Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument or do something so bad you could feel it?
Think back to when you first had the desire to play a guitar or piano or another instrument.
I remember when I was four. We had a piano in our living room and I just couldn’t keep my hands off it. Every chance I’d get I’d be plunking out a nursery rhyme or another song I had heard.
My mother was adamant that I was going to be classically trained. So the journey began.
The Guitar Enthusiast
Now, Larry, on the other hand, wanted to be a Jazz Guitarist. Every chance he’d get he’d go into a music store and headed for the guitar rack.
Taking a guitar off the rack, he’d feel the weight of it in his arms. It was heavier than he had imagined.
Cupping his left hand around the neck with his thumb and fingers of his small hands almost touching on either side, he’d slide his hand up and down the neck to make that scratchy sound.
He ran his hand down the body of the guitar feeling its smooth, cool surface and contour.
Strumming a couple of times with his right hand changing positions with his left, he made the sweetest music he had ever heard.
The others in the store weren’t as impressed. But it was music, his first attempts at music. He just couldn’t wait any longer. He had to have a guitar.
His parents reinforced that it was only six more months until his tenth birthday.
Six months seemed like an eternity.
His daily trek home from school took a new path by the music store. Often, he’d just sit on the stool and gaze at the guitars. Other times the clerk would tell him he could take one off the rack if there weren’t many customers in the store.
The Golden Years
Larry and I were young, but many have just retired, needing something to do during their golden years. Perhaps, learning how to play a musical instrument will rekindle the longing from youth.
Is this you? Can you fit into one of these categories of wanting to play an instrument? Perhaps your dream is to play or play and sing in a band. Or perhaps you are of the classical persuasion and want to play in the orchestra you listen to at every opportunity.
No matter your age or circumstance, a new adventure is about to be, like moving to a new city with places to explore and new experiences to enjoy.
Your new adventure as a guitarist or pianist is about to begin.
My First Guitar (Larry S. Warfield’s Story)
Larry wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, mainly a guitar, so bad he could hardly wait.
The six months passed slowly except for the encouragement given by the clerk who would show me how to play a few chords when the store wasn’t busy.
The day finally arrives, my tenth birthday. I was afraid I had begged too much for a guitar. Fear and anxiety welled up inside as I was called into the living room.
There on the coffee table was a guitar case. It wasn’t an expensive guitar, but I didn’t care. A cheap guitar from JC Penney’s felt like the most expensive guitar. It was mine, my very own guitar.
Asking for lessons was out of the question, but I didn’t care. I spent hours digging through music books doing everything mentioned. Even when my fingers hurt from the higher strings on the cheap guitar I didn’t quit. It just didn’t matter.
I checked out music books from the library until I had saved enough money to buy a book by Micky Baker on how to play jazz. For weeks I pored over the book day and night until I could play the chords and songs in the book.
Stopping was not an option.
As one of six kids, my parents could not afford to give me guitar lessons. My only option was to teach myself. It worked. I’ve now played for years. But, that’s the hard way.
Today there are many other options.
Getting Started With Guitar Lessons
Where do you want to go with music? Do you have a particular goal, perhaps to be a professional musician touring, playing gigs and concerts for fans? Would you prefer to work as a studio musician in Nashville, Los Angeles, or someplace else? It’s very difficult to realize your dreams if they aren’t firmly planted in your mind and heart.
Take the time to write out your goals. If you aren’t sure how to structure your goals and plans to reach your goals check the internet. You will find several websites with templates and instructions on how to fill them out.
Back to music…
Assess Your Progress
Do you have a face-to-face personal teacher or are you trying to teach yourself? If so, is your teacher the right person to help you achieve your goals? Again, you won’t know if your teacher is the right person for the job if you don’t know where you are going.
If you are trying to teach yourself, is it working, or is your progress very slow and draining your motivation? If so, you have several options.
Find a face-to-face teacher. If that isn’t an option for some reason check out the online video lessons. There are several websites that offer video lessons from total beginners to very advanced.
Don’t keep trudging along losing your motivation and desire.
Wait a second. If you’ve only been teaching yourself for a month or two and you haven’t gotten a music contract yet, you may be jumping the gun.
It takes time and a lot of hard work to be good enough to get a music contract or a job in a top studio.
Give yourself time. Be patient and work hard.
Still, your progress could probably be faster if you had a professional teacher. Check it out. Don’t be afraid to make a change.
Do something different.
If you have been trying to teach yourself for some time, you have developed habits that aren’t beneficial to where you want to go. How do I know?
You wouldn’t be losing motivation if what you are doing was working.
To change a habit you have to start by doing something different.
Give yourself permission to do something different. Some people think, “Oh, I start this I have to finish it.” No you don’t. Do something different.
Switch off the autopilot. Often we get into ruts that aren’t productive or don’t move us along toward our goals and we don’t even realize it. We’re just moving on autopilot.
Be more aware of what you are thinking and feeling. Assess the situation to answer the question, “Is this really working for me?” Be more in the moment.
Change things up by adding purpose into your playing. Perhaps you need to add more variety by playing different types of music. You may have thought you wanted to be a Country Guitarist, but if you give yourself a chance you might choose Jazz or Blues or even Classical.
Personally, after 12+ years of playing Classical Piano, I was bored and started playing more pop/rock ‘n roll music. It was refreshing and a lot more fun. I had learned the basics of Classical Piano which gave me a firm foundation for other types of music. I find it’s also very helpful in helping Larry publish the music he writes.
But most of all have the courage and self-confidence to do something different. Don’t get stuck in a rut.
Online Guitar Lessons
There are several companies and websites that have excellent online video lessons. Many of the companies offer the beginning lessons for FREE.
This gives you the opportunity to check out their teaching style to see if it is a good fit for the way you learn.
Some companies cater to beginners while others are lean more toward intermediate and advanced students.
Check out the companies:
- What style of music do they teach?
- What are their video lessons like? Do they show multiple views of the guitar?
- Will you receive chord charts with the lessons?
- Are the lessons downloadable?
- What is the cost?
- In the beginning lessons do they require a credit card upfront on the free lessons?
- What are their ratings by other students?
- Do they teach music theory and reading music from the beginning or does that come later?
- Do they offer a practice routine or are you left on your own again?
- Who are the instructors?
- How many lessons do they have available?
Is It a Good Fit?
Many students are concerned about having to plunge into studying music theory in the first lessons. If so, find a company that focuses on guitar technique with theory coming in the advanced lessons.
In the beginning lessons, you need to be focusing on learning the first chords, different strumming techniques, how to change chords easily and smoothly. They also need to teach you how to apply the chords and strumming in playing a handful of songs.
One of the important techniques in teaching music is to have practice tapes to practice with. Some call them Jam Tracks.
The good Jam Tracks give you the experience of playing along with a professional guitarist and often with a full band. This helps increase your knowledge base and your confidence while being fun.
In the online video, lessons are guided by a professional instructor that will lead you through the lessons, especially the beginning lessons. This is where the beginning free lessons are important. You get to experience the lessons, the video presentation, and the instructor to see if they are a match for you.
Just Get Started Learning How To Play A Musical Instrument
Take the first step. You weren’t born walking and talking. You had to learn one step or one word at a time. Don’t just sit there on the floor sucking your thumb. You are NOT a baby. Get up and make it happen for yourself.
No one can do it for you.
P.S. You will LOVE Jammin’!!!