You’ve made the decision to take guitar lessons, and you’re ready to get going. Ready to learn your favorite guitar solos. Ready for the limelight with your own songs. Ready to impress someone special with your guitar skills. Perhaps you’ve even got your own guitar and find yourself strumming it here or there. Choosing to take guitar lessons is a fantastic decision, and it’s even better that you’re eager to get started.
But before you get started, there are a few things to expect and a few things to do to prepare. Understanding what to expect will help you learn to play the guitar better and more quickly, and improve your overall learning experience. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Learning Will Take Time and Effort
Most beginners start music lessons hoping to be ready to perform in short order. But mastering the guitar won’t happen overnight, especially if you’re unfamiliar with fundamental skills like reading music. But don’t worry. As long as you attend your lessons and practice regularly (between 15 and 60 minutes per practice session), you’ll learn to play the guitar well enough to play the songs we dreamed of playing.
Not Understanding Everything is Normal
Whether you have some basic understanding of music theory, experience with another instrument, or have never taken another lesson before, it doesn’t matter. We work with students at all experience levels and don’t expect you to know everything — or anything — when you walk in the door. Learning is what you’re here for, after all.
We understand that everyone’s learning style and pace are different. If you can’t seem to get the proper guitar posture right away, have trouble remembering your guitar’s parts, or have difficulty tuning your instrument, it’s ok. Relax and take a deep breath. We’ll help you learn and make the proper adjustments.
Mastery is a Continuous Process
Learning to play standards and being able to riff like Joe Bonamassa are two different skill levels. Here at Grace Music School, we’ll give you the tools you need for both. But if you’re serious about your goals, you’ll need to spend more time practicing at home. For the best results, increase the number of days you practice rather than the amount of time you practice each day, as the longer your practice session lasts, the less focused it will be. When it comes to music education, shorter, focused practice sessions are better than longer ones.
The jury is still out on just how much practice you need to master an instrument, but not the necessity of consistent practice itself. But we also know that practice isn’t all you need. You’ll also want to immerse yourself in opportunities to learn about music, whether taking additional music classes at school, attending concerts featuring skilled guitarists, or watching music documentaries.
Down Days Are Normal
There will be days when you’re enthusiastic and ready to practice and days when you aren’t. This is normal, and there will times when you need a break from practicing. The most important thing is to come back to it. And while you may occasionally be frustrated at your rate of progress, the only way to succeed is to keep at it. Conversely, the only way to fail is to quit. Remember that frustration is temporary and that mastery takes consistent effort over time. Keep at it, and you’ll be soloing before you know it.
Keeping these items in mind before and during your lessons will help you get the most out of them. Still eager to get started? In addition to knowing what to expect, you can take several concrete steps to prepare yourself for success.
Establish Clear Goals
While you’re not expected to know much coming into your first lesson, it’s helpful to know what kind of music you’d like to learn to play. This way, we can select the best instructor and instruction method for you. It’s also helpful to know your preferred playing style — fingerstyle or pick, but not absolutely necessary before your first lesson. Ask yourself what kinds of songs you would like to play and your goals. Be prepared to share this with your instructor. The more information we have, the more we can tailor our lessons to your goals.
Also, keep in mind that your first lesson is a starting point. Just because you start wanting to play jazz doesn’t mean you’re locked into that for the rest of your life or the course of our lessons. Ideally, over time you’ll learn multiple styles and types of music, but it’s essential to have a clear starting point so that we can teach you effectively, set goals, and help you progress.
Determine What Equipment You’ll Need
Of course, to learn to play a guitar, you’ll need an actual guitar. Now, you don’t need to ask your parents for two grand for a top-of-the-line Gibson Les Paul to get started. There are plenty of affordable beginner guitars on the market like the Yamaha LL6 ARE, Taylor GS Mini, or Ibanez AW54CE, which cost a couple of hundred bucks. If you’re entirely new to guitar playing, reach out to us before your first lesson, so we can help you exactly understand what you’ll need.
If you’re learning electric guitar, you will need cables and an amplifier. It’s also helpful to have method books and sheet music at home with which to practice. Again, contact us before your first lesson starts, so we can help you make the right purchases.
Consider Scheduling Practice Time Now
You’ll learn to play the guitar well much faster if you commit to a regular practice schedule. Consider setting aside time in your schedule to practice for up to an hour. Placing it in your planner or on your email calendar now can help reinforce your commitment to your goal of learning guitar and help you stay motivated to make progress towards your music goals.
Remember, everyone’s musical journey is different, but for beginners, it always starts slowly. We start by teaching you the basics until you’ve mastered the tools we need to play simple melodies and songs. Once you’ve got the tools under your belt, the sky is the limit. But mastery doesn’t happen overnight, and there is always something else to learn. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll be rocking stages soon enough. And at Grace Music School, we’re ready to help you learn and master the guitar. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your first lesson.