You’ve chosen a beautiful guitar. You have picks, a capo, a tuner, and a guitar teacher. Congratulations! You’ve begun your journey to becoming a great guitar player. But how often should you take lessons?
Mastering the guitar requires blending many skills together, and using your body and mind in unison to create music. You must perfect your muscle memory and fine motor skills, while remembering many chords, chord progressions, and how to find particular notes on your guitar. Playing electric or bass guitar can also mean having to remember and understand the use of settings on the guitar itself, as well as your amp and pedals. To combine all these skills takes practice and perseverance. A great teacher is invaluable, as is a lesson schedule which suits your abilities and goals.
How frequently you meet with your instructor depends heavily on where you want playing guitar to take you. Do you want to be a professional studio musician? Do you want to join a band? Or, do you want to express yourself through a creative and enjoyable hobby? The more you seek to achieve from playing, the more long-term and consistent your instruction will need to be. Which is the best way to learn guitar for you?
As a Beginner Student
See your instructor at least once per week when you are just beginning. Weekly lessons are the best way to learn guitar because frequent check-ins will keep you focused and motivated.
As a beginner, the most important part of your practice is consistency. Playing every day, or even two or three times a day, is the key to success. It’s easy to get discouraged when your fingers are sore and don’t seem to want to do what you tell them to. Luckily, your ability will improve quickly in the early stages of learning.
Start by practicing ten minutes twice a day while your fingers are becoming callused, then move up to thirty minutes a day. Longer, less frequent practices are less effective, so try to avoid fitting a two-hour session in each week. Instead, make time every day.
As an Intermediate Student
By now you might be self motivated enough that you need to be reminded to put your guitar DOWN! As confident as you are in the basics, there is so much left to learn. This is the stage when you can really find yourself in your music. Experimenting with styles of play, different ‘voicings’ of your guitar, and even writing your own songs are all benefits of continuing your lessons. Meeting with your instructor once per week is still the best way to learn guitar for most intermediate students, allowing for consistent skill growth. If you’re finding you need more time to master new material, you can always move to lessons once every two weeks until you feel more confident.
As a Professional
Success! You’ve decided to make your living doing something you love! You’ve learned so much and come so far, but there are so many styles and variations that you could likely go on finding new and different ways to play guitar forever. Taking the time for a lesson every so often can refresh your playing immensely. New skills lead to new and better songwriting, and more impressive performances, so try to meet with an instructor every month or two.
For Your Child
If you are pursuing guitar lessons for your child, keep in mind that lessons can cause a lot of stress. If a child is expected to practice for long periods of time, or do many things during one practice, an instrument can become a source of frustration and anxiety. So many children tragically give up on their lessons due to stress. Far better to learn one song per week until a child becomes more self-motivated, than learn two or three songs a week for a year only for your child to never pick up the instrument again due to stress! Try to find an instructor who can be flexible with your child, and who will keep things fun and interesting in the long-term.
In the end, guitar is like any other skill- it requires effort and determination on your part, along with the experience and guidance of a great teacher. When you’re passionate and motivated, you can achieve your goals. The best way to learn guitar is to keep at it, so get started, and stay true to your vision! The world deserves to hear your unique and wonderful song.
Photo by Dmitry Terekhov