Parent article: Guitar Lessons 101
There are multiple ways to take guitar lessons, far exceeding the face-to-face "living room" model many of us grew up with. While learning from a tutor is still a fairly common option, there are other types of guitar lessons that have cropped up in recent decades.
They include the following:
- Online (pre-recorded)
- Skype or Zoom
- Group or Class
In this article we'll take an in-depth look at all four of these methods, so you can see which one is right for you.
Read more: Full guitar lessons guide
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We'll cover the traditional approach first, the in-person, face-to-face guitar lessons. While these might be less popular today, they are still an extremely relevant and viable option for learning guitar.
1. In-Person or with a Tutor (face to face)
Before the internet, your only option for guitar lessons was to find a teacher - within driving distance - and meet with that teacher face-to-face for an hour or so, once or twice a week.
This is still a viable and practical option, especially for those in private school or kids who are homeschooled and have a little more flexibility in their schedule.
Characteristics of this Method
This type of guitar lesson is typically characterized by the following:
- Meeting face to face
- Meeting at your house or the teacher's house
- Paying by the hour
- 30 minutes or one hour lesson time
- Meeting at regular intervals (usually once or twice a week)
Benefits of this Method
Here are some of the benefits of meeting with your guitar teacher face to face:
- Immediate feedback and critique
- Usually a highly customized learning experience
- Great for social learners and extroverts
- One of the only ways to have questions immediately heard and resolved
While learning in person is still a fantastic option, it does have a few drawbacks that should be noted:
- Scheduling is often tricky
- Can be awkward and not ideal for introverts
- Not ideal for self-motivated learners
- Only accessible for an hour or two per week
- Content is limited to what your teacher knows (one perspective)
The answer to most of these drawbacks has come in the form of our next guitar lesson type, the online and streaming model.
2. Streaming Pre-Recorded Video or Course (online guitar lessons)
The future - and perhaps the present - of guitar lessons is on the internet, in the form of Netflix-style streaming services that provide pre-recorded guitar lessons for a monthly fee. In nearly every case this format is far cheaper than paying a guitar teacher in person.
These streaming services feature courses and video lessons that have been pre-recorded and arranged in proper topical order, allowing you to go straight through at your own pace.
Lessons in this format cover almost every musical style and every possible technique.
Some of the most popular websites that provide them include the following:
- Guitar Tricks
- Fender Player
On this site we've focused heavily on reviewing and comparing these programs. If you're looking for a good online guitar lesson option, you can check that link or use the quiz below to see which one is right for you:
Quiz: Which online guitar lesson program is right for you?
The cost alone makes these lessons extremely accessible, as most of the sites offer full access for around $20 a month. That number only gets lower if you buy a promotional or yearly rate. This means you solve the expense and scheduling problems of in-person lessons, as you get access to thousands of lessons (11,000 and counting on Guitar Tricks, to give an example) any time you're near a computer.
However, there are aspects of online learning that can't replicate what you get with an in-person teacher.
Immediate feedback, customized learning paths, and social interaction are usually missing from online programs.
It's important to think about how you like to learn when deciding between the two.
3. Skype or Zoom Guitar Lessons (online tutoring)
The next type of guitar lesson is sort of a combination of the first two, when you have a live teacher use technology like Zoom or Skype to teach you guitar.
We rarely recommend this method, because it takes away a lot of the advantages of both in-person and online guitar lessons. For example, you're learning online, but the scheduling issues and cost are still there. You're also not getting the same kind of social experience you get as you would face to face.
I'm sorry, but a Zoom call is not the same as meeting with someone in person.
You lose a lot of social interaction.
This is how a lot of companies operate their lessons, and it's honestly a bad deal for the student and consumer. Wherever possible, we recommend avoiding the Skype and Zoom lesson arrangement, in favor of either a fully in-person tutor, or a completely online experience with all the benefits thereof.
4. Group or Class Lessons
Our fourth and final guitar lesson type is group or classroom lessons. Think of this in terms of guitar lessons that might be offered at a community college.
While far less common than any of the first three methods, these types of classes are available depending on your location and the organization in question. It's commonplace in popular music schools for people to learn guitar this way, though not as common outside of that context.
We don't typically recommend this method, though it can be fun and helpful for social learners or extroverts who enjoy working in a group.
Does the type of guitar lesson matter?
After all this, does it truly matter what type of guitar lesson you get?
We would argue that, yes, it definitely matters because it should dovetail with how you're wired to learn.
For example, introverts and/or self-motivated learners don't do as well in group classes, or even with a tutor. Those people are probably better off learning guitar online where they can go at their own pace and be energized by working alone.
On the other side, extroverted learners do far better in a group or in a situation where there are other people involved.
Putting them in front of a computer or an iPad to work alone isn't going to be helpful to them.
So it's a question of what motivates you and what gets you excited to play guitar.
As that differs from person to person, the type of guitar lessons you take becomes extremely important.
How do I know which one is right for me?
We've written some content to help you figure out the type of learner you are with a quiz included. It'll help you determine whether you're an introverted learner or an extroverted/feedback-oriented learner.
You can also do some simple self-reflection and think about what makes you most excited. When are you motivated to do things and get stuff done? What makes it easier for you to understand something?
Is it researching a problem on your own and coming up with a solution?
Or perhaps it's bouncing an idea off a friend to come up with an answer?
Thinking about how you learn will help you identify which type of guitar lesson is going to be best-suited for you.
For something like guitar, you should enjoy the process and it shouldn't feel like another class you have to take. So think about how you learn and how you're able to most naturally engage.
Maybe that's in a classroom, with a teacher, or maybe it's just by yourself.
We'd argue that the answer to that question will have a lot to say about which type of guitar lessons will be most effective for you.
If you have questions about our take on guitar lesson types or perhaps just want to share your experience, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below and we'll get in touch.