Always wanted to learn to play guitar? Sometimes the first step is the hardest one – just simply getting started! Here, Philip R. shares the top myths and realities when it comes to playing…
“Not me,” “I can’t,” “but you don’t understand.” How many times have these phrases held us back? How many plans were scrapped by us over the years, as negativity held its death grip around our throats? Answer: too many. As you learn to play guitar for the first time, most students are susceptible to such doubtful thinking. We marvel at musicians as doing something magical. But it is imperative that you remember they ALL started somewhere.
That being said, there are several nagging myths the newcomer to guitar struggles with before even holding the instrument. I am here to debunk some of the most common myths I usually hear as students learn to play guitar. I believe overcoming these persistent myths is the first step to learning the guitar.
So, without further adieu, here they are:
Myth #1: “My hands and fingers are too small.”
Simply NOT true. I personally have small hands and fingers and it hasn’t held me back or been a detriment to my playing guitar. In full disclosure, it does help to have long fingers but mostly for very technical tricks you will learn much later on in your development. Please remember, it is not VITAL to playing the guitar and you can play thousands of songs with short fingers and hands. Don’t let this common myth hold you back from as you learn to play guitar. My fingers aren’t much bigger than my nine-year-old nephew’s fingers.
Myth #2: “I am tone deaf.”
This one can be overcome easily, if you find the right guitar teacher who knows how to train your ears to hear and distinguish tones and more importantly changes in tones. This is a skill that can be learned, like riding a bike or tying your shoelaces. It is best achieved through tuning exercises, practiced again and again, as well as comprehensive ear-training drills. It is necessary of course to be able to tune your guitar. I have personally helped my students overcome, in nearly every case, their perception of being tone deaf in a few short months. These students even went on to listening to a song and recognizing the chords and notes BY EAR, without the aid of tabs, sight reading or YouTube videos.
Myth #3: “I don’t have the time to practice.”
Well, I have to admit it; in our busy world this is a big one. However, I have always recommended to my students, at all levels, that they put aside only 20 minutes to a half-hour of time. Two to three times a week of slow, deliberate practice is all you need to grasp the concepts and techniques required for playing the guitar. Now granted, practice is repetitious. There is really no way around this. Guitar is learned through repetition but the rewards are so great. Imagine being able to put a CD into your stereo, listening to a song for 15-20 minutes, writing down the chords you hear as you go along, and then PLAYING that song you love. It can happen. I’ve seen it with my own students, mostly within the first five months, if they met me halfway and practiced regularly. It is always a two-way street.
Myth #4: “Guitars are really expensive.”
These days a new, decent quality guitar can be had for $99. I don’t recommend spending a ton of money up front until you see if you like playing the guitar first. Of course, you get what you pay for, but remember you can learn on cheaper guitars just as well as on expensive ones. My first guitar was $40 and was purchased out of a catalog. I had it for years and that was the guitar I learned on. Besides, you can always get a better guitar as you progress on the instrument. Just be patient. You have to start somewhere, but you can do it.
Well, there you have it. Four guitar myths debunked and up in flames. Please don’t let these or any guitar myths hold you back from taking guitar lessons. You can do it! Make the most of your life and have fun. You deserve to play your favorite songs on guitar. It will be a skill that lasts a lifetime.
Philip R. teaches online guitar lessons. In beginner lessons, students will learn how to tune a guitar, change strings, strum, scales, finger exercises and 28 chords used in today’s most popular music. Book lessons with Philip here!
Photo by Simon White