Are Guitar Teachers and Lessons Worth It? How to Decide


acoustic guitar | Sandy Music Lab

So many self-taught guitarists start with great passion and enthusiasm, which dwindles and fades over time. There must be millions of guitars gathering dust in garages that once held great hope for greatness. Teaching yourself to play a musical instrument on your own is challenging, and if you wish to progress, you should consider taking guitar lessons.

Guitar lessons are worth it if you wish to achieve proficiency and keep progressing with your musical skills. Professional teachers can impart proper technique, correct your flaws and expand your musical knowledge. Some form of musical mentorship is essential for becoming a skilled musician. 

Guitar lessons can help you stay motivated and prevent you from giving up when your motivation wanes, like many aspiring musicians. Proficiency in guitar requires dedication and some form of apprenticeship to those who have mastered the instrument. If you are passionate about guitar, here are some reasons why guitar lessons are the best way forward. 

How to Decide if Guitar lessons are Worth Your While

There are several questions you need to ask yourself to decide whether formal guitar lessons are necessary. Ultimately, you need to decide if you are serious about playing the guitar and wish to advance to a more professional level. If so, you will need to seek mentorship in one form or another. 

No musical great evolved in a vacuum, and history abounds with legends who learned their skills on the road and in surrounding themselves with musical mentors. While this isn’t an option for most of us, formal lessons are an essential means to lay the foundations of your musical skills.

Whether you have just started or reached the frustrating impasse that so many self-taught musicians experience, you should ask yourself these helpful questions.

  • Are you serious about wanting to become a guitar player?
  • Are you willing to put in the practice and hours to hone your musical skills?
  • Are you planning to move forward in your playing skills?
  • Are you committed to mastering your guitar-playing technique?

If the answer is yes to the above, and you have a passion for the guitar, then formal lessons are an invaluable step towards achieving your goals as a guitarist. 

Why a Guitar Teacher is the Best Option

Most people who decide to play the guitar have some form of a vision of themselves strumming their instrument with skill, perhaps a classical ballad or rocking onstage like Slash. However, few people realize the amount of commitment and work is necessary to play the guitar well.

Adages say that it takes 10,000 hours to gain mastery of a skill, and the art of music is especially demanding of time, practice, and hours of repetitive actions. If you only intend to strum Wonderwall and Brown-Eyed-Girl on Thanksgiving, a teacher may not be necessary.

However, if you intend to take guitar seriously and wish to master the skill, a teacher will be your best way forward. Flea took music lessons at school which changed his delinquent life sound to become a world-renowned guitar genius. Every trade and art has its necessary apprenticeship, and guitar is no different. 

Although there are many self-taught guitar greats, most artists learned from some form of mentorship or another. Jimi Hendrix played hundreds of honky-tonks and learned from the seasoned guitar veterans he encountered to stretch his abilities to become great. 

Almost every great artist of fame has taken the step to learn from those who were masters of their art. A guitar teacher provides an aspiring musician with several invaluable benefits. 

A Guitar Teacher Will Keep You Moving Forward

Anyone who has taught themselves a musical instrument can attest that there are certainly highs and lows in the process. Initially moving from absolute ignorance, there is nothing better than the feeling of mastering the first few chords to make your song. 

In the beginning stages, your progress is immediately apparent, and you reach new peaks of competency, making you excited to move forward and keen to pick up your guitar.

Much like a story, the second chapter is the real challenge. 

You may have learned to play several tunes, but the exciting moments on your way to mastery become few and far between. This impasse is often the stage when your excitement wanes, and you may find yourself picking up your trusty guitar less and less frequently.

Despite the plethora of youtube tutorials today, it often takes a guitar teacher to move you forward in your technique and skills. The impetus of a skilled 

It also helps to be answerable to someone in terms of practice. If left alone, you might skip a week or so when your enthusiasm wanes, which you can’t do if your teacher expects progress in your next lesson. 

Guitar Lessons Fix Your Playing Flaws

When you teach yourself a musical instrument, you often develop bad habits without knowing. Despite all your efforts, these playing flaws may keep you from progressing forward, which may lead you to give up the guitar in frustration.

A professional guitar player has immediate access to your playing and can quickly isolate the bad habits that may leave you stuck from moving forward. Teachers can also ascertain your weaknesses in your playing and give you exercises to strengthen your technique.

Observing a teacher demonstrate their skills in a one-on-one setting can allow novice players to progress much more quickly in their abilities. Marked progress in your playing ability can reignite your passion for the practice and play and prevent you from giving up like so many novice musicians. 

Guitar Teachers Will Improve Your Technique

While trying to become the next guitar great, novice musicians often overlook the importance of technique. Musical technique allows aspiring musicians to exert optimal control over their instruments to produce professional musical effects.

Learning proper technique typically requires repetitive exercises to allow your brain to assimilate transitions seamlessly as almost second nature. Musical techniques improves muscular sensitivity to express oneself on the guitar.

The musical technique allows aspiring musicians to tackle scores that might otherwise be too difficult to master and keep their skills moving forward. Guitar technique often involves essential fundamentals such as:

Hand Position

Professional guitar playing rests on proper hand positioning in order to free the fingers to produce appropriate sounds. Often self-taught guitar players are prone to poor hand position to alleviate the painful process of learning to play.

Once the incorrect hand positioning becomes ingrained, a musician may find themself unable to progress with their playing, leading to frustration and boredom. Once a poor hand position sets in, it may be a difficult process to relearn the proper technique and require that a player may have to move backward in their progression to relearn the fundamental skills.

For example, novice guitar players often fall into the death grip to avoid the pain of pressing their fingers against the fretboard. They resort to hooking their thumb over the top of the fretboard for leverage, resulting in their playing with their finger pad rather than their fingertips. 

These small mistakes in hand position, among others, can limit your reach and affect your playing, something that a professional player can quickly rectify in a lesson setting. 

Finger Shape

Whether you are fretting or picking, the shape and angle of your fingers on the strings are of optimal importance to effective guitar playing. Your finger shape impacts the sounds you produce and the fluidity of your motion in play. Professional guitar players have the crucial knowledge to maximize finger positioning to ensure your playing progresses consistently. 

Guitar Teachers Expand Your Musical Knowledge

Mastering the art of playing a musical instrument does not only focus on the technical aspects of playing music. Professional guitar playing involves other essential tools that allow students to progress in their musical knowledge.

Musical theory is essential to teach a guitar student to read rhymes and musical notes and instruct them on musical composition. Self-taught musicians often use tablature to play new songs. Tablature is a form of notation that shows the string, fret, finger, or key to be used instead of the tone they intend to sound. 

Tablature reveals nothing of the rhythm or note value, making it challenging to learn songs properly. Understanding music theory helps students master the art of guitar more quickly and achieve a higher level of skill sooner. 

Do I Have to Have a Guitar Teacher to be Good?

You do not need formal guitar lessons to be great; however, every great musician has learned from professional mentors. Whether formal or informal, aspiring musicians need to learn from the masters in their instruments to reach greatness in their craft.  

Some of the greatest guitar legends, such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, are self-taught musicians. However, the term self-taught’’ is not entirely accurate. Musicians such as Hendrix and Clapton often surrounded themselves with fellow musicians and mentors on their road to stardom. 

Erik Clapton’s friend and mentor BB King inspired Clapton’s playing, teaching him the transitions between minor and major pentatonic scales in his solos. 

Likewise, the iconic Barry Davis mentored the young Jimi Hendricks in 1959, who practiced Davis’s chords for hours on end. The truth is these greats did have guitar teachers, although in informal settings.

Although formal training is not necessary for greatness, professional mentorship is essential to grow and flourish as a musician. 

Conclusion

If you are serious about playing guitar, guitar lessons provide invaluable tools to improve your technique and keep your playing progressing forward. Although formal lessons are not strictly necessary, they will advance your progress and set the proper framework for your evolution as a musician. Ultimately, each aspiring musician needs mentorship at some level or another to achieve mastery of their instrument.

David Sandy

Hey there! My name is David Sandy and I'm the founder of Sandy Music Lab. I've been playing guitar for several years now and created this site to be able to share and explore music with others. Check out my recommended guitar gear!

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