There are different methods or "models" of education for most topics. For those interested in learning guitar, there are primarily three ways to get it done:
- Tutor or in-person model
- Group or classroom model
- Online model
We often deal with the online guitar lesson model, but in this case we're address the lesser-known group or what some call the "classroom" model guitar lesson. In this article I'm going to answer the question: Are group guitar lessons better than getting a tutor?
If you're interested in exploring online options, checkout the quiz below for some help finding a good fit:
We've Done the Work for You
Find your best guitar lesson match
Find an online guitar lesson program best suited for your particular situation and learning style.
The Short Answer
While group guitar lessons are kind of an unknown, it's generally thought that a classroom is more formal, and therefore better than a tutor who is just teaching you guitar in their living room. However, in the case of guitar lessons, group lessons are usually not as good as having a guitar teacher who is teaching just you. Here are some of the disadvantages:
- Individualized attention gets reduced
- Customized learning plan largely goes away
- You spend less time actually playing
- It's naturally a more distracting environment
Group lessons are usually not as good as having a guitar teacher who is teaching just you.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that group guitar lessons are all bad. Let's look at some other factors to consider when weighing your guitar lesson options and whether or not a group lesson setup would be helpful to you.
Group Guitar Lesson Variables to Consider
Sticking with just the short answer is not adequate because all group guitar lessons are not created equal. In fact, there are several variables that can change and dramatically impact your experience. Here are a few that you should consider:
- Length of the lesson
- Number of other students in the class
- Instruction format focus (Whiteboard or more guitar demonstration?)
- Teacher's personality (Engaging? Able to hold attention? Do you identify with them?)
- Organization providing the lessons (Schools, community centers, education businesses, etc.)
All of these factors can have an effect on how helpful a group guitar lesson (or course) might be. For example, a group lesson with 20 students is going to be vastly different than a group lesson with 15. The less students you have, the easier it will be to have your questions answered and get individualized attention.
The Teacher's Personality
Another important factor that's easy to overlook is the teacher's personality. This actually applies to tutoring and online guitar lessons as well.
The reality is that we are social and relational beings. Thus, we identify and relate well with certain people more than others. It's not right or wrong - it's just how we were made. As a consequence, not relating to a teacher in a classroom can make it difficult for you to pay attention or even enjoy the class time. Thus, we'd recommend targeting group lessons where you know and trust the instructor.
Now that we've talked about the disadvantages and variables involved with group guitar lessons, let's touch on some benefits.
What about the advantages of a group & classroom?
Why might someone seek out group guitar lessons?
In my experience, the answer often lines in whether or not you're an introverted or extroverted learner. The difference is quite simple:
- Introverted learner: Self-motivated and draws energy from working alone
- Extroverted learner: Feedback-oriented and gets energy from being around people
For extroverted learners, the social environment provided by both a teacher and fellow students is going to be a net positive. It'll make it easier for them to stay motivated to learn guitar and give them energy to get through the class and bounce ideas off other people.
For introverted learners, both group lessons and individual tutors can be less ideal than online guitar lessons. Those who are motivated by being alone will have a much harder time with the social aspect of the classroom and may even find themselves constantly tired out by the process.
Yet, in light of that distinction, we can draw up a few potential benefits of the group guitar lesson format:
Potential Benefits of Group Lessons (especially for extroverted learners)
- Social interaction
- Immediate feedback and plenty of idea sharing
- Easy to learn from others
- Easy to see you're not the only one struggling
- Classrooms and groups are often taught by more highly qualified musicians
Difference in Price
What about the price difference between group guitar lessons and the in-person options?
We've put together a list of common guitar lesson pricing conventions that might be helpful, though it's fairly difficult to determine what a group guitar lesson will cost. Because of the variables I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of different scenarios to account for that could potentially impact price.
It wouldn't be unusual for a $60 private lesson fee to translate into a $15 group lesson fee.
However, it's safe to say that the cost difference is going to heavily favor the group lesson. This is for the same reason that it's much cheaper to get daycare where they're taking care of multiple children at once, as opposed to an in-home nanny for one or two kids. The larger group of paying students is almost always going to cut down on your out of pocket expenses.
While this is just speculation on my part, it wouldn't be unusual for a $60 private lesson to translate into a $15 group lesson.
To conclude and summarize our discussion: Are group guitar lessons better than individual or online lessons?
Probably not, in most cases.
However, there are certain learning styles and personality types that would thrive in that setting, so it's important to examine yourself and think about how you're wired. How do you learn? What makes you excited about the guitar? If it's about getting to go and focus in a classroom and bounce ideas off other people, the group lesson might be a good fit for you.