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teacher or no?

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Active Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 7
Topic starter  

I am a beginner, both to the site and the guitar. I am also a lefty that plays lefty and just got my first true left handed guitar Fender DG10. Ive been playing about 3 months now w/o a teacher (time constraints, finding a good one, stubborn etc..). i have used this sites resources a great deal to set a practice schedule and learn. im wondering, do i really have to or rather need to get a teacher at some point. I set my practice schedule and have been doing pretty good. I dont use tons of different sites to gather info (unless im already on the topic and im looking for something). Right now im learning the major scales 2nd position, amazing grace (pretty much got that), hey hey my my( just started), hurt (midway- i know the song but cant sing it w/ the guitar c/ of timing) chord changing among the most used chords and a few blues licks. Plus i warm up with a few basic scales. My plan is to keep progressing through the scales and the songs for now.

My problems are:
Timing; i cant sing to the songs i know w/o getting confused.
barre chords: simply having a hell of a time with them.
music theory: not sure the best approach to take toward learning what i need to know

any advice, tips, or constructive criticism would be helpful to help me widen my perspective and move along in my playing.

Thanks - T.Ray

Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342

If you have time to get to a teacher, and can afford to do it, then certainly grab hold of half a dozen lessons to get your basics on a good footing. Do take more lessons if everything permits - you'll realise the benefits.

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 135

After years of playing around with the guitar, I had my first lesson last Saturday. I took my time (months) looking for a teacher, he charges twice as much as the local music stores but as a working studio musician I was hoping I wouldn't be disappointed. In the one hour we had, he asked what I wanted, had me demonstrate how far along I was, explained his methodology and how it would help me. I came in knowing the Pentatonic scale (Fm and Bm positions), two forms of Barre chords ( I have strong but slow fingers), notes on the fretboard, open and power chords. I came out knowing Major and Minor 7ths (love the way they sound), a slow blues pattern, minor forms of the open chords - in addition to homework to practice before this Saturday's lesson. He also asked me for a couple of songs I want to learn and he would tab them out. I selected two George Benson plays; "Dinorah, Dinorah" and "Affirmation". The first one he didn't know about but liked, and when he started playing Affirmation from memory I couldn't stop grinning. I'm so excited, I can hardly wait for the next lesson. I'm also going to throw in Acoustic Alchemy's "Jamaican Heartbeat". I was not disappointed.

I'm looking forward to reading music, increasing fingering speed, finger postion memory and learning finger-picking (he plays with or without a pick), and from years of playing around on bass I keep getting the urge to drop the pick myself. He told me learning to play well can be difficult but it's never as hard as you think it is. I believe him.

I highly recommend a teacher. :D

"...I don't know - but whasomever I do, its gots ta be FUNKY!"

Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 5381


That's the thing with teachers, you have to find one that fits your style and can teach you what you want to learn. You have to make sure you tell them what you want to learn if they don't ask. And uh...if they don't ask, go find a different teacher.

Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 141

I wish i had gone in for one sooner.

When you wanna rock hard children, lean on F sharp

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 3454


Nobody ever really learns without a teacher, yet everybody is also largely self-taught. :)

How so?? :?


You learn from a book - The author is your teacher, you just can't see or hear them.
You learn from listening to CDs - The musicians on the tracks are your teachers.
You learn from a website like this - Other people on the same wavelength can help
You learn from friends - Friends who play can be the best of teachers (or the worst... :wink: )

Self taught:

The teacher can tell you or show you, but they can't make your hands or your brain do the job. The real progress is made during all those hours of practice that you do to build in what you've learnt. No practice no progress. Everybody learns how it really feels and works when they're putting in the time on their own. And you learn new things for yourself that way too.

So what does a face to face teacher offer?

Feedback - a book can't see that your posture is wrong, pick up why your timing is rubbish, your changes are inefficient, or whatever - and can't talk back to you.

Direction - Most of us go through stages where we lose the sense of where to go next with our music, what we need to focus on, what kind of music our emerging musical character would best suit, or whatever. A good teacher has the experience to give general guidance and direction, not just technical information.

Motivation - I think that the single biggest thing that a good teacher can provide is the motivation to keep going through the crap bits and flat spots, and the continuing inspiration and knowledge that you can be a little better every week.

So is a teacher worth the money?

Finding the right teacher is like trying to establish any other sort of good partnership - neither automatic nor easy. A bad or mediocre teacher can be an annoying waste of time and money, and can actually dull your interest in music. A good one can be worth their weight in gold. It helps if you can identify what your main problems and interests are (which you seem to be doing :) ) but you can't do all of that in advance. Some things don't show up until you get to a certain place, and your view of everything changes a bit as you go along anyway. But as long as you can find a teacher that you can get along with, and you can both talk backwards and forwards about all the issues that arise, then it can be an excellent way to progress.

I've taken some lessons in piano, guitar, bass, drums and clarinet, and don't regret any of it. My usual pattern is to have enough lessons to get a feel for what I might be missing by using the 'unseen teachers' listed above. I cover the basics, ask about what 'bad habits' you can get into without a teacher, and so on. When I feel like I've got a decent view of the road ahead then I tend to go my own way. If I ever did find a really good teacher I would be happy to stay for longer (so far they've been a mixed bag - a couple of duds, but mostly good.) Also, if I start to feel stuck or out of my depth then I'd look for somebody to help with that aspect. Fortunately, I now play with a group, and some of the members also do some teaching part time. So between the bunch of us there's not much that we can't work out. But we'd all be happy to pay for specialist advice if we needed it. Some of the world's top players and singers still see tutors and coaches on a regular basis, just like professional sports people do.

Good luck with it all.


Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 19

All excellent replies to help you. Here's my 2 cents:

I started with group lessons - cheap and fun and taught me strumming and open chords but you move at a slower pace.

Went at it on my own for a few months before getting into private lessons. When on my own I found I didn't move forward as quickly as I hoped because I got bogged down on certain things.

Lessons can be expensive but they keep me motivated, I no longer get bogged down and I have been challenged to try things I would never have done on my own and as a result have learned a lot more and have advanced much quicker.

If you can find a suitable teacher at a reasonable price go for it!

If you are happy with the results you are achieving on your own, save your cash for that dream guitar!

Trusted Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 54

Tray07, here's my 2cents +1 Chric C
I went at it on my own for a year or so and completely lost direction. My music teacher from high school offers lessons, but I didn't think he would teach me what I wanted to play so I went with a couple different younger guys, both flaked out on me after about 4 lessons each. I thought, I might as well call Chuck (hs music teacher) after my first lesson I couldn't believe I didn't go to him sooner. He is teaching me the style I want to play (blues rock) and even better, after 20 years of not seeing me he remembered that I have no sense of pitch and my timing is terrible. :lol:

A week after my first lesson I can play Ode to Joy and Blues for My Dog blind folded in my sleep. :lol: :lol: (It's the little accomplishments that keep me going)

I guess what I'm saying is a teacher can help you by correcting you immediately instead of letting you develop bad habits that stick with you forever, and also give you direction so you can learn faster and continue to progress instead of stalling out.
Most important is have fun with it. When it starts to become work and frustration put it down for a while then come back to it. You will be amazed at the difference 15 minutes and a cold beer can make. :D

ROCK ON!!!! :note1: :note2:


Where am I going....and why am I in this hand basket?

Reputable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 232

My problems are:
Timing; i cant sing to the songs i know w/o getting confused.
barre chords: simply having a hell of a time with them.
music theory: not sure the best approach to take toward learning what i need to know

I've had a few lessons, but I'm so enthused that I'm learning more from other sources very quickly. It makes the lessons always a catchup on what I've learned without the teacher! I've picked up a little from both teacher and a band member friends, but not enough to justify more lessons yet.

Timing: I cant sing and play very well either. I'm devastated, because I can play a few really good tunes but can't do them justice because of this. I can just about manage to play Help! by the Beatles, Trouble by Coldplay and the hardest one is also the best sounding one The Drugs Dont Work by Travis(correct?).

Barre Chords: My breakthrough on this was realising I could point the neck of the guitar away from the parallel it often sits. This seemed to release the pressure on my wrist and really helps you apply the rotation and pressure. The other thing that got me playing these with less despair is an awesome song you love. Nothing better to give you a reason to practice.

Music Theory: I think the best way is to simply pay attention and read a lot. Make sure you ask yourself questions like 'Why is this chord a G?', stay inquisitive and immerse yourself in music.

I'm only 4 months in and I'm over the moon with what I can play, and so enthused still. I'm only really stopping to give my fingers a rest. :mrgreen:

Noble Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 1735

Chris C just gave some good advice.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."