Before the internet, the fastest and most effective way to get some answers on playing guitar could best be found by signing up for guitar lessons at a local studio. Nowadays, it has gone the complete opposite direction. In fact, many guitarists today perceive actual one-on-one guitar lessons as a last resort option, even an embarrassment when compared to their many "self-taught" (aka "internet taught") friends. And even though it may seem like the profession of guitar teacher is quickly becoming a thing of the past, I believe this will never completely become the case. Here are 10 reasons why you should get a guitar teacher NOW:
1. Get a Guitar Teacher to Avoid Bad Habits
A bad habit is like a pebble in your shoe. For as long as you allow that pebble to remain in your shoe, it will always be distracting you and keeping you from reaching your full potential. You don't know exactly how it got there, but there's no question that it has to go! Just like you would stop what you're doing and remove the pebble, a guitar teacher's job is to prevent you from proceeding forward until the bad habit is addressed. A guitar teacher does this through paying careful attention to bad habits that are forming or could form into serious problems down the road. Bad habits can subtly creep in at any time; they will always slow down your progress and can often result in life long injury.
2. Get a Guitar Teacher to Make REAL Progress
There's no question that learning songs on the guitar is fun. In the beginning, learning just about any song labeled as "easy" will result in progress. However, no one ever talks about what happens after "easy." I'll tell you what happens: a ton of songs become available as "playable." This is where a lot of guitarists get stuck. Thinking that learning easy songs is what got them progress in the first place, they continue to learn any and all playable songs that randomly show up in their YouTube subscription feed. The result is that these guitarists stop making progress and start going in endless circles. A guitar teacher is meant to function as a guide through the jungle of "easy songs," giving students only the best songs to help them make REAL progress.
3. Get a Guitar Teacher to Discover Your Goals
As Joe Jackson once said, you can't get what you want until you know what you want. Believe it or not, figuring out what you want out of life is REALLY HARD TO DO. And double that difficulty if you're trying to figure out what you want all by yourself. Having a guitar teacher presents a rare opportunity to have a conversation with a like-minded and more experienced individual who can function as a sounding board for your dreams and ambitions. These conversations are of immeasurable worth and they will prevent you from wasting hours of practice that goes nowhere.
4. Get a Guitar Teacher for Performance Experience
My students often say they are most nervous when playing in front of me each week. When they aren't able to play what they've been working on all week, they're frustrated. When they are able to play what they've been working on all week, they're energized and excited. Yet what most students don't always realize is that how they feel about their performances doesn't matter. What really matters in the world of musicians is only one thing: experience. By playing in front of a respected and more skilled musician each week, these students are learning invaluable information about themselves and their practice routine. Don't wait until you're live on stage to find out you've been practicing it all wrong, get a guitar teacher now.
5. Get a Guitar Teacher to Receive Trusted Feedback
More than once I've seen many a guitarist asking for feedback about their playing skills in online forums. No sooner than posting a video of their skills in action do a myriad of contradicting and unclear advice comments start pouring in. While it's great to have random and highly opinionated group of people on the internet provide feedback, the problem here is that it's not trusted feedback. Trusted feedback comes from someone who: knows your tendencies as a guitar player, knows how you think, knows your background/story and genuinely cares about you as a person and player. In this sense I think it's safe to say that only YOUR guitar teacher is qualified to provide trusted feedback.
6. Get a Guitar Teacher to Gain Confidence
Becoming great at the guitar is a living mind game! Guitarists succumb to the mentally torturous experience of becoming skilled at the guitar in a few different ways. Some are skilled but they're terribly insecure and unconfident; some guitarists lie to themselves about their skill when the reality is that they are both unconfident and unskilled; and other guitarists just give up and say it's not for them. Each scenario is a tragedy of its own. Belief is at the core of the issue. Believing in yourself is the most critical component to becoming truly great at the guitar. It's hard to believe in yourself when you're either alone practicing all the time or competing with guitarists of equal skill for the same gigs. A guitar teacher will give you the belief you might not have in yourself and they're in your corner to provide you have the edge at your next audition.
7. Get a Guitar Teacher to Save Time
I've seen many a sacrifice in the name of the claim, "self-taught." While sacrifices like not having a social life, developing bad technique, causing self-injury or neglecting personal responsibility are all up there, the worst sacrifice of all is time. We each have the same 24 hours to negotiate and leverage towards the advancement of our goals. Why a guitarist would prefer to spend 6 or 7 of those hours trying to figure out something they could learn in one hour makes approximately 0.0000001% sense. Get a guitar teacher; they will save you from wasting time trying to re-do what has already been done.
8. Get a Guitar Teacher to Build Your Network
There comes a point in every guitarist's journey where they're ready to start getting out there and playing. If said guitarist doesn't know any musicians, getting out there and playing is easier said than done. Needless to say, a guitar teacher knows LOTS of musicians! Depending on skill, a guitar teacher is happy to pair his or her students with other students of equal skill, local event coordinators, or even full-time gigging musicians. Musicians are a social folk. As such, no musician is an island and neither can they afford to be one. Do yourself a favor and make sure your first network connection is your guitar teacher.
9. Get a Guitar Teacher to Challenge Yourself
Throughout my guitar lesson experience, the hardest songs I ever played were the ones I never even knew existed before the teacher assigned it. And to this day, being able to play THOSE once unknown songs are the ones I'm most proud of being able to play. I learned to love those songs because each one stretched my talent farther than I thought it could go and taught me something about myself as a guitar player. I would never trade that experience for the title of "self-taught" any day of the week. To find out what you're really made of ... you know what I'm going to say ... get a guitar teacher!
10. Get a Guitar Teacher to Discover your Blind Spots
It's so easy to see the faults in others and be completely blind to them ourselves. Just as an example, I'm sure you've noticed grammar mistakes or oddly phrased statements in this article that I completely missed as I wrote it. While grammar mistakes aren't the end of the world, I'm sure you don't feel the same way about guitar playing mistakes. Yet, they still happen just the same. What's worse is that most of these mistakes we're completely oblivious to simply because we can't see ourselves. A guitar teacher will see what you can't see and their experience will lead to great advice that speaks right to the heart of the issue. Get a guitar teacher now.
By now I hope that you see the relationship between a guitar teacher and his/her student as that of the time-tested mentor and apprentice relationship. From a long time ago in a galaxy far away to present day, this relationship is still around because it just works! And in case that's not clear enough, your guitar teacher is the Yoda to your Luke Skywalker. Luke didn't turn down Yoda's help so he could brag to Han that he was "self-taught," that wasn't even a consideration. In the same way, don't avoid getting a guitar teacher; they're not a living google search engine and they're not your competition. Instead, recognize a guitar teacher for what they really are: your greatest ally!
About the Author
Owner of GuitarSighted Instruction and Guitar Teacher, Alex Flores specializes in helping guitarists perform with confidence and real skill. He teaches exclusively online in private lessons, group classes and digital courses. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah he is happily married to his High School sweetheart and loves to rehash a good blockbuster (especially those awesome Marvel movies)!