Starting with guitar: how long before I can play guitar?
Is taking guitar lessons really necessary? This is a question I hear almost daily from beginning guitarists or bassists.
It all seems so simple, you find a guitar in the attic, learn some guitar chords in a few minutes, you are looking for a drummer, bassist and singer, you are discovered in your garage during the third rehearsal, and 2 weeks later you are on the main stage of Rock Werchter with a major record contract! OK this looks more like a comedy TV movie (who remembers Spinal Tap?), but a lot of people ironically have this image about playing music. Just like : “If you know 2 chords you can play everything, right?”. Playing music isn’t hard, is it? Unfortunately, the reality is slightly different. Why is learning to play guitar and music quickly impossible?
Through many channels I hear and read people who claim to be able to play guitar in 2 weeks via self-study. And on the Internet you often see advertisements of quacks trying to sell guitar courses: “Learn to play guitar in 10 days”. It just doesn’t mention that they have a lot of pain in their fingers, that they can’t keep the beat, don’t know or can’t get the right rhythm, and that they try to play everything indiscriminately without having an idea what they’re actually doing, have no dynamics or feeling at all, play cramped, etc.
I advise beginners who start with guitar to play guitar for at least 5 to 15 minutes a day, longer is of course also allowed! Keep repeating a lot of lessons at the beginning, until you are sure that you have mastered them. Don’t think at first “I’ll try it on myself and via the internet first, and then I’ll take lessons”. There are always a few who succeed, but the vast majority of these do-it-yourselfers who still want to take guitar lessons afterwards because they are stuck is a nightmare for music teachers. That way you miss essentials, you miss the basics … You start running a marathon when you haven’t even learned to crawl. And such students often become demotivated and frustrated when they are suddenly told with all their abilities that they have to do basic exercises from a beginner.
The right start is very important: well-dosed and structured information, the right exercises and applying the right dose of music theory in a fun and playful way! And moreover, musical experience is a kind of life wisdom that you can never rush, it comes with age, it comes through practice, playing music, listening, playing together, studying, studying, analyzing, … . For example: purely technically, you can play like BB King after 4 to 5 years of practicing on your guitar, but playing and sounding with the feeling and dynamics of BB King, for that you have to have played at least 75 years of music!