What should you expect at your first guitar lesson ever?
These days, guitar lessons can take one of two forms: They can either occur in person with a tutor, or they can be streamed online from a pre-recorded video series. The two experiences are fairly different, so we'll treat them both separately.
My assumption is that you're talking about a lesson in person with a tutor, perhaps at a local music shop, education company, or a tutor in their living room or yours.
Let's deal with that scenario first.
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What to Expect with your first In-Person Guitar Tutor
While there are always variables that you can't predict, there are several things that should be consistent with someone's first guitar lesson experience, assuming they're visiting a tutor. Let's go through these items one at a time.
1. Expect to spend around 30 minutes to 1 hour
Chances are the time of the lesson has already been established, but just in case you weren't sure, this is the most consistent variable when it comes to tutored guitar lessons. The amount of time you spend will usually be 30 minutes or an hour, depending on the teacher's policy and payment arrangement.
2. Expect to chat about your current skill level
A good guitar teacher will try to get a feel for where you're at with your instrument and where you want to go. In fact, your first lesson could be surprisingly thin on guitar and heavy on discussion about your playing, what kind of music you're interested in and what you want to learn.
3. Expect some butterflies
It's only human to be nervous in this context, especially if you're going into someone's home or a business that you've never been in before. This is especially true if you don't know your teacher, which means there will also be a "warming up" period where you'll need to get to know one another and develop a greater degree of social comfort.
4. Expect to have more fun than you thought
If you want to learn guitar and you're excited about figuring the instrument out, then a guitar lesson should absolutely be fun. Despite the nerves and despite the work of learning, my guess is that you'll find a lot of enjoyment is sitting down and being taught how to do something that otherwise would be completely foreign to you.
5. Expect whiteboard style teaching
If you're starting out with the basics, much of what you'll learn in your first guitar lesson will be best explained with a whiteboard, again with less emphasis on holding and playing your guitar. Things like strings, tuning, parts of the guitar, fretboard notes, and chord diagrams are all going to be explained more theory and less as practical application. In other words, don't be too anxious to just get to playing. It'll happen.
What to Expect with your first Online Guitar Lesson
If you're going to be using an online course, the experience of your first guitar lesson will be slightly different. As with the tutor situation, there are variables that can't be predicted and are dependent on which website you use. If you're looking for help choosing an online guitar lesson program, give the following quiz a spin to see what it recommends for you.
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Regardless of where you land on a program, there are some predictable things you can expect for your first few online lessons.
1. Expect really short videos
Online guitar courses are almost always delivered in a streamble video format, where each video is typically less than five minutes in length. What you'll find is that you'll go through multiple videos, then take time to practice what you've learned. This means that one "lesson" or "module" - as they're sometimes called - can include around five videos before you'd cover 30 minutes or an hours worth of material.
2. Expect a certain element of self-teaching
Online guitar lessons, while convenient and popular, still require a strong element of being able to self-teach and self-motivate. Even for your first guitar lesson, expect to be responsible for practicing and applyin the material on your own after the video or series of videos has concluded.
3. Expect to pause and re-watch
It's absolutely okay to pause and re-watch the videos in an online guitar course. In fact, that's one of the biggest advantages of a program online. You can rewind and replay the content as much as you want, which isn't as easy when you're getting a lesson from a tutor. Don't be surprised if you regularly pause, rewind, or slow-down a video to get a better feel for what's being explained or demonstrated to you.
4. Expect to fight distraction
Any time you have a device in your hand or a computer in front of you, you're going to be tempted by distraction. Even if you're genuinely interested in the subject matter, the lure of social media, sports, and news sites are difficult to resist. When taking guitar lessons online, be ready for these temptations and make sure to get away from the device whenever you're done with the streamable material and ready for independent practice.
As I've said, there are plenty of variables that are hard to account for ahead of time. The personality of your teacher, the speed/reliability of your internet connection, whether or not you'll be able to focus, and plenty of other unknowns are part of the process.
However, what we've covered for both types of guitar lessons are likely to be part of your first guitar lesson experience.
The only way to truly find out what it's like is to get those first few lessons under your belt and really start learning the guitar and having fun with music. Guitar lessons shouldn't necessarily feel boring or like hard work. It's work, certainly, but it should feel fun and have a strong element of enjoyment to it.
Hopefully that's your experience moving forward.
Do you have questions about taking your first guitar lessons, or perhaps a story about your first guitar lesson experience? If so, drop us a line in the comments section below and we'll chat.