Best Way to Learn Guitar: Align your Approach with Your Playing Goals
There is no single way to go about learning guitar. For all the instructors offering lessons, there are virtually as many specific methods for approaching the instrument. Of course, as is true of all areas of music education, there is a traditional approach. But guitar is an especially popular instrument to learn in the context of a specific playing style or musical genre.
This flexibility in approaching the guitar may have to do with the instrument’s roots in the folk music of Spain, or perhaps it is the flexibility of the instrument itself. Many of the most recognized players cut their own path to understanding the guitar, and they took radically different approaches. Whatever the reason, you should know that guitar is an instrument that lets you learn it the way you want.
Read on to get a look at some of the most common approaches, and get started on the very essentials of guitar with a free course covering guitar basics that every player should learn.
There is, of course, a prescribed method for learning to play guitar “the right way,” and without a doubt, it has its advantages. Learning to be a well rounded player with a complete understanding of the guitar takes time, practice, and patience. So for anyone aiming to make a career from playing, it may be in your best interest to go with the proven methods that turn out great players.
This type of learning could mean shelling out around $50 a week for private lessons, but it doesn’t have to. You can take an online course that will cover all the bases of standard guitar and introduce practice methods that you can use to get a firm grasp on everything you’ll need to know to become an outstanding player.
Fun with friends
Another common method that has caught on takes a radically different approach to guitar and holds a fundamentally different philosophy than traditional music education. Popularized by community music centers like The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, this instruction approach holds that anyone can play guitar, and if you focus on just the most important elements, you can learn very quickly. Not only that, but you can start having fun right away, playing popular songs that don’t require advanced skills.
If you are taking on the guitar as a social activity, looking forward to strumming some songs and singing with friends, you might be better aligned with this learning method. And really, it is a perfectly good way to start if you want to progress as an advanced player in many popular styles. You can start with a free course that will teach you to play many of your favorite songs in just 21 days.
As a guitar playing style, jazz departs significantly from what many learn in basic lessons. The guitar is actually a late comer in jazz music. In early, traditional jazz and big band, the instrument simply wasn’t loud enough. Without amplification at that time, the heavy hitting horns blew it away. The banjo could make itself heard and made better sense as a strummed rhythm instrument.
Guitar eventually carved out a place in jazz, but unlike its role in many American roots musics, it did not set the standards. This likely has to do with why chord shapes and scale fingerings are unique in this style of playing.
So if you really want to play jazz or music that carries a lot of jazz influence (funk, soul, R&B, and some alternative), your best bet is likely to start off with a course that handles this kind of playing specifically.
Of course, jazz is not the easiest style to master, and teachers will cover a lot of music theory fundamentals that will help you progress as a player. You will learn to read complicated chord charts, rhythm, tablature, and likely basic musical notation. If you want to top that off with a more standard point of departure for guitar, you can take a course of free lessons to get you started learning standard chords and guitar skills.
Rock and blues
The guitar is the icon of both blues and rock and roll music. And of course, being a great player in one of these styles is a very popular goal for new students of guitar. Like jazz, blues and rock have their own instantly recognizable language on the guitar, but unlike jazz, the style is fairly intuitive for a guitarist to pick up.
Involving chord shapes that you can play the same way anywhere on the neck, a five-note scale that makes improvising easy to learn, and an infectious sound that makes you want to keep playing all day, blues and rock actually create a unique problem for guitarists in the style. In the view of classical guitar education, you learn to run before you can walk.
So if you want to play blues or rock, you will need to decide whether you should get an education in fundamentals first. This can help you develop as a well rounded player. But of course, there is no harm in diving head-first in to rock and/or blues guitar. You can take an introductory course in rock guitar online or get started on a course that will build up your foundation and teach you the elements of blues.
Of course, the list here is not exhaustive, and although it covers some of the styles many beginning students want to learn, there is a lot that it doesn’t touch. It’s important to go in knowing what you want to get out of learning the guitar. That way you can customize your learning experience and get to know the instrument in the best way specifically for you.
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