I’ve decided sometime ago, as one major part of this blog, to give free guitar lessons as long as I can add 2 + 2 without having to look at my feet. Basically share everything I know, everything I’m learning, and everything I’m going to learn in the future.
You know you’ve had enough with guitar teachers or schools or DVD lessons that promise this and that but make you spend more. Music was never meant to take away from you. It’s meant to give, isn’t it? Taking lessons should inspire, not make you want to give up. There are no universal formulas to learning the guitar, or music in general. Just formulas that you come up with to help your own music.
I used to give one on one (sometimes one on two) lessons some years ago until I stopped enjoying it. I did, however, learn from years of playing and from the little bit of teaching that: There’s no better time to learn the guitar than the present. Because:
1) Age doesn’t matter and size doesn’t matter. I’ve taught beginners from ages 9 to folks who were decades older. When I’d once complained to my Flamenco guitar teacher, Dennis Koster, that I had short fingers, therefore making me less apt to reach some of those notes, he proceeded to show me that indeed he had shorter fingers than mine.
2) You don’t have to know how to read music to learn and play the guitar well. I know a little but a pre-school kid can kick my ass in that. Besides how many of your favorite guitarists could read music?
3) You can develop a good ear for music with time. I used to have a neighbor tune my guitar back when I was starting out. Couldn’t tell the difference between one open string from the other. He would never say no and would always say, “give it a little more time and you’ll hear it too.” I had a terrible sense of rhythm. Worked on it and it got better. There’s always always room for improvement no matter what stage you’re in.
4) You don’t have to learn music note for note. What’s the point? Even when you’re doing cover versions of famous songs why go crazy with perfection? Your audience doesn’t care. They care if the radically different version of the famous song still has heart the way you do it.
5) You don’t have to practice hours upon hours to be decent, or good. Only a few have that privilege, dedication and will to spend that kind of time on an instrument. Of course your spending more time with your instrument will give you more kick to take it to the ass but you live in the 21st century; there are dozens of other cool things craving for your attention each day.
6) You learn great many things from the unlikeliest sources in this planet. You might not learn the best lessons from a musician who plays your instrument, or even a musician. Lessons and inspirations come in many shapes and forms.
7) This is the most important. Others will look down on you and make you feel small for daring to try something new, daring to believe in yourself, daring to change your life no matter how old you are. You just say to them:
“Thank you, and up yours!”