I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you can absolutely learn how to play guitar using one of the many fantastic online or DVD courses available. I’ll let you know my favorites in a bit. The bad news is most people won’t learn anything from these courses. AND IT’S NOT THE FAULT OF THE COURSE! Let me explain…
You see, the failure rate of these online guitar learning courses (and any home study package) is immense. But I can help you avoid the common pitfalls that occur in trying to learn on your own. You CAN be successful in learning guitar at home if you do it the right way.
A bit of careful planning and diligent effort are the keys here. Keep in mind, when I’m talking about home study guitar courses, that’s both the online and DVD types. There are good ones in both formats.
If you’re a beginner, I don’t recommend trying to design your own course through blog posts and YouTube videos. There’s a sequence of steps and concepts that will get you playing guitar quickly. It takes longer if you try to do them out of order. Customized online searching and learning is better suited to advancing guitarists who are trying to master specific techniques.
Here’s some stats on home courses (guitar and otherwise):
80% never get opened. That’s wasted money just sitting there in a box or an online account.
Of the other 20%, only 2% will actually finish the course. The others may get something out of it. But they’re sure not getting their money’s worth. And it’s not the fault of the program. It’s the fault of mental pitfalls. Every company out there really does want you to get everything you can out of their program.
Am I guilty of both of these things? Like a kid caught with his hand in the candy jar. But I learned how to do it a better way.
How can you be sure that you’re part of that 2% of success stories? Easy…
1. Have a definite start date. It’s tempting to tear into your new guitar program as soon as you get it. Go ahead and open it up and look through the materials. But don’t start learning right away. It probably came at a time where you’ve got a zillion other things going on. Your first goal is to have a solid schedule of guitar learning time. Pick a day on your calendar and set a day and TIME to start. Be exact. Then, in the time between, you won’t feel guilty about it sitting unused because you know exactly when you’re starting. Instead you be free to think about all the great stuff you’re going to learn and stay excited about doing it.
2. Have a set schedule for your practice sessions. Consistency is the key to learning anything. It’s why I can play guitar (playing near every day for 25 years) and can’t speak French (3 years in high school, then nothing). Trying to cram hours of learning into one day and then neglecting it for six days will make the whole guitar learning process go slower. Instead, have a plan to work on your guitar course 5 days per week for 20-30 minutes. Depending on the lesson, you may need a little more or less time. But that’s a good baseline to shoot for.
Schedule those practice sessions in your calendar just like if you had appointments with a live teacher. It’s important because you want it to be important. Stick to your schedule. “I’m too tired” is the worse excuse for avoiding anything.
3. You’re not really learning guitar by yourself. A good guitar course doesn’t just offer a bunch of lessons. They’ll also offer social support in the form of a bulletin board or even live chat with qualified instructors. If you have a question, ask and it shall be answered. Having other people help you means getting better at guitar faster. Use all the resources the program has to offer.
4. Be responsible to someone else, but don’t announce your goal to the world. Scientific studies have shown that telling people about your goal stimulates the same parts of your brain as when you’ve already accomplished the goal.
However, one of the biggest pluses of having a live guitar teacher is that you have to be responsible for learning the material each week. Otherwise we look at you with disappointment in our eyes and wish we were somewhere else. Unfortunately, you don’t get that responsibilty aspect when you’re learning on your own. So pick just one person that you’re going to check in with each week. Even better if they’re doing the course or learning guitar too. Here’s where your program’s bulletin board comes in handy again. Make a friend on there and ask them if you can report to them each week on your progress.
The guitar is a fickle mistress. Learning to play it is exhilarating, frustrating, wonderful, and aggravating. You will be faced with constant challenges (if you’re doing it right). And if you follow these four simple steps I’ve given you, you’ll be able to do the work and become the amazing guitarist you picture in your head.
Now, which programs do I recommend? For a DVD course, you can’t beat Learn and Master Guitar from Gibson. An extremely well rounded guitar course with tons of personal help that will help you move towards any style you’re interested in. Acoustic Guitar Magazine voted it “Best Instructional Material”. It includes 40 hours of instruction on 20 DVDs, plus 5 jam-along CDs, and a unlimited online help. A huge amount of guitar material presented in a professional and simple to follow manner.
For online only courses, my best recommendation is Jamorama. Again, very well rounded, loads of bonus materials, tons of personalized help online. Over 200,000 people have used this guitar learning system. You can download the lessons to your computer so you don’t have to worry about a net connection. Lots of video demonstrations, and jam tracks. They’ll even give you some free lessons up front before you commit to anything.
I’m sure you’ve heard of both of these courses, but that’s because they’re good. Apply the four steps to either of these programs and you have a recipe for guitar success!
Get my guide to the “12 Parts of Playing Guitar You Need To Know” plus “The Perfect Practice Session” by sending out a quick tweet with the Tweet2Download button below.