In this post series, I aim to share some helpful insight to help with guitar lessons and learning, or for that matter any instrument learning journey. I’m aiming to update this series weekly, where I can!

So, here is post #1!

The What, How and Why of Guitar Lessons.

Oftentimes, when I take on a new student for guitar or ukulele lessons, I’m tasked with a variation of the same problem –

‘I’ve been learning guitar for [an amount of time] and I don’t feel I’m making progress. I’ve tried learning on YouTube but I just end up demotivated and confused’.

Sound familiar?

The problem with learning guitar using YouTube or pre-recorded video lessons is twofold.

It is often the case that the our knowledge – especially in the early stages – hasn’t yet been sufficiently developed to recognise the gaps in our learning and how to bridge them. Therefore, our understanding of what, how, and essentially why we need to practise is often skewed.

We then take this lack of understanding, and through this lens we watch other musicians play and perform on the guitar. We remain unaware that an individual’s technical proficiency, experience, awareness and sense of direction helps them understand what, how, and essentially why they need to learn and improve.

When we don’t understand our own what, how, and why when learning guitar, this can be the springboard to negative self narrative, which manifests itself as a lack of motivation to develop traction towards our goals.

A desire to avoid our guitar practise means we don’t progress, which then becomes a negative cycle. As a result, we become dissatisfied. This cycle is something everyone experiences to varying degrees. I think of it as ‘The Circle of Practise’.

A diagram of ‘The Circle of Practise’

The Circle of Practise can be positive, too. To enter a positive cycle causes enthusiasm towards our progress and a deep knowledge and feeling that we are on the right track. We become satisfied. We feel happy, content, and we can see the direction we are heading on our guitar learning journey.

This is the key difference between each and every one of us; it is the way we deal with this lack of motivation in the moment it happens. Some people are naturally more able than others to direct themselves, and know to make changes when something isn’t working for them. This leads me to a notion…

Expecting a different result each time we repeat the same failing guitar learning process is futile.

It also isn’t our fault, especially in a world so full of distractions. It is very difficult today to find reliable, meaningful guitar lessons that cater for the individual needs of each of us. Further, learning from the likes of YouTube doesn’t offer any personalised feedback.

This means that we could learn and practise mistakes or poor technique. Worse still, we may completely misunderstand the lesson we are trying to learn. This is entirely counter productive.

This is where a skilled, professional teacher can help. A structured routine from someone with the practical experience to teach us as a musicians and the emotional intelligence to guide you as a person is essential. Our success is unique to us, so this is the least we should expect from our guitar teachers.

Having a teacher with high expectations of us also means that we’ll be more likely to see a task through. This accountability is golden if we struggle as a self-starter. That same watchful eye should also help us break down any barriers to learning into small, manageable chunks.

Without the watchful eye of a skilled and passionate guitar teacher, our learning outcomes will rarely develop. We may needlessly continue to beat ourselves up about our own progress. We may even wrongfully blame ourselves!

I don’t want that to happen.

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