Most guitar students I’ve ever taught or met want to be in a band. They want to play in rock bands. They want to play in church bands. Some admit, with only a little bit of coaxing, that they want to become rock stars some day. When I interview potential students about guitar lessons, the question often comes up: “Will private guitar lessons help me play guitar in a band?” The answer is a resounding “yes”. In this article, I’ll explain why.
Although it may seem that the spirit of being in a band defies the convention of structured guitar lessons, the fact is that working with a guitar teacher in private lessons provides many benefits in preparing students to do just that. Overall, guitar lessons help students learn the basics of the instrument and the universal musical aspects that can guarantee success in an ensemble.
As director of Lessons In Your Home, Baltimore, I’m glad when our guitar students have the goal of playing in a band. It’s a goal that can powerfully motivate them through the course of learning the instrument. After all, lessons and practice can be frustrating at times. When you have the goal of being a rock star, you’re more likely to work past the rough spots so you can get to where you want to be.
Learning the Basics of Guitar
One-on-one private instruction is the best way to teach the basics to a guitar student. Band mates in a garage band can share tips and tricks, but without guided instruction from a professional instructor, it’s very easy to pick up bad habits that will be hard to break.
First of all, the guitar can be a difficult instrument to approach as far as technique is concerned. Before a guitar student even addresses the musical issues of note-reading, scales, chord formation and rhythm, she faces very fundamental challenges with respect to posture, holding the guitar, left-hand technique and right-hand technique. A private instructor will make sure that she develops proper habits.
Once the student understands and starts implementing proper guitar techniques, her private instructor can teach the basics of chords, note reading, scales, and tempo. All of these are essential to playing music with a group. Members of a band or ensemble of any kind must have a common ground to communicate and practice effectively and efficiently.
Beyond the Basics of Guitar
Beyond the basics, an ensemble player must have a good ear, a strong sense of rhythm, and the ability to improvise. Once again, here is where private guitar instruction can help a guitar student on the way to rock stardom.
If you’re taking guitar lessons, your guitar teacher is your first band mate! You and your teacher can practice different roles, switching between rhythm and lead. Your teacher can play a rhythm backtrack while you practice solos. In this intimate, one-to-one setting, you can develop your ear so much more easily and effectively.
Lessons = Band Practice
In effect, your private guitar lessons are a sort of band practice, with your instructor being your first band mate. These lessons can jump start you on your goal of being in a band. You’ll learn proper habits that will serve you well for as long as you play guitar, and you’ll learn musical fundamentals that will make you a valuable contributor in any ensemble.