Of the ways to learn to play guitar, many people feel that formal tuition is the best. There are definite advantages to formal tuition, the major one being that you will have someone who can look at your guitar technique and ensure that bad habits are not creeping in as you progress. The flip side of that particular argument is that everyone should develop their own technique and in turn their own guitar style – not everyone has or will be able to develop the dexterity of Yngwie Malmsteen but they can still become excellent guitarists by developing their own style. The other advantage of formal tuition is that you can follow a formalised guitar course syllabus and take examinations allowing progression through a series of grades. If you go down the grading route, the courses themselves can be quite rigid and inflexible, depending on the instructor, and some will find that this will make learning guitar more of a chore than a joy. Others will feel the opposite is true and that having clearly defined milestones and goals will help them succeed.
Formal guitar tuition is the most expensive way to learn guitar. Depending on the guitar teacher or instructor, courses can cost around £20-30 per hour (for illustration purposes only). So four lessons a month will cost about £80 – £120 plus the cost of buying course materials. This cost can be reduced by attending group lessons where your guitar instructor can still keep an eye on your guitar technique but not as much as you would get with one on one lessons.
So how do I find out more about formal guitar tuition?
If you would like to find a guitar instructor for one on one lessons the place to start would be to visit the Registry of Guitar Tutors website (RGT – opens in new window) and get a list of instructors in your area (they have a town/post code search facility). You can also check out details of the formal guitar course materials on this site. If you’re keen to get your guitar grades, details of the examinations for each type of guitar (classical guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass guitar) can be also be found on the RGT website.
These materials can also be obtained from MusicRoom.com (opens in new window). If you’re interested in rock guitar, you can find more information at Rockschool – the UK’s only dedicated rock and pop exams board – this allows you to pass grades in rock guitar and bass guitar (as well as drums, vocals and popular piano) and will take you from the “debut” level all the way up to Grade 8. Rockschool also offers diplomas in performance and teaching as well as music practitioner and educator qualifications. Course materials for Rockschool grades are also available from MusicRoom.com.
I also suggest that you should also check with your local music shop to find out about local guitar tuition availability. The staff who work there may know of or even be guitar teachers themselves. Other possibilities include lifestyle courses at your local college. These courses are normally in the form of group lessons and will vary in duration (for example the lifestyle guitar course in Langside College in Glasgow runs for 6-10 weeks in the evenings and lessons are normally 2 hours long, although class sizes can start rather large (the numbers in classes such as these normally reduce as time goes on as people realise that learning to play guitar requires more dedication than they can afford).
You must decide what is right for you. There’s nothing to stop you combining learning methods or trying out different learning methods until you find the right one(s) for you. I would certainly recommend that you suss out a guitar instructor, maybe only commit to one or two guitar lessons until you get to know them and you feel confident that you can work with them.