some of my favorite songs. I began playing bass in our duet settings and we even got a couple gigs in the process. I would play along with entire albums and subconsciously developed good time and feel.
While there were musical concepts I could pick up on or achieve with practice there were other aspects that I struggled with and was not able to execute due to my lack of knowledge. I decided to take a music theory course to better my understanding. I started learning the basics of the musical alphabet, note relationships and rhythms. I soon began playing with some players that had much more experience than I did. They enjoyed playing improvisational music, which was a concept I was not familiar with at the time. We formed a band together and would jam whenever possible while playing a gig every now then. I could tell that I had a natural ability for music. I learned as much as I could from my band mates but realized I needed some formal guidance in order to better myself. At that point I began taking guitar lessons.
Over the years, I have studied with various types of teachers on all levels. From rock musicians to formally trained. Overall I have studied privately with over 15 teachers and through my academic studies at the collegiate level, I have studied with at least 15 additional teachers.