This is an article I wrote for Steppin Out Magazine May 1st 2013.
Guitar Lessons 101
So, you've finally decided to dust off that guitar that's been sitting in the corner since Christmas. Now what? How are going to learn how to play? Do you buy a book? Should you buy video lessons? Or maybe you can save money and just learn from watching youtube videos? The answer is "none of the above".
What you need is a good guitar teacher! Contrary to popular belief, teaching yourself how to play is a bad idea. There are literally tons of books and videos out there that claim to be able to turn you into a great guitarist in no time at all. The problem is that none of them work. Nothing can ever replace a good qualified teacher sitting down and showing you how to play in a one on one private setting.
Playing the guitar involves countless nuances and details that can only be conveyed in a hands on, person to person setting. An easy way to understand the difference is this: Imagine trying to explain to a deaf person what the music of Jimi Hendrix sounds like. You could use every adjective in the English language and they still would not get the full picture. Now, imagine if just for a moment that deaf person could be able to actually hear the music. Even if it were only for a few seconds, that person would learn so much more in those few seconds than all the words you could think of to describe the music.
Having a good guitar teacher can open a whole new world for the student to enjoy. A teacher can give you new ideas and show you new ways of doing things you may never have thought of on your own. He can help you avoid common mistakes and bad habits that many players fall into. A good teacher can also save you many hours of practice time by showing you proper playing techniques. Learning songs can be a lot of fun. But if your technique is bad, you'll never be able to get the song sounding right. How frustrating is that??
If your teacher is just showing you songs and not spending equal time on improving your technique, then you most definitely need a new teacher. Having good technique opens doors and unleashes your full potential as a player.