Guitar Lessons: What Kind of Learner Are You?

Posted on Aug 27 2020

There are so many different ways to learn guitar. People from all different walks of life are drawn to the instrument but share a common enemy: frustration. It’s easy to get discouraged when learning a new instrument and that myriad of experiences means a multitude of learning approaches to best combat that frustration. 

With the increasing number of online courses, apps, and media centered around teaching you the guitar, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Every guitar learning method comes with its own unique set of challenges, advantages, and disadvantages. The right answer for you will come down to a few considerations such as your learning style, budget, and proximity to qualified instructors. That’s why it’s important to determine exactly what’s the best way for YOU to learn guitar. So below, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of each learning method for guitar.


Private Instruction

For some, face-to-face lessons remain the best way to efficiently learn to play guitar. You'll typically meet with your guitar teacher for 30 minutes or an hour once a week, either in person or on video chat, where your teacher will determine which topics and exercises should be covered to reach your goals. Your teacher will also give you exercises or songs to practice between lessons.

Pros

  1. Mistakes and bad habits can be corrected immediately from instructor feedback in your lesson time slot. 
  2. For some people the accountability of an instructor can be quite motivating.
  3. You can ask your teacher anything, even questions outside the scope of the current lesson.
  4. Your teacher determines your lesson plan and there's no frustration with finding the next concept to learn.
Cons
  1. When practicing between lessons, you're on your own. You might forget what a handwritten exercise from your teacher sounds like or you might consistently play a note incorrectly that gets reinforced by muscle memory. You have to wait until your next lesson to see if you're headed in the right direction.
  2. It can be an anxious experience to head to your lesson feeling like you didn't practice enough due to lack of time. Your teacher's face when they realize they're reviewing the same lessons with you again ... it's something that isn't fun.
  3. It can also be frustrating when you have enough time to blow through your practice and want more but don't know what to work on.
  4. For in-person lessons, you have to commute to your teacher. For video chat lessons, you have to deal with lag, internet issues, and pointing webcams in the right direction.
  5. Money. Great instructors aren't cheap and the cost can quickly exceed your budget. It's not uncommon to see prices of $30 per 30 min lesson. Four times a month, that's $120 per month and $1440 per year. You might be a parent with multiple kids taking lessons. That's a substantial chunk of change!

Group Lessons

The cost of private lessons may lead you to consider alternatives such as group lessons. With this type of instruction, you'll be put in a group of other learners with one instructor. You'll all learn the same topic and practice together in the same time slot.

Pros

  1. It can be up to half the cost of private lessons.
  2. Provides a social element for those who enjoy learning alongside other people. You can make friends and share frustrations and common experiences while improving together.
  3. You can always learn new things by watching how other people tackle a problem. Group lessons introduce you to a lot of new people and could give some traction to a stagnant guitar learner.
  4. You can still ask the instructor personal questions, but be weary that the instructor's goal is to teach the group as a whole.

Cons

  1. Asking questions you think are "dumb" or playing in front of people might be anxiety inducing for you. It's a new skill and sometimes it's difficult to get away from the feeling that you're being judged or having feelings of inadequacy compared to other people in the class. 
  2. Group classes work at the rhythm and pace best suited for the group at large – so don’t expect a ton of personalizing and adjustments.
  3. Large classes can be difficult for teachers to manage and for students to properly engage in.
  4. The goals of the group might not align with your personal goals, or might only partially align. You might spend a considerable amount of time learning topics or playing exercises you have no interest in.

Self-Guided Instruction

Another option is doing self-taught with the help of instruction books, DVDs, YouTube, online lesson sites, or video games like RockSmith. What do these learning methods all share in common? They are self-guided and you learn at your own pace. The truth is, there's loads of learning materials online and it can be overwhelming to digest what each method is offering. Our advice is to find content that is reputable: the fact that anyone can post content on the Internet means that there's a ton of instruction that may not have been quality checked. As a new learner it's difficult for you to spot inaccuracies or poor lesson content, so ensure the content is produced by experts.

Pros

  1. A fraction of the cost of private or group lessons. On YouTube you can find free lessons, however there's a lot of videos produced by people who aren't qualified teachers. Moreover, YouTube videos don't follow a structured lesson plan.
  2. You can move at your own pace. Didn't have enough time to practice this week because of life? No worries. Want to binge learn on the weekend? Awesome, you can do that. Because of this, self-guided instruction has the highest ceiling amongst all of the instruction types. You can really move quickly and therefore improve quickly.
  3. You don't have to commute to your teacher or coordinate with other people to learn.

Cons

  1. It's up to you to determine how you will learn. Which website, YouTube streamer, or book will you follow? 
  2. It's up to you to keep motivated and practicing. You have to keep yourself accountable.
  3. It's up to you to ensure the content you're learning is reputable.
  4. It's up to you to determine when you're playing something incorrectly and figure out how to fix it. If you don’t have a trained ear, you may miss getting feedback from an instructor when you make mistakes.

AI Music Lessons

At AI Music Lessons, we've been through private lessons, group lessons, and tried many of the self-directed methods from instructional books to YouTube to RockSmith. We understand the pros and the cons of self-directed learning. What leads most people down the path of self-directed learning is the affordable price point and the ability to self pace, which can be the absolute fastest way to learn.

Here's why you should try us:

  1. Our courses, lessons, and exercises are created by internationally recognized music educators. The lessons on our website have created guitar players out of millions of aspiring musicians.
  2. We're a mere fraction of the cost of private or group lessons and competitively priced with other self-guided instruction methods.
  3. One of the biggest downsides of self-directed learning is that there's no opportunity to get feedback on your playing or to gain insight on how you could improve. We've worked incredibly hard on our AI technology that listens in on your practice and provides constructive feedback on which notes you missed in terms of pitch and timing and which notes you're playing correctly. It's like having a private instructor in the room with you!
  4. We get established guitarists to hand arrange popular songs at different skill levels for you to play along with. This can keep you engaged, motivated, and interested throughout some of the heavier theory portions.
  5. Other self-guided lessons might not teach you theory or how to read sheet music & tabs, which is important to mastering your guitar in the long term. A lot of content on YouTube or RockSmith focus on playing songs, which can be really exciting in the short-term, but you won't understand what you're playing (chord names, key, scales, etc.) that make creating your own music or collaborating with other musicians a breeze later on. We'll teach you everything you need to know, from the ground up, so you can pick up any piece of music and play it confidently in your living room or live on stage.

The path to becoming a guitar hero is one with many different choices to take. But with the help of AI Music Lessons, you don’t have to make these choices entirely alone. Find out more about our online guitar lessons and take the plunge!