Guest Post by Tim from Guitar ‘O’ Mighty |
There are many different resources beginners can use to lean to play the guitar, these days.
Which resource is most suited to you will depend on your individual situation – it’s great to have the options so you can find a way that fits your schedule and circumstances.
Learning The Guitar Has Never Been Easier
If you’re getting started with the guitar as a beginner in today’s world, you’ve come to the proverbial table at exactly the right time, and I hope you’re hungry! With the advent of the internet, almost every major piece of guitar music is available to listen to for free.
Listening is an invaluable tool for the beginner musician, as music is an aural art form. You heard something that inspired you to learn, and you can now watch and listen to the greatest guitarists in the world.
In every genre, from classical maestros like Andres Segovia and Joh Williams to jazz legends Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino to bluesmen B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughn to rock pioneers like Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page and everything that came before or has happened since.
The beauty of discerning listening is you can discover so many great guitarists at your leisure. So the first and perhaps most important resource to get started is your ears and an internet connection so you can see and hear all the possibilities of this wonderful instrument before you begin the lifelong journey of learning how to wield it.
Music doesn’t discriminate, and the guitar is one of the most amazing and versatile instruments in the world in that it has a place in literally every style of music.
You’re not a fan of country music? Check out Roy Clark, Chet Atkins or Albert Lee. Don’t think you like jazz fusion? Try on some early Al DiMeola or 70’s Jeff Beck on for size. You get the point; music is a beautiful language with many dialects. Soak them all in.
Fancy Book Learning
If music is a language, then one of the best resources for learning a language is and will always be a really old school relic: a book!
There are terrific method books available from a variety of sheet music publishers like Hal Leonard, Mel Bay, Alfred and more and an even cursory glance online brings you dozens of wonderful beginner method books to start with.
There are basic methods that incorporate learning standard music notation so you can eventually read music. The ability to read music is a terrific skill as it allows you an even greater understanding of the language, and lets you learn more music faster.
If you can read you can get a book of holiday songs in December and be entertaining friends and family after Christmas dinner. If you have a desire to learn jazz, there are amazing song books with hundreds and hundreds of tunes. Reading also allows you to participate with other musicians more easily and if you’d like to perform, the ability to read can allow you to play in a community concert, show or jazz big band.
There are also beginner method books that eschew standard notation and use tablature, which is an ancient method which depicts the strings of the guitar as lines and uses a simple number system to show you where to place your fingers and in which order to play the notes.
Some beginner methods offer a rhythm only approach, in other words you will begin by simply learning the chord progressions to popular tunes and strumming various rhythm patterns. This is a great resource if you enjoy singing and see the guitar as an accompaniment instrument to your voice.
Finally there are method books that are geared toward specific genres, and many of the aforementioned publishers have beginner series specifically for jazz, rock, blues, country and classical.
Back To School
I don’t mean the classic Rodney Dangerfield movie, I mean find a music school in your neighborhood and find a teacher and register for weekly private lessons. There are many terrific music schools that offer private lessons with advanced and even master level guitarists.
I suggest if you decide to go this route, which is proven and tried and true, that you do your research. There are many “rock schools” and “academies” that have teachers on staff with no qualifications.
So take your time and find a professional school, usually one that offers lessons on all instruments and teachers that have a university degree in music. That should be the main criteria in your search for a private instructor.
Most professional studios will allow you to pay for an introductory lesson to make sure the school and studio is a good fit. Take an hour lesson with the teacher, make sure he or she is the right one for you and go from there. When learning a new subject, and I speak from personal experience here, there is no substitute for a qualified, friendly and caring instructor.
Online Lessons and “Gadgets”
Heading back to the internet as a main resource, there are many guitarists offering beginner lessons online from “regular” guys and gals to world renowned guitarists and organizations offering personalized master lessons online through websites like Guitar’O’Mighty, TrueFire, DC Music School, Jamplay, Guitar Tricks and many, many more.
I think that online resources like these can be helpful, and offer a fun way to watch and learn, but if you are starting completely from scratch and need help with everything from holding the guitar to tuning it to basic picking and strumming techniques and have had no prior musical training then online lessons are a way to augment or add to more traditional resources such as a proper method book and a good teacher.
For some online is the best way for them to learn and for some it’s the only viable option.
Be Careful for Gimmicks Though
There are always creators and inventors in the world trying to re-invent the wheel and there will always be video and online courses that promise to “teach you the guitar in ten days” or gadgets you can attach to the guitar that almost play the guitar for you. I recommend you avoid these things.
Music isn’t a fad or something that just happened overnight but rather a soulful, magical form of expression that human beings have used to heal, to laugh, to love, to cry and to speak truth to power with. Learning music is an absolute joy so take the time and do it right.
Best of luck on your journey!
Tim from Guitar ‘O’ Mighty