When I look at some of the popular guitar lesson websites it seems that one of the following things would be the most important feature when learning how to play guitar:
- Quantity of lessons (more is better)
- Video quality of lessons (higher quality is better)
- Multi camera angles (more is better)
- The amount of teachers you have access to (more is better)
- Access to a large chord/scale/arpeggio library (bigger is better)
- Price (less is better)
Now each of these CAN be important but lets face it, these are selling points and are hardly about learning. But we do need something to sell, and features make that a lot easier. We see it with phones, cameras, cars, and of course, also in e-learning. Heck, when I’m releasing my new courses in august I’m sure I’ll be listing some of the features above as well….But you can bank on me implementing the two aspects I’m about to mention! But still. Honestly. For a beginner or an intermediate student, these features listed above are not the most important when learning to play guitar.
So what are the two most important aspects then? According to me anyway…
Many years ago I would give a student the assignment to learn a certain song. We would go through the intro together during the guitar lesson and the rest of the week the student was practising and came back for his lesson. So I asked: “How did it go? Did you encounter any challenges? How far did you get?” Where the student would reply: “I finished it! I’m ready for the next song!”
“Awesome! Let me hear it!” The student would then play something that sounded like the song but there was so much going on that needed fixing.
So now I’ll tell you why your teacher (if you’ve had one) regularly sent you home with some pointers to repeat last weeks assignment: He was pacing you because at home you don’t have the self reflection to spot the mistakes.
And there you have it.
- Pacing yourself
- Self reflection
It has never been about the amount of lessons or information you have access to but rather how well you learn the lessons and how well you retain the information. Pacing yourself means not getting ahead of yourself. It means mastering one thing before moving on to the next.
“It is not about how many lessons you take, but how well you learn them!”
When students learn a song it becomes most evident. Of course they want to learn the entire thing. And that’s their goal, to learn the entire song. Preferably as fast as possible. Though the enthusiasm and energy that generates is awesome, at the same time that is their biggest mistake. The goal should be to play it as good as possible. That’s why when I learn a song, I focus on the first 2 or 4 bars and getting them perfect before moving on. I could move on sooner but the more information you throw on top of already new information, the harder it will be to retain all of it.
So how can we tell when we actually master a certain part. Self reflection. A good way is to record yourself, play it back. You’ll pick up on things you wouldn’t otherwise. To me this aspect in learning still makes a private teacher, someone who is in the same room with you, invaluable. Sure the internet is making progress and more courses and sites are joining that vast web-space. But when it comes to those two pilars: pacing and self reflection, a real teacher is worth the $50/hr (more or less) you pay for it.