It is a common expectation of those starting out to learn a new skill that they will be masterful experts within a short time. Learning any new skill takes time, patience, commitment, and devotion to the craft.
This article is for any beginner guitarist. After reading this article, you will have a greater understanding of what it takes to be a guitar player – before you even start learning. This isn’t a foolproof guide, but I hope to provide you with skills and tips on how to make sure that your guitar hobby doesn’t get thrown to the side, along with “all your closets of backlogged dreams,” to quote my favorite artist, Taylor Swift.
Buying your guitar
In order to start anything new, you need to make sure to buy the proper equipment. Good quality guitars can be expensive, so make sure this is really something you want to do before spending the money. Many people buy expensive guitars that end up leaning on the side of their bedroom wall until a parent sneaks in to secretly donate it to Goodwill; since it’s been ten years since their child “decided to learn how to play guitar” (not a personal story, but I’m sure something like this has happened).
When picking out your new best friend (your guitar, not a dog, if that wasn’t clear), make sure that your guitar properly fits your body, sits comfortably, and is good quality (meaning that it won’t break on you in three weeks).
After buying your guitar, make sure to take proper care of it! Frequently tune the strings (or whenever the app GuitarTuna indicates that your strings are out of tune), replace the strings every six months, dust when necessary, and DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT swing it around the house because it will break.
For all those folks who are unsure whether to start or continue learning guitar (or whether to continue reading this article), this is the time to back out! Once you commit, you fully commit. I suggest that you have someone close to you hold you accountable for this: a family member, friend, or teacher. I also suggest hiring a teacher who will annoy you every lesson by reminding you to practice every day.
Learning any new skill takes time, patience, commitment, and devotion to the craft.
Finding the perfect teacher
If you’re not sure how to find the right teacher, it’s your lucky day! Amphy offers lessons at affordable prices with different types of teachers from all over the world. (Obviously, I recommend myself, but there are other great teachers available with different focuses and skills. It’s all about finding the right teacher, one who checks all the boxes).
It is always recommended to have a teacher guide you in the process, but there is also an app called Yousician that is great at giving guitar lessons if you’re someone who works better with a computer, as opposed to other humans. (Seriously, no judgment, but I do recommend having an actual human teacher).
Once you find the right teacher, make sure that you’re consistent with lessons. I recommend lessons once a week for an hour-long, but different increments of time work for different people; different strokes for different folks. If you know that you’re someone whose attention span bridges approximately 30 minutes, don’t schedule a lesson for an hour long. This will be a waste of time for you and your teacher.
Furthermore, staying committed to lessons means setting aside a set time every week (or however often you choose to have lessons) where you’ll be able to give your undivided attention.
Amphy provides lessons online over Zoom with teachers in different time zones, living all over the world. I’ve heard people’s hesitations regarding the efficacy of learning an instrument over Zoom. Even if you generally work better in person, learning an instrument over Zoom is NOT the same as sitting in a lecture with a boring professor for hours on end. My students have told me that the experience is completely different.
Make sure to find an approach and/or focus that works for you. Once you’ve decided that this is what you really want to do and you know that you’re going to stick it out, especially in the times when learning is difficult, pick something to start with that interests you. Your teacher will try to cater to your focuses and interests. They may ask guided questions like, “What type of music do you listen to?” in order to set you on the right track. Even if you’re not exactly sure what interests you and why you want to learn guitar, your teacher will work together with you to help you outline your interests and set goals for your playing.
Practice, practice, practice
Last but not least, make sure to practice. Even if it’s hard to see progress at first, don’t despair. You will sooner rather than later see that your calluses have been tortured for a reason – a good reason! Learning any new skill takes time, energy, and lots of effort. This is something you may have to frequently remind yourself. Don’t lose hope!
If you’ve managed to read this far in the article, then you’re good to go! Learning how to play guitar is not a piece of cake. It requires the following:
1) Making sure to invest in the right equipment.
2) Making sure to take proper care of your guitar.
3) Making sure that you’re 100% devoted to learning guitar – it’s not going to be easy.
4) Doing research to find the right teacher that can curate a lesson plan that is compatible with your focuses and interests.
5) Setting aside a set amount of time every week for lessons and practice. Consistency is key.
6) Making sure to tell your teacher what you want to learn. If you’re not interested in what you’re learning, lessons will become chore-like and boring.
7) Even when it gets difficult, don’t despair – it will be difficult at times, but if you go in knowing this you will be better prepared.
8) Finally, remember to have fun!
Meet Eliana Hirsch.