How can guitar lessons help make you a better guitar player?
It may seem obvious to some that guitar lessons simply teach you, and that's true.
There are ways they help you that might go unnoticed to someone who hasn't had guitar lessons before or has little/no experience in the realm of music education.
In this article we'll highlight some of the ways that a series of guitar lessons can help you improve and ultimately make you a better musician. We'll also talk about some of the basic aspects of music education and learning.
We'll look at:
- Repeated exposure
- Speed of development
And that's just to name a few.
If you're on the fence about taking guitar lessons, this article will help you see how lessons can help you and how they can ultimately fast-track your learning to make you a better guitar player.
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1. Optimizing practice time
The first way guitar lessons make you better is by optimizing your practice time.
This means that in a short period of time, guitar lessons tell you what you should be practicing and how to spend your practice time away from the lesson itself. Ultimately this shortens the time you spend getting to the application stages of learning, which means you get to play riffs and songs quicker than you would have without lessons showing you where to focus.
It's about narrowing the scope of what you're working on and only working on things that help you advance, yet without skipping any important concepts.
It's also about knowing what to practice and what to work on outside of your lesson time so you can progress quicker.
Guitar lessons help you do this is a way that you can't do on your own.
2. Organizing topics
Topical organization is a big part of why we recommend taking some form of guitar lessons. Whether it's online or in-person, guitar lessons should organize your content in an effective and structured way.
This helps to insure that you don't "jump the gun" and learn topics without first laying down the proper foundation for each topic you intend to cover.
For example, you probably shouldn't be working on scales if you haven't already covered single notes thoroughly, as a concept.
Or, you might cover scales before covering intervals:
- Single notes
When it should have gone in this order:
- Single notes
Good structure would help you work your way up to scales instead of throwing you into them right away. Whenever you pay for guitar lessons, this organization and structure is a huge part of what you're paying for.
3. Shortening time spent memorizing patterns
Everyone who learns guitar needs to learn patterns.
Scales and chords are present in a pattern form, which means we have to be comfortable with pattern memorization.
It does not mean we need to spend a ton of time just memorizing chords and scales without purpose. If that's what past guitar lessons have done for you, that's not a very good or sustainable education model.
Because, honestly, it's just very boring and not entirely necessary.
Instead, good guitar lessons can shorten the time you spend memorizing patterns by the following:
- Making sure you only memorize the most important and tactically helpful patterns
- Helping you get through memorization to retention quicker
- Providing application help for easier memorization
As you apply what you've memorized, you'll have a much easier time retaining it. That's what your guitar lessons should be helping you do.
4. Helping you learn songs
For as long as guitar lessons have been around, they've been used as a vehicle to teach songs and help people become better performers. The high end guitar lesson programs and companies will also license this music and display proper tab sheets, in addition to the one-on-one instruction.
Guitar teachers, teaching in person, will often have access to resources that allow them to print tab sheets out and use them in their lessons.
Here's a cover that I did from picking up on a song lesson:
As you get better at guitar, learning and playing songs becomes one of the most functional and straightforward ways to apply what you're leaning.
If you're playing songs you like, you'll be far more likely to advance and get better quickly.
5. Helping you understand how you learn
Guitar lessons are about more than just learning guitar.
They're also about understanding your own tendencies and wiring, and getting a feel for how you learn and absorb information. At the end of the day, you should be able to take aspects of your guitar lessons and apply them to learning other things.
- Learning topics before applying them
- Retention and memory habits
- Understanding structures and patterns
All of these ideas are related to how you learn and how you're wired to understand a given concept. When someone is able to teach you an idea and how to learn, that's an extremely helpful arrangement.
It applies not just to guitar, but to other areas of learning and other aspects of music education.
A lot of people question whether guitar lessons are worth it, or whether it's better to be entirely self-taught.
The problem is that guitar lessons and self teaching don't have to exclude one another.
You can be self-taught while still taking guitar lessons.
The difference is that someone who is self-taught but still takes lessons, will have an easier time knowing what to study and where to put their time while they're self-teaching. Because the reality is that every guitar player is self-taught. The difference with people who take lessons is that their work tends to be more structured and optimized.
Your practice time will count for more if you take lessons and let someone help you figure out what to focus on and where to put your time and energy.
If you have questions or thoughts about how guitar lessons can help you - or a story about how they have helped you - feel free to share via the comments section below and we'll chat about it.