Taking up a musical instrument is a lifelong dream for most people. However, commencing this journey can be a stressful task, based on not knowing enough about where to start. These five simple tips should set you on the path to mastering this most rewarding pastime.
- Find a great teacher
The internet and music shops are full of information about how to start learning the guitar. Although books and online tutorials are useful and have their place, they cannot substitute for the sort of immediate feedback one gets from a teacher. No book is going to hold your hand in the right position or encourage you when finding things difficult. A great teacher should ideally have the following qualities.
– They should listen carefully to what you have to say and respond in kind.
– They should have a well developed knowledge of music in general, as well as the guitar.
- They should make you feel safe and valued while learning.
At Brighton and Hove Tutors, we have many such teachers, in all disciplines.
2. Get a decent guitar
Many people start learning the guitar after being given a starter instrument, only to find it is not suitable for purpose. Key signs to look for is a cheap, plasticky build, strings way off the fretboard and creaking. A good guitar is solid and easy to hold, even for a beginner. There are three main types of guitar, electric, acoustic and classical. Here are some links to appropriate models in all three styles suitable to a beginner. Some come with starter packs, including amps and picks, which are generally good value. Yamaha is an excellent make for beginners, producing quality guitars at a low price.
3. Set some goals and expectations
Learning the guitar should be fun, but can often come with weighty expectations. So, you’ve bought something expensive, no you need to do something with it. Relax. Learning the guitar should be fun, but takes time and focus, even more so than a lot of effort, to really master. Think about what you would like to do with your guitar. Perhaps learn to strum acoustic songs, join a band or start reading music. All of these are possible, but perhaps not all at once. A good teacher will help you set some meaningful goals and manage your expectations along the way.
4. Play with other people
When I started learning guitar, I learnt by playing around fires at summer camps. This required a lot of song memorisation, as well as keeping up with the other guitarists around me. I have found that one learns the guitar best with other people and in some sort of social situation. Playing in a band is a great way to start, but it can be as simple as having some friends over or accompanying a singer. Try and make it fun and you will learn much better.
5. Listen to lots of music
Music is the reason you probably wanted to learn the guitar in the first place, so make sure you don’t stop. As guitarists, the most valuable tool we have is our ears, which are tuned by listening to songs. Once you are up and running, try and work out some of the chords of a song on the radio or youtube. Be proactive with your listening, seeking out new artists, perhaps at the recommendation of your teacher. Above all, remember why you started the guitar, to make great music.