Guitar 101: What to Expect from Your First Guitar Lesson
Learning a new skill can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Music is an especially great example; whether you’re thinking of taking singing lessons or learning a new instrument (the guitar is a popular choice for many beginners), music can be an excellent hobby. However, as the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day;” you have to start somewhere when learning to play the guitar. When you come in for your first guitar lesson, there are a few things to keep in mind.
What To Bring
Naturally, you’ll need to bring a guitar. Ideally, you would want to have your own guitar; it’s a good chance to get a feel for your instrument. Some other things you may want to bring along include:
- Picks – Picks help to bring out the sound of your guitar and keep from hurting your fingers. Remember to bring extras; picks are small and easily lost
- Metronome – Bring a metronome to help you figure out beats. It’s a convenient tool to help you understand the rhythm of different songs and work out a strum pattern for yourself or download a metronome app.
- Tuner – Once you’ve gotten some experience, you’ll be able to tune your guitar by ear. Until then, bring a tuner with you to help keep it tuned and ensure you get the right sound or download a tuner app.
Above all, remember to bring a positive attitude!
Starting with the Basics
Like any other lesson, you start with the basics. Your teacher won’t begin with teaching songs; instead, you’ll start with an intro to the guitar and all its parts, including the neck, headstock, and bridge. This is also where you’ll learn about the letter names for each of the six strings. Each string produces a different sound; along with the letters, you’ll also learn how each one should sound to create the music correctly. If you have an older guitar, your teacher may replace old, worn strings with new ones and show you how it’s done. This part of the lesson also goes hand in hand with learning how to tune your guitar.
How to Play
If your first lesson goes on long enough, you might be able to get started learning the most basic chords. To begin, it helps to know how to hold the guitar properly. There are different methods for holding the guitar, but the most common position is to place it on your right leg (if you’re right-handed) and pull the guitar close to your body. Many beginners tend to let the guitar slide down to make it easier to see the chords. Instead, pull the guitar close to your body and sit up straight.
When it comes to playing, remember the three numbering systems to help you learn where to place your fingers. To start, be aware of the different frets. The frets are the metal strips that go along the guitar’s neck. Remember that the one farthest to your left (if you’re right-handed) is the first fret. The second fret is the next one to the right, and so on. Knowing the right frets is key to learning your chords and scales as you progress.
There’s also a numbering system for the fingers on your fretting hand. Keep in mind that the index finger is the first finger, the middle the second finger, and so on. It’s a simple thing to remember, but another important lesson for learning where to put your fingers to make chords.
Finally, the last numbering system to remember is for the strings. The thinnest string is the first string and the thickest the sixth.
Set Your Goals
Before you attend your first lesson, it’s wise to think about what you want out of the experience. Take a few minutes to consider what you hope to gain. Do you want to play for fun? Do you want to be able to play along with a group? What kind of music do you want to play? These questions give your teachers a better idea of what you want, and how to guide you toward your goals. As a beginner, you might want to try out everything, but it’s good to be realistic too. Having a clear objective and a clear timeframe help define your studies and make it easier for you to pick up the right skills. There are no right or wrong answers when you consider these questions; whatever solutions that you find should be ones that feel right to you.
Work Out Your Scheduling
Figuring out how much time you have to commit to your studies is a major factor for how quickly you can learn. Committing to a regular schedule can help you make the most of your investment in learning to play the guitar. Aim for at least a weekly schedule to help you progress through your studies (twice a week can give you better results, if you can manage it).
Set up a workout plan with your teacher on the first day. Nothing is stopping you from learning on your own outside the classroom. Spending some time practicing your skills can be a golden opportunity to refine what you learn from your teachers. When practicing, pick one task and focus on it to help you master each skill.
Ask Plenty of Questions
If there’s something you don’t understand, feel free to ask. Your teachers are there to share their knowledge of music and the instrument with you. Communication is a big part of learning, and it does help the learning process when you share your concerns. Being honest with your teachers also create a more open atmosphere that can help you discover music on your own terms.
Tips to Help You Learn
Picking up a few tips before your firstguitar lesson can help make your first day more productive. Use these tips to give yourself a bit of a head start with the guitar.
- Avoid the left-hand death grip -Pressing your fingers against the fretboard can be hard work for beginners. One common mistake is hooking your left thumb over the fretboard for more leverage. Instead, keep your thumb on the back of the guitar’s neck. This forces you to rely on your fingertips, which are more precise for playing the notes you want.
- Take it slow – At first, you may not be able to play all that quickly, but that’s nothing to worry about. Proper technique is more about accurate fingering and hitting the right notes. Focus on making your fingering more precise, and speed will come on its own.
- Learn to take breaks – Avoid pushing yourself too hard at the beginning. Once your muscles get tired and your fingertips start to hurt, allow yourself to relax for a while. Knowing your limits helps you avoid injury that could get in the way of practicing.
- Always use correct fingering – People have been playing the guitar for a very long time; the suggested fingering techniques are the result of this wealth of experience. Using the proper fingering will make playing easier and help you to get the sound you want from your guitar. Practice some basic finger workouts to strengthen your fingers and make playing easier.
At DeGazon Music Studios, we believe music can be a fun and engaging hobby for anyone, from the young to the young at heart. There’s plenty of gain from studying music, from the pleasure of learning a new skill to improving your mental health. Give us a call at (416) 527-3769 Ext. 1 or request info about music lessons and get your FREE trial lesson for music classes and pick up a fun new skill. Take advantage of this offer today.