This is a guest post by Kevin DePew from the awesome site Relax and Learn Guitar. Kevin has been playing guitar for over 30 years, and RLG includes a variety of video lessons, personalized instruction, and a dedicated online community of people who want to learn guitar.
I have worked with a lot of people and taught many guitar lessons. I like to ask people what they are having trouble with so I can figure out where to start with them. I have noticed some common themes over the years when people answer that question.
Many of the “problems” people identify as barriers to learning guitar actually turned out to be myths.
I summarized what I call “false beliefs” here in hopes that people can learn from them and overcome some myths while they continue on their guitar journey.
False Belief #1 : I am too old to learn guitar.
Fact: Simply not true. If you think you are too old then you probably are. But really, learning to play guitar is more about desire, consistency, practice, and follow through than anything else. If you want to play the guitar, then play.
False belief #2: I have to study music theory to play guitar.
Fact: Fact: Some of the greatest guitar players in the world never studied music theory. In fact, many never even took lessons. You’ll need to know the basics, but nothing too intense. If you’re fascinated by music theory and want to really dive into it, go for it.
False belief #3: I have to play fast to be good.
Fact: If it sounds good, it is good. Speed has nothing to do with it. It is more about being creative and saying something musically. When you are first starting out you should focus on accuracy and not speed. You don’t want to learn mistakes faster. Speed will come with time.
False belief #4: I have to practice scales over and over and over to be able to play lead guitar.
Fact: Playing scales up and down the neck is not as important as some basic knowledge of patterns and understanding how they fit together in music.
False belief #5: I don’t have the “right” hands for the guitar.
Fact: It does not matter if your fingers are short and stubby or long and skinny. When you first start out you will likely have a little trouble fretting chords and notes. This is normal and your fingers will touch the wrong strings. It takes some practice and a little while to figure out your own technique. The guitar was made to fit our hands perfectly.
False belief #6 : I have to spend hours a day practicing.
Fact: It is more important that you practice a little each day, maybe 15 minutes, than it is to spend hours practicing. If you are intentional and consistent with your practice, you will learn to play just fine.
False belief #7: I need to spend a lot of money to get a good guitar.
Fact: Really not true. A thousand dollar guitar is not going to help you learn faster or play better. But you do want a solid guitar to start out with. Something with low action and a solid top if possible. You can get by with about $300 for a great starter acoustic.
False belief #8: I can learn everything I need to know online.
Fact: While you can find everything you need to know, actually sifting through the massive amounts of content and then working with someone one on one for accountability is your best bet at making progress on the guitar.
False belief #9: I have to be born to do this.
Fact: Not everyone can be a virtuoso. But practice enough and you will be good enough. Play and learn with others and you will be even better. The important thing is that you enjoy playing, that music brings you joy, helps you relax and keeps you active.
False belief #10: You have to be able to read music to play guitar.
Fact: The guitar is the perfect instrument to learn without having to read music. The strings and frets and the theory are all set up in a way that you can learn simply using numbers. Really.
Learning to play, or picking the guitar back up again, is totally within your reach! Make it a priority and you will be glad you did!
Don’t let these false beliefs hold you back!