As an intermediate level guitarist considering lessons your primary concern is most likely one or more of the following:
- “I have done OK on my own. I am not sure I need a teacher. This may be a waste of my time and money.”
- “I am not sure there is any real benefit to having a teacher when I can find free lessons on the Internet.”
- “I really enjoy playing guitar but I do not believe that I have the talent to get any better than I am now.”
- “I am certain a teacher is going to press me to learn music theory. I do not want to learn theory .”
- “I have tried lessons before and I was not satisfied with the results.”
“I have done OK on my own. I am not sure I need a teacher. This may be a waste of my time and money.”
The fact that you are here reading this page suggests that you are not satisfied with your playing. Maybe you struggle with the common feeling that someting is missing when you try to solo, as if you are not really getting said what you are trying to say? If you are a typical bedroom warrior who knows a bunch of bits and pieces but can’t play through entire songs well, the main things you need are a structured, goal oriented practice routine that will make the most of your time, and the built-in social and accountability aspects that come with live lessons. Odds are high that I could tell with just a few minutes of asking you some questions and observing you play what is holding you back.
The difficulty for an intermediate player is that you know a lot but are not fully aware of what you do not yet know, much less where to look for it. In working with an experienced and skilled teacher you will overcome several common limitations that plague intermediate players …
– knowledge gaps that leave you wondering what to do next
– ineffective practice routine
– improper and limiting physical technique habits
– misunderstanding of gear that prevents you from nailing down your preferred tone
– unrealistic expectations about your progress that lead to frustration & procrastination
– discouraging uncertainty as to whether you can really get any better
– resignation to a level of skill that is less than what you want and are capable of
Some of these crippling barriers are in your hands, and some are in your mind. I have proven solutions for all of them, and others. My general program incorporates the accumulated knowledge of several generations of guitarists and guitar teachers. If you follow my recommendations then you will see significant improvement in your skills.
“I am not sure there is any advantage to working with a teacher when I can find free lessons on the Internet.”
There are MANY benefits to enlisting the aid of a great teacher. I will cover a handful here.
-Help in identifying your specific goals and the steps you need to take to reach those goals. The Internet can do no more than post information. It can not give you specific guidance for you and your situation.
-Feedback on your physical technique. This is one critical area where no book or video can ever help you. Without personalized guidance on physical technique it is certain that you will develop one or more of the common bad habits that will limit your peak performance to far less than your inherent potential.
-Direction toward the specific things you need to know and do to reach your playing goals, as opposed to spinning your wheels with useless exercises and “tricks”. There is some great information on the Internet. However, much if it will not be applicable to your goals and thus will be a waste of your limited time. Contrarily, much of it is for people who already have a significant skill and knowledge base. Some of it is just plain wrong, or incomplete at best. Some of these guitar “tricks & secrets” web sites amount to little more than a con. I will steer you clear of these traps.
-Accountability. Whatever your goals, you are going to need to practice. Without the built in accountability that comes with regular personal lessons, odds are high that you will not demand as much of yourself as you will when you know you have to demonstrate your progress to your teacher routinely. Without a teacher you are also much more likely to gravitate toward spending your limited practice time attempting to play songs and advanced techniques while neglecting development of the basic knowledge and technique necessary to play those songs and techniques well.
“I really enjoy playing guitar but I do not believe that I have the talent to get any better than I am now.”
For the overwhelming majority of accomplished musicians, natural talent was not the primary ingredient in developing enjoyable mastery of their instruments. Sure, you can find exceptions, but they are notable precisely because they are exceptions. For most of us it boils down to one thing: persistent effort. With the aid of a great teacher to steer you toward the right information and methods, it is possible to greatly reduce the amount of time and effort involved in reaching your playing goals. I can also tell you from personal experience that it makes a big difference when you have the interest and encouragement of another person who cares about your success. With a great teacher in your corner it is not a matter of talent but rather of persistence in knowing and doing the right things in the right order.
“I am certain a teacher is going to press me to learn music theory. I do not want to learn theory .”
Yes, I do incorporate music theory into my program. I have found that many intermediate level guitarists hold to some incorrect ideas about what music theory is. Do you know the names of the chords you play? The scales you choose to apply over those chords? Then you already know music theory, and as you have seen it is very useful information.
Music theory is not “rules” in the sense of “telling you what to play”. It is more along the lines of the “law” of gravity. Gravity is not a “law” that was decreed by a legislature. It is something that scientists observed in nature and found to be true over and over again, such that eventually we came to think of it as a “law”. Music theory is the same kind of “law” … observations about relationships between pitches and the emotional effects these relationships produce in human beings.
If you want to realize your maximum potential as a musician, you will need to add some more information to your current inventory of music theory. You do not need to know the entire encyclopedia of theory to play Blues and Classic Rock, but you do you need to understand the common chords, scales, modes, arpeggios, and the relationhips between these elements. This will give you power to make intelligent and creative choices in your playing, as well as insight to decipher the songs you love so that you can reproduce them. It does not have to be an overwhelming chore. When incorporated wisely into an overall program of progress, music theory is extremely interesting AND beneficial to your progress.
“I have tried lessons before and I was not satisfied with the results.”
There are any number of reasons why this may be so. Some common ones are:
(1) You did not genuinely follow the teachers instructions, or did not really apply yourself
(2) You did not give the lessons enough time to make a big difference
(3) Your teacher was not effective
(4) Your teacher was generally effective but not the right teacher for you and/or your goals
With any lesson program, whether live or via book/video, you will need to apply yourself to practicing the material as indicated by the teacher. If the teacher did not give you good guidance as to what to practice and how to practice, this is the teacher’s fault. If the teacher did equip you well for good practice and you just didn’t follow the instructions or did the minimum you could get away with, then it is up to you to amend this in the future.
Many guitar players, even up to the intermediate level, hold some idea that they can uncover some magical trick, technique, or idea and all of a sudden they will be playing like their guitar hero. This is a myth. There are no magic tricks. Rather, fluency is the result of an incremental assembly of information and physical techniques over time. It need not take twenty years, but it is certainly going to take more than a few months.
There is a simple logical process for eliminating teachers who do not suit you and identifying the ones who do, as follows:
Do not make a decision based exclusively on price and location. The teacher’s location has nothing whatsoever to do with teaching effectiveness. An effective teacher is well worth driving for another ten or twenty minutes. As for the cheapest teacher … you are going to get what you pay for.
Music lessons is not like buying a pizza, where you hand over your cash and get a complete product in return on the spot. Among other things, music training is a long term personal relationship. So when you are looking for guitar lessons, consider that you are looking for the right person in addition to the right credentials. If at all possible, interview your prospective teacher. Look for the following things:
- a teacher who you like, and who likes you
- passion for and commitment to teaching
- specific training in teaching
- focused on your goals
- an organized, structured program
- fluent in the style you wish to play
I offer an introductory lesson for anyone who wishes to find out more about myself and my program. It takes about an hour. There is no cost or obligation for this lesson, and it has nothing to do with trying to get you into the studio to attempt some kind of pressurized sales presentation. It is simply an opportunity for you to tell me about your musical experience, your guitar goals, and let me tell you more about how I can help you. I will also provide a brief overview of any present barriers I discern in your playing. Click on the link to schedule an appointment for your free lesson.
"As a parent, I couldn’t be happier with the progress that Abby’s made with Chad. He isn’t too easy, has high expectations and continues to push in a positive away. I feel like guitar has given Abby an identity and boosted her self confidence. Coincidence or not, her grades have improved greatly since she started playing. I definitely feel like guitar is a gift that will last her a lifetime." - John Poore, Simpsonville
"I've learned a lot and been both challenged and encouraged. I feel that the lessons are well organized and appropriate to my skill level. The instructor is not just a good guitar player, but also a great teacher." - Mike Menza, Greenville
"Our teenage son has been taking lessons with Chad for nearly six months. We have been very pleased with Chad's approach. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep a 13 year old focused, but Chad has developed a very good rapport with him. I can honestly say that our son looks forward to his weekly lessons."
- Scott Baier, Easley