It’s tempting. How cool would it be if you were able to really rock and claim to be a self-taught guitar player? How nice would it be to save a few bucks a month and learn guitar from a free YouTube video or a DVD? Undeniably, these sound like appealing options – but they’re also unlikely to bring success. The more likely scenario is that you’ll pick up bad habits and spend hours in frustration picking through musical concepts while watching the same video tips over and over.
Taking music lessons is the best way to learn any instrument – and guitar is no exception. Don’t believe us? Here are five good reasons to consider real music lessons versus learning from a video.
You’re Not a Monkey
DVDs or YouTube based lessons are going to give you “monkey see, monkey do” kind of lessons, and with varying degrees of success in even that much. In order to truly learn guitar, you have to learn music theory so you can read, understand and interpret music as a musician. This is a fundamental skill that, while certainly not as exciting as learning your favourite rock tune, will carry you much farther as a guitarist.
Video Lessons Don’t Give You Feedback
Video-based lessons just don’t provide that two-way communication that a live music teacher will provide. This is essential to making sure you are in fact doing it right. You might think you’ve just nailed the opening lick to Stairway to Heaven, but with an untrained musical ear you are not going to be the best judge. A teacher can give you tips that help you specifically, versus generic tips that get you 80% of the way and leave you to figure out the rest of the 20%. Here’s something else: you can’t ask your video a question and actually get an answer.
You’ve Got a Bad Habit
One of the most important rules in learning almost any skill is this: it’s much harder to un-train bad habits than to avoid them in the first place. This is guaranteed to be true of any musical training, especially for adults who lack the same neuroplasticity that make children such great music learners. Even the most detailed DVD simply can’t spot your mistakes and tell you how to fix them. It can assume your mistakes, based on commonly made errors. It can provide you generic tips for correcting these errors, but it’s up to you to know if you’re making them. And you don’t.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive
Consider this: there is no YouTube video in the world that is going to help you achieve your specific music goals. Perhaps you want to be a master jazz guitarist, or you want to start gigging around Toronto. Whatever your passion for guitar, don’t shortchange it by trying to learn from a YouTube video. A good music teacher will find out what your goals are and create a custom plan to get you where you want to go.
You can’t really verify the credentials of the person you’re trying to emulate via video – unless they are famous in some way. There is virtually no way of knowing if your video-based instructor is going to teach you properly. It’s a risk that could find you with a host of bad habits that you have to unlearn down the road. Such setbacks can be devastating, especially when you should be advancing as a guitarist.
It might be tempting to try and take shortcuts, especially if you’re new to guitar. No matter what stage of learning you’re in, it’s important to have a live teacher who can help prevent bad habits, correct your mistakes, and work with you to achieve your goals.