In today’s crowded field of online music lessons, YouTube tutorials and mobile device teaching apps, it is not so easy to spot the right one that will make you a musician or at least improve your musical skills. Chances are, you will be looking at 20+ tutorials and haven’t touched your guitar the whole time! That’s a lot of time you could have invested into actually practicing a lick or a scale or something!
My music journey started when I was 6 years old and my parents, after months of begging for it, finally bought me my first guitar. It was a cheap classical guitar but to me it was a dream come true! Finally I would be on a path of becoming a Rockstar!
They didn’t however get me guitar lessons at first and, back then, there was no internet or any other way to actually figure out how to even tune it, let alone learn how to play it. Luckily, my upstairs neighbor, a kid about my age named Alessandro, had a guitar and he showed me a couple of chords. With these two chords, an A and an E chord, the guitar started to make some sounds that somewhat made sense musically. I realized I had a good ear when, just listening to some kids who had a band practicing a song in a garage, I figured out the tune they were playing on my guitar without ever seeing what they were playing.
A year later or so, I had my first guitar lesson and the teacher patiently showed me they right way of play the things I already thought I was doing right but wasn’t. So I had to pretty much go back and re-learn and correct my mistakes.
It wasn’t until later, when I was 12, that I had a really great teacher. I remember the first time I saw him, emerging from his rusty VW Beetle, he seemed like a gentle giant with long hair and bell bottoms jeans, carrying a large acoustic guitar case.
It was group class, but my teacher understood that I was a better player than the other kids and so he always gave me the hard parts to learn and was constantly pushing me and challenging me with more complicated stuff, leaving the easy things for the other kids.
In these three years I learned to play many Beatles’ songs and learned to play my guitar while jamming with the other kids. I was the best one in the group and it felt good!
I took numerous lessons with other teachers in my life, wether it was for guitar, banjo, mandolin or ukulele and each teacher made me a better musician. My curiosity was paying off and I was very careful in capturing any little detail I could, the placement of the fingers, the effortless of movement, the difference in sound.
They all had a different approach and I was able to be inspired, understand the instrument I was playing and most importantly realize that no matter what I was learning, I needed to put a lot of practice into it if I wanted to be a better player.
I am better player today because of all those music teachers I had. I learned many valuable techniques from each one of them and they had a different approach about teaching or playing.
The most important thing however, was the fact that the guitar lessons were once a week, therefore holding me accountable for my daily practice and setting new goals each week. After the guitar lesson, it was of outmost importance that I would go home and practice what I just learned so I wouldn’t forget. I was playing hours every day and driving my parents crazy as I would play guitar instead of doing my homework.
If you think about it, taking music lessons is similar to having a personal trainer as opposed to having a gym in your home. If you have a home gym, chances are you might be doing the same routine and not really improving as much as you should, but with a personal trainer you see once or more times a week, you will notice an improvement almost immediately.
It’s simple: the personal trainer will challenge you, will make sure you complete all of your routine and offer advices and correct things that you are doing when needed.
And that’s exactly what a music teacher does!
A music teachers will play with you, will challenge you to learn new things or show you new ways of playing old things, will make sure your timing is good, will point out things that otherwise you might have missed and finally will inspire you.
So, wether you are a complete beginner or a more experienced musician and you feel like you hit a wall, consider taking some music lessons. You will not regret it and you will be on a path to becoming a better musician in no time.