In my first article (Part 1) of this series I was discussing this most common phrase that I've heard over and over in my many years as a guitar teacher: I've always wanted to play the guitar but...". We talked about the three big things that keep people from getting around to not just playing but having guitar in their lives: Time, Money and Energy. We discussed the issue of time and how to think about and handle it in article 1; In this article we tackle Money.
It is a well accepted truth that when you have plenty of money, you don't have much if any, free time. Conversely, if you don't have a great deal of money you have more time. So how much money should you spend on your guitar pursuits? Should you just learn online? Should you get a teacher? How much should you spend on an instrument and attendant gear? Well, it all starts with a great teacher. Learning online is great if you just want to supplement your learning. It cannot get you to be a real player. You need guidance so your learning will add up and not just be random stuff.
When you are looking for a guitar teacher you want someone who can give you exactly what you want in a lesson, and be affordable. So here are the steps to get you from starting to look, to finding a great teacher.
The first thing is to consider: What do you want out of lessons? Answer some basic questions such as:
How long do I want to take lessons? Months? Years?
How much structure do I want? Is it stress relief or more serious goals?
What are 3 things I want to do well on guitar in the next 3 months?
Next call teachers and talk to them. The "talk" can tell you almost everything you need to know. When I look for people to help me with stuff I need like fixing my computer, or helping me with web issues, the ones that say things that make immediate sense are usually the best. Its not about the teacher promising results or super impressive credentials. Immediate sense is about putting together a good plan. Don't even worry about the price at that point.
Then consider what you have and know. If you are a complete beginner and do not even own a guitar, do not purchase one. Go to a few lessons first. It does not matter that you cannot do homework. Buying a guitar requires knowledge and you should take time learning how to purchase a quality instrument. Wait until you have found the right teacher and they will assist you. If you already have a guitar, does it serve your goals? Is it the type that will allow you to play the 3 things you want to do well in the next 3 months? For example, if you want to learn rock but you have a barely playable acoustic, you need to get an electric. Do not think that you can learn "the basics" of rock playing on an acoustic--that's just pleasure delaying. Do you want to play country but you only have a classical? Don't think you'll be pickin' and grinnin' anytime soon. There are many great deals out there if you know how to shop and where to look. Believe me when I tell you, a good guitar for your needs that will also fit your budget is out there.
Finally, after you have the teacher and the instrument, then think about the money. Think in terms of the value of money to lesson time. Many students evaluate lesson prices simply by price per hour. Most teachers discount packages by the larger amount of time you book. Generally with pleasurable pursuits, more time equates to more value. However, in the case of guitar lessons, this is a dubious idea. Most times, more time is not more value. Sometimes with more time, students get more knowledge that they aren't ready for. This has the effect of either confusing them, or overloading them. When the human brain is confused or overloaded it "dumps" or forgets the extra input. Sometimes it is better to take less time, pay a little more per hour, and master the right stuff. The key is to be learning just the knowledge you need to get you toward your personal goals. A good benchmark to see if this is happening is that --it's happening. The first few lessons should give you glimpses and flashes of those larger goals you are pursuing.
Once you are inspired and feeling those flashes of inspiration, be sure to set aside 6 months of continuous sessions to insure success--whatever your budget. It's better to take 6 lessons once per month than 6 weeks of continuous lessons followed by 6 weeks off. When you do take time off, let the teacher know well in advance, and commit to a restart date if possible. This will continue the positive vibe between teacher and student and help you gain confidence in your ability to commit.
And always remember everything of value you own, you carry with you on your own two feet.