The Guitar World has been in the music lesson business, along with music retail, for a long time, and we’ve noticed a common theme when it comes to the expectations of new students, specifically adults. They ask questions like “How many lessons will it take before I can play?”, or make statements like “I’ll just teach myself on YouTube.”
Today we’d like to take a little time to go over some reasonable expectations for anyone out there who is thinking about learning to play a musical instrument.
First of all, it takes time and repetition. Building up muscle memory is probably the most important goal at the beginning. You could have a deep understanding of all kinds of music theory but without the physical ability to execute what you’re hearing in your head, it’s a non-starter. So be prepared to get those hands busy! Your music instructor will provide you with exercises - do them over and over again. Soon enough, it will become second nature.
There are many sources that you can learn from, like YouTube, but there’s no substitute for real feedback from another human being. A good instructor will be monitoring your progress, providing direction and preventing the development of bad habits. And the musical interaction between student and teacher cannot be achieved from viewing an instructional video.
Beyond one-on-one instruction everything else is considered a bonus. Books and videos are great and have been around forever. And interaction with other players is an excellent (and unavoidable) way to supplement your musical education. Once you try playing with another student or jamming in a band situation you’ll be opening yourself up to an unlimited learning experience.
Finally, there’s ear training. That’s where you try listening to a piece of music and reproducing it on your instrument without the help of anyone else. It may seem impossible at first, but with the development of that muscle memory and some time and repetition, you’ll realize that your ears have been paying attention. The ultimate satisfaction as a student of music is when you can hear something and have the ability to play it back on your instrument.
So, if you’re about to purchase that first guitar, start thinking about signing up for lessons at music school near you. Are you listening?
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