Sometimes, students ask me, “How long will I need to take guitar lessons until I’m good at the guitar?”
I have to say that honestly, there’s no definitive answer to that question. Different people progress at different rates, and different people struggle with different things. Some are great at forming crisp and clean sounding chords almost immediately, but have trouble getting the hang of strumming. Others seem to have a great natural sense of rhythm, but find scales to be quite a challenge. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.
The single most important variable that determines how quickly my guitar students progress is PRACTICE.
Practice Your Guitar Consistently
Those who make time for practicing regularly in between guitar lessons progress at a much faster rate than those who have trouble penciling in time with their instruments. It really doesn’t take that much time, especially at first.
Beginning students should practice for at least 15 minutes per day. It’s OK to take one day per week off, if you must, but it’s far better to make practicing a part of your daily routine than to try to cram a whole week’s practice time into one day. And really, how many of us don’t have at least 15 minutes to spare on any given day?
At 15 minutes per day, you’ll get 1 hour and 45 minutes of practice per week. Of course, as you progress, you’ll want to practice more, and not just because you know you should. Once you’re able to start playing things that sound cool and feel good to play, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment, and you’ll start to feel the music in your bones. You’ll be hooked on the guitar, and you’ll start to miss it when you’re in school or at work.
Always Challenge Yourself as a Guitarist
At that point, practice should start to come naturally to you, but remember to take time to practice the songs and exercises that are challenging for you. When you first started playing, everything was challenging, and you got better because you powered through it. Now that certain aspects of playing guitar have become second nature, you should definitely take time to enjoy them, but you must continue to push yourself to improve. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck in a rut, and that’s no fun at all.
Double the Practice, Double the Progress
As long as you’re practicing effectively, there should be a directly proportionate relationship between how much you practice and how quickly you progress. Double your practice time between guitar lessons, and you should double your rate of progress.
Also, remember that there will be times when you feel like you’re improving at a rapid pace, and there will be other times when you feel like progress is slow. In either case, the correct course of action is to keep at it. You’ll thank yourself later.
Remember Where You Came From
If you ever doubt your progress on the guitar, just flip your guitar around backwards and try to play it. Trying to play lefty if you’re right-handed or trying to play right-handed as a southpaw is a great way to remember how it felt when you first picked up the guitar, and to see how far you’ve really come. Now flip it back around, give yourself a pat on the back, and get back to strummin’ and pickin’.
There’s Always Something New to Learn
I’d encourage you to think of your journey as a guitarist as just that: a journey. As the great composer Sergei Rachmaninoff said, “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”
Indeed, you could spend your entire life learning about music, and still not know all there is to know. But knowing everything isn’t the goal, is it? No. The goal is to always be learning. I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I don’t know everything about playing guitar. There are plenty of things that I’ve still yet to master. But that’s what makes playing a musical instrument so much fun. There’s always some new challenge or discovery waiting just around the corner.
I’m Your Guitar Teacher, But so Are You
So there you have it: guitar lessons are great for your progress as a musician. They give you accountability, motivation, encouragement, and direction, but the real improvement happens between lessons.
Remember: I’m your guitar teacher, but so are you, and your instruction is just as important as mine, if not more so. Only you can make yourself a better player.
I can direct your progress and give you assignments that will help you gain skill and confidence, but if spending time in my presence had the mystical capacity to simply make you a better guitar player, I wouldn’t be a guitar teacher. I’d be a wizard, and I’d have to raise my rates accordingly. 🙂
Guitar Lessons in Portland, Oregon
On a side note, If you’re interested in taking guitar lessons in Portland, Oregon, I’d love to hear from you. Click Here to Get in Touch With Me and I’ll set up a free intro consultation for you or your kiddo.
Talk to you soon!