There are a lot of people out there looking for new guitars, and almost as many of them aren't yet looking for teachers. We've previously written about finding a good guitar as a beginner, so now we're going to approach finding a good guitar teacher. Or rather, why you should be looking for a teacher, if you haven’t already got one.
Learning the Basics
Learning the basics of guitar playing should be easy, and you can almost certainly grasp them on your own. With a little help from guitar books, the internet and a lot of trial and error. Within a few weeks or months, you might have mastered some of the really basic elements of guitar all by yourself.
With a guitar teacher, you can probably learn the same amount in just a lesson or two. By having someone to oversee what you're doing, correcting your finger placement, timing and general technique, all of the barriers that make it difficult to teach yourself are removed.
When learning by yourself, you will likely have a moment where everything simply 'clicks', and now you understand what you've been reading, and how you're actually supposed to apply it. With a teacher, this epiphany should happen much earlier, and even before it comes it won't hamper your growth.
Even if it's only to learn the basics, having a guitar teacher will get you past one of the most difficult guitar learning hurdles so you don't fall before you've even begun.
Technique is not the only important aspect of learning guitar. If all you want to do is be able to play a few of your favourite songs, then that may be the case, but if you want to be able to play guitar for yourself then learning the theory of music is a necessity. Whether you want to play in a band, write your own music, play music on demand or just be able to jam out occasionally, knowing what a guitar is capable of, and how, and why, are all very important.
Guitar teachers teach you more than just how to play, they teach you how to understand how you play, and why. The ability to read music and learning scales are just the start of it. Understanding why certain chords are used in certain songs, rather than just playing them because they're there, will help you become a better musician quicker.
These are things that you can learn by yourself, but it's much easier to learn from a teacher who already knows them and can help you to understand them.
There are some elements of playing guitar, and music in general, that you probably aren't even aware you should be learning. It might be the fact that certain chords can be played in multiple ways. It might be the elements of music theory mentioned above. It could be anything. Trying to teach yourself guitar is like trying to reach a destination without a map. Just because you know where you want to be, it doesn't mean you know anything about how to get there.
Suffice to say, a guitar teacher will be able to pick up on what you don't know, and teach you without you ever having to ask. All you need to do is tell them where you're trying to go, and your teacher will help you get there.
Your Individual Flaws
One thing that you will never be able to get from a book or website is that personal level of teaching that you can get from a guitar teacher. If you learn to play by yourself, it's easy to start picking up bad habits, without even noticing them, or miss out on the simple, good habits that help you feel comfortable and become a good guitarist.
When your guitar teacher watches and listens to you play, they are also watching how you do things, and listening for the flaws in your playing that you probably won't notice yourself. Without someone correcting you, you're sure to end up with bad habits that effect you in the long term, and there's nothing that a website or book can do that will show you these in real life.
Going the Right Direction
If you've decided to learn guitar, you almost certainly have a reason, and an idea in mind of what style of guitar you want to play. You might want to be the next Slash, or you may prefer Cash. Beyond the basics, there's a big difference in what you should learn in order to play like your heroes, or for your own sake.
A good music teacher will help you realise your goals, even if it doesn't seem that way to you. You won't be wasting time on techniques you're never going to use, and you'll reach your goal that much sooner.
Whether it's the motivation to keep on going when you're finding it tough, or just the simple motivation to actually do your practice every day, a guitar teacher is a great way to make sure you keep motivated. It's easy for you to believe that you'll do your practice every day, and some hard working guitar learners will, but a lot of people only last so long, and then find better things to do, letting guitar practice fall by the wayside in the meantime.
Your teacher often doesn't even have to say anything. Just the knowledge that you have 'homework', or that you need to go back week after week and show improvement, or even the fact that you're bothering to spend money on it, is often motivation enough. If you're just teaching yourself, it's much harder to make sure you keep that motivation going.
Finding a good guitar teacher isn't hard. You can find plenty of guitar teachers in your local area by visiting MusicTeachers.co.uk, on online database of music teachers in the UK.