Written by Bobby
Parent article: Guitar Lessons 101
QUICK HIT: How many guitar lessons do you need before you can start to move out on your own into application of what you've learned?
Most beginners who start taking guitar lessons need roughly four to five months of lessons covering topical material before they can start to develop their own style of playing and creative expression.
While this certainly depends on a number of variables that are difficult to predict, the general trajectory of weekly guitar lessons looks like this:
- Four to five months of topical instruction (16 to 20 lessons)
- Four to five additional months of application (16 to 20 lessons)
The first four to five months are more necessary, as your instructor (or instructors) are helping you lay down topical and foundational knowledge related to things like chords, scales and music theory. If you limit your standards to simply knowing the structural basics, this means that it takes around 20 guitar lessons before you can sort of "strike out on your own" as an independent guitarist.
At this point, a lot of people opt for an online guitar lesson program, where they can start to hone in on styles and learn at their own pace.
Others, who might prefer the personal tutoring learning model, will continue taking lessons to learn practical application or more in-depth topics. It's not uncommon at this stage for an entire hour-long guitar lesson to be devoted to learning a song or some other aspect of performing.
Variables to Consider
As I mentioned before, these time frames are highly dependent on several variables that are difficult to predict. Things like the amount of time you spend practicing at home, your own natural skill or even the cost of the guitar lessons you're taking can all have an impact on how long it takes you.
The goal of guitar lessons is not necessarily to "not need" guitar lessons.
Here are some other variables to consider:
- Practice time you spend
- Your goals as a guitarist (casual, semi-pro, pro, etc.)
- Your own natural musical abilities (has a lot to do with how fast you progress)
- How often you take guitar lessons and how much they cost
You should also keep in mind that the goal of guitar lessons is not necessarily to "not need" guitar lessons. Even for seasoned musicians who are really good, there's benefit from continuing to learn and pursue their instrument. There's always going to be benefit there, which means you shouldn't be overly anxious to be beyond needing lessons.
What if I'm a more self-motivated and independent learner?
If you're the type of music student that enjoys the guitar and finds it easy to pursue on your own time, there's going to be less of a need for you to take lessons. You'll at least shorten the number of lessons that might be necessary for you to really take off as a player.
This is because self-motivated learners tend to be more naturally gifted and interested in the topic, without having to be pushed by a teacher or tutor.
Those kinds of players will rely less on lessons and more on their own intellectual and hobby-based pursuit of the instrument, without needing to sit down with a teacher. Lessons can still benefit those players, but they just won't need as many of them to succeed.
Try to Avoid Worrying about "How Many" Guitar Lessons to Take
I've taken and given a lot of guitar lessons in my day and I can tell a huge difference between the people (and teachers) that want to be there and those that view lessons as a means to an end. And yes, they are a means to an end, but you should still be able to enjoy the process. You should look forward to guitar lessons, especially if you're a beginner.
Try to avoid counting the number of lessons before you've "arrived" as a guitarist, because you'll never really feel like that has happened.
I've been playing guitar for over 20 years (at the time of writing this) and I still feel like there's a massive amount of material I'm not good at or haven't had a chance to learn yet. It's a long process, so don't worry too much about how many lessons it takes to get there.
Just enjoy the ride and build knowledge structures that will allow you to form your own playing style, specialties and creative niches.