Learning to play guitar is a long time dream shared by various age groups from young beginners to adults. It is an instrument that has been fully ingrained in our popular culture due to its versatility and presence in widely different styles. Whether you are into folk music with an acoustic guitar or rock music with an electric guitar, there are tons of resources available to get you started on the instrument.
Personally, I am a piano teacher and started my musical study on this instrument, but I was always drawn to guitar as well. Since I already had prior knowledge of basic note and rhythm reading on piano, I felt that learning guitar could be a self-taught pursuit that I could study on my own with instructional books and videos—which is exactly what I did, at first. I quickly realized that the benefits of even one private guitar lesson with an instructor would offer much more insight into how to advance my technique and guitar study, so I took private lessons for a stint of time. Together, the two avenues of guitar study (private and video instruction) have brought me to the skill set I have now on the instrument, and there are definite advantages and some disadvantages of both. However, I feel that the benefits of a private guitar lesson makes learning the instrument much easier and more fun.
In the recent past, video lessons for guitar were instructional VHS tapes and DVD sets that had progressive lessons to get you started on the instrument. In fact, many beginning guitar kits still come with your first instructional video, so that you can start playing as soon as you get the instrument. However, we now have YouTube and other online video outlets that have tons of guitar lessons from various experts. They completely vary in level as well, as you can find anything from beginner videos through advanced, specific lessons on certain techniques and styles.
The benefits of having video instruction available, for me, placated a sense of impatience I had in guiding my own study. I thought, “It’s like having a private guitar lesson at my convenience and pace,” but there were a few mistakes in my logic. Of course, it is great to be able to study your instrument with step-by-step instruction whenever you want, and this aspect of convenience is the greatest advantage of video lessons. I also learned a lot from watching and practicing with the videos and books, but not all the concepts gelled with me, and there were many aspects of my playing that needed correction.
The main point of concern for me with video lessons was that the pace was much too fast, and didn’t really fit my learning style. I was constantly having to back up and pause the video lesson to half-catch-up to the new topic, and I felt like my progress was too slow, because I couldn’t get everything on the first, second, and even third time.
Private Guitar Lesson
The fact that I still felt a little uncomfortable and uncoordinated in playing basic rhythm guitar after a year led me to sign up for my first private guitar lesson with a guitar teacher in my area. I found that the issue with the video lessons was that they didn’t focus in on the exact areas where I needed more help, which for me was correctly holding the instrument and some strumming techniques. In my first lesson, I learned so much! We went over tuning, how to hold the pick correctly (which I had been doing incorrectly since I first picked up the guitar), and I even learned how to change the strings on my acoustic guitar before I left for the day.
The most important and successful part of taking private lessons was that I felt encouraged and inspired in the lesson, which is something a video instructor cannot provide. My instructor not only helped me with my areas of weakness, but he also applauded my strengths and helped me find pieces I liked that would also, slowly but surely, improve my playing overall.
Video guitar lessons are a wonderful resource for getting started on the instrument in terms of convenience and availability, and much can be gained from them. In terms of really engaging with and enjoying the guitar though, a private guitar lesson has many advantages over video lessons and fosters long term success with the instrument. Interaction in music study is an integral part of the discipline, so it is only natural to give private instruction a try and see what can be learned.
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