Where to begin with lessons?

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Much like everyone else, I've spent years playing guitar without improving one bit. I'm now at the stage where I'm pretty frustrated and looking to improve to try and re-ignite my love for playing which has sadly dwindled. 

I've never had guitar lessons before, which is probably the reason for my stagnation. I'm dissatisfied with a lot of aspects of my playing (fluidity, confidence) and my theory knowledge (non-existent). It's definitely time to get a kick up the arse and I feel a teacher is just want I need to analyse my weak points and give me some direction.

Just wondering where on earth you start once you find a teacher? I have a list of frustrations as long as my arm and no clear idea of what I want to improve other than 'everything'!
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Comments

  • MattharrierMattharrier Frets: 215
    Find a teacher first - they will probably ask you to play something, ask you what you want to be able to do/play and then assess where you are.

    My teacher did exactly that - he asked me what my experience was, what sort of things I wanted to be able to do, and then said "play what you'd play if someone handed you a guitar and you had to play something."

    A good teacher just needs to know the destination, they don't need you to tell them how to get there :)
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  • CarpeDiemCarpeDiem Frets: 212
    I agree with @Mattharrier The only points I would add are to find a teacher that will teach the type of music genre you're interested in, eg a classical guitar may not be best placed to teach you rock. Also, if you think you may be interested in progressing to music grade exams, find a teacher that is registered with the relevant examining body, eg Rock School, Trinity.

    As an aside, consider finding a person to jam  with or, better still, join a band. This is a great way of improving, and having fun.
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 799
    I'm a teacher and when I first speak to prospective new students I always ask what music they're into and what they want to do with the lessons. Then I ask them to play something as mentioned above and point out any bad habits/technique I notice (usually timing or rhythm issues). If a teacher doesn't plan their lessons and ask each week "what do you want to learn today then?" it shows they make them up on the spot and don't check the following week if you've worked on it. Avoid these kind of teachers who just want to make a pocket money and don't give a shit about progress. Usually they're the cheaper ones in my experience.

    Oh and I can teach online if you're interested. Lol.
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  • MattharrierMattharrier Frets: 215
    CarpeDiem said:
    I agree with @Mattharrier The only points I would add are to find a teacher that will teach the type of music genre you're interested in, eg a classical guitar may not be best placed to teach you rock.
    This is a good idea - I once enquired with a teacher, and after explaining that I'd got an electric guitar and wanted to learn some rock, he suggested I go out and buy a classical guitar... I did not have any lessons with him.
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  • MartinBushMartinBush Frets: 108
    My only piece of advice regarding lessons is to make sure you not only have time to attend the lessons, but also to practice inbetween.

    I have/ had a good teacher and the fact that I wasn't able to devote enough time to practicing between lessons proved to be dispiriting for us both.

    What did work for me, when I found a period where I had time, was setting goals (in my case learning pieces and scales for a Rockschool exam) and focusing. Having done that the response from my teacher went from polite annoyance to being genuinely impressed.
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  • TheMadMickTheMadMick Frets: 44
    I searched the net for  a"local" teacher and found a young guy who had been to RNCM. He gave me the 1st lesson free and while he doesn't always bear in mind where I'm coming from, I've had a lot of very useful experiences.

    I'm a slow leaner as I've other things to do as well as my guitar lessons (although I practice at least 5 days a week for about an hour) so I space my lessons at fortnightly intervals nominally. Works for us.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 16118
    Get used to the idea that art and education are separate and what you might learn in a lesson might feel pointless to you at the time. Proper music teachers (for any instrument) have decades of experience in getting people to play and actually understand music. What you do with that knowledge on your own time is up to you.

    No different to any other type of language. There are well trusted and proven basic steps that allow continual improvement with minimal frustration. We all learn "dog goes woof" and then some of us only write for forums, and others write serial killer novels!

    The Rock School type things are useful but they have a different aim. Their aim is to get a person playing with others but the certainly lack actual music knowledge and understanding. They meet their aim quite well but for the same time investment more can be done.

    Put it this way - if you had a traditional classical or jazz teacher and the lessons did the traditional approach of playing / reading and some theory then you could easily do the Rock School thing on your own time. The opposite just isn't true.

    If you are starting from scratch with lessons then learn to sight read and get some basic some theory. There is literally no downside to having more information. Just because it might traditionally be taught on a classical (and there are plenty of teachers who don't care what guitar you turn up with) it doesn't mean you can't play it on a BC Rich Warlock.

    Look at it as a fully featured formal education that removes or diminishes limitations you have when creating your art.

    They are separate things.

    I'm a late starter to reading. I wish I had done it 35 years ago. Even from a top 40 covers band / function band position where the bass is usually very basic it would have sped up the learning process massively. Transcriptions are often more accurate than endless internet tabs and they include time information as well. Tab cannot do that.

    5 mins a day is all that is needed to learn how to sight read music. Before you know it, every bit of written music ever put on paper is then available to you. Just like you can now read any English language book ever.
    Humans will swim in the sea even though there are many corpses in it.  They will not swim in a pool with a corpse in it. 
    Therefore all humans have a water / corpse ratio that is acceptable to them.
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  • willrejoneswillrejones Frets: 35

    Thanks guys, some really interesting points here and always useful to have some different insights 

    I think theory is one area I lack in majorly, have always struggled to get stuck in as I've never found a way to get a solid understanding of the fundamentals in a way that is both engaging and involves playing - trying to hit two birds with one stone. This is definitely an area that if I properly engaged with it, I would see huge improvements. 

    I've found a guy I'm going to try out, see if he can unpick some of my issues and help me figure out what to do!
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  • kelpbedskelpbeds Frets: 95
    I would advise getting someone who knows how to teach properly. This may seem obvious but a lot of guitar teachers are guitarists first and not really teachers and there is a big difference. I was a school teacher for 30 years before I became a guitar teacher and so many of my students comment on how much more progress they've made with me rather than other guitar teachers because of the way I teach. It's a really important factor!
    Check out my Blues lesson channel at:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBTSHf5NqVQDz0LzW2PC1Lw
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  • MattharrierMattharrier Frets: 215

    Thanks guys, some really interesting points here and always useful to have some different insights 

    I think theory is one area I lack in majorly, have always struggled to get stuck in as I've never found a way to get a solid understanding of the fundamentals in a way that is both engaging and involves playing - trying to hit two birds with one stone. This is definitely an area that if I properly engaged with it, I would see huge improvements. 

    I've found a guy I'm going to try out, see if he can unpick some of my issues and help me figure out what to do!
    Get a keyboard to learn theory. I can't play keys at all, but I find it much easier to get my head around the relationship between notes when they are all lined up in front of me. You can then transfer what you learn to the fretboard as you go.
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  • tabanotabano Frets: 62
    edited October 23
    Long post sorry..
    Imho I feel that quite a few potential students in similar positions to yours tend to think that because they never had a teacher they are not where they want to be with their playing,
    this is can be true but not the entire reason,
    When do you know that you have a good teacher? again imho:

    1- you should understand everything He/ She is explaining to you, even if it is something completely new to you,
    you shouldn’t have to fight the process but rather enjoy it, stop and ask when something is not clear to you  until it is, then when you get home you know what you have to do.
    I don’t mean the material that your teacher teaches you (that will take some time learning) I mean the contexts, words, examples.. you should take the “message” from the lesson home that day and If you do not, consider another teacher..

    2-  a good teacher should be able to see your strengths  and correct you only when something needs to be addressed.
    Some teachers  will just go and tell you “you should hold your pick like this” or “you should use this fingering”  but unless you are doing something against the nature of the motion you should just do what feels most natural to you and then take it from there, they should be able to see what’s wrong if anything, and then advise you accordingly, you should be able to see some progress after a while if you put the time and effort.

    3- Don’t blame your teacher for not playing as fast and fluent as you probably wish,
    but blame him if he tells you “don’t worry about speed, it will come with time”.
    although this is partly true it is again misleading.
    you have to work hard for speed and very low tempos.
    speed and very low tempos  are the ultimate  expression  of synchronisation in guitar in my opinion, they require rigorous discipline unfortunately,
    a good teacher should force you in both directions, fast and very slow, you most likely will cover the middle ground by doing so.

    4- theory.
    it really helps to understand harmony and internalise sounds,
    it will widen up your perception of Rhythm and Voicing and you might find yourself liking other styles more than what you think as you asimílate concepts, but, it is just that, theory that then  you will have to put it into practice. I believe it is best to play if playing better is what you want to do and unless you are teaching or teaching is your goal, maybe consider spending more time playing than reading books but Make Sure you understand what you are doing. You teacher is responsible for that.
    When you are able to explain what you are doing then  you are on the right track, otherwise stop and ask.
    and my last and most important point.

    5-  Make your life easy. 
    He/She should show you the shortcuts, your teacher should make the travel shorter but secure or otherwise She/He is not being really efficient,
    your goals should feel reachable ones  for you.
    They shouldn’t be big too big steps from one to another and there should be an improvement as you move on.
    He/ She should save you time and show you how to avoid distractions so you can focus on your goal one at a time.

    A teacher is  the best and solid  option  to take you where you want no doubt about it, but at the day, they teach you “How” to study, they organise your learning process, the content and the path, and they guide you through it all.
    You  will then  have to do start to study and putting  the work and hours,

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