For most people, private lessons are the best way to learn guitar. Simply put, a teacher spending time with a student, one on one, creates a great environment in which to learn. However, private lessons are not without their issues. In fact, there are numerous potential problems with private lessons. The following list reviews five of the most common problems students encounter when taking private guitar lessons.
Price. Presently, in California, lessons with a well-qualified guitar instructor will cost you about $ 100 a month. You can find cheaper instructors, especially if you are willing to sacrifice qualifications. However, $ 100 a month is the ballpark price you should expect to pay. For this price, you typically get four half-hour lessons, scheduled once a week (possibly with an occasional tweak). Price is the single largest reason why people who are otherwise interested in guitar lessons choose not to take them.
Geography. It is just a simple fact of practicality, if you want to take guitar lessons where you and the instructor meet face to face, you are necessarily limited to a small set of guitar instructors who live nearby. In some areas, very good guitar instructors are available; in other areas, not so much. And if you are placing additional constraints on the type of guitar instructor that you want, e.g. must specialize in Jazz, the likelihood of you finding the perfect instructor is lower, sometimes significantly lower.
Limited Instructional Materials. Guitar instructors vary substantially in terms of how much and what types of written instructional material they provide. Some work through lesson books (usually for note reading). Most provide an occasional handout on various topics, e.g. the pentatonic minor scale. Also, many will tab out (as in tablature) certain guitar parts, especially parts of songs. However, even with these different written materials, much of the one-on-one instruction is often not written down or recorded in any form that can be referenced by the student in the future. As a consequence, this scenario requires that either the student be exceptionally diligent about recording the information learned during the weekly lessons or that the student occasionally spends time rehashing previously learned material.
Diversity of approach. Learning from an excellent guitar instructor is a great experience. Learning from multiple excellent guitar instructors is even better. Sometimes it is beneficial to experience how different instructors approach the various topics involved with teaching the guitar. Some will emphasize certain aspects of playing over other aspects. Some will have a multitude of live playing experience and interesting anecdotes. Some will be structured and disciplined. Others will be laid back and concentrate on having fun. By being exposed to different teaching styles, you can better understand which styles really work for you. Of course, most people who take guitar lessons and stick with them tend to stay with one instructor. Understandably, students have a real reluctance to leave a guitar instructor once they have established a working relationship. Unfortunately, this type of reluctance sometimes results in students having too limited an exposure to teaching styles.
Schedule. The problem with a good guitar instructor is that he probably has approximately 60 other students besides you. Finding a time slot that works for both you and the instructor may be a bit of a challenge. However, this problem is usually more of a pain than a deal breaker. Likely, you’ll be able to find some time that is mutually acceptable. Furthermore, if you stick with the instructor, you may well be able to move the time slot to one that is more nearly ideal as the inevitable schedule reshuffling happens.
Again, private guitar lessons are, under many circumstances, the best way to learn how to play the guitar. The above list is not intended to denigrate the value of private guitar lessons, but rather to accurately describe some of the issues associated with them. With the advent of modern technology, there are multiple alternatives to private guitar lessons, including DVD-based instruction and online guitar lessons. While both of these approaches address some of the issues associated with private guitar lessons, they also have certain problems of their own.
If you are seeking out guitar instruction, I encourage you to thoughtfully consider all available options and determine which type, or types, of guitar instruction will work best for you. The important point is to make sure that you get some type of real, high-quality instruction. Good instruction, complemented with a healthy dose of structured practice, will put you squarely on the path to becoming an excellent guitar player.