5 Guitar Playing Myths

When it comes to playing guitar, not only is there a lot of bad information out there, some of it is just plain WRONG.  Figuring out the advice and correct information to help you learn to play the guitar is essential to your development.  Here are 5 myths about guitar playing.

  1. You don't need to learn music theory.  Learning to play our favorite songs on the guitar is why we all started playing but if you truly want to progress in your playing, music theory is essential.  I'm not saying you need to sign up for an expensive music school or anything but learning the fundamentals will help you better understand what you are playing and how you can truly “own” what you're playing.  If you want to do things such as improvise your own solos or play along to a jam track, you need a good grasp of music theory.  My favorite resource for learning music theory that is especially geared toward guitar has to be Steve Stine's Music Theory Made Easy.
  2. You are too young or old to learn guitar–  If you are able to sit up and hold a guitar, you can learn to play.  I have taught students as young as 5 and old as mid 60's to play the guitar.  You need to find the right teacher that can help you or find a quality guitar program to help you.  For kids I highly recommend Kids Rock Guitar by Steve Stine.  Steve did a course that is specifically geared toward teaching kids to play guitar.  He takes out all of the stuff that kids may not be in to right now and gets on to having fun with the guitar right away.  Another fantastic course is Nate Savage's Beginner Guitar System.  I did a review on it in my post- Battle of the Beginner Guitar Courses.
  3. You NEED a private guitar teacher to learn guitar-  This relates to myth #2.  If you have the means, I highly recommend using a private guitar teacher.  You will progress faster with the coaching and teaching of a private guitar teacher than if you learn on your own.  As a guitar teacher, I have experienced first hand, my students making greater progress having an in person teacher. The truth of it is though, there are a TON of great DVD and online programs that if you have the discipline and drive, you can learn on your own.  I have mentioned a number of different guitar programs on this site.  Some of my favorites include Nate Savage's Beginner Guitar System as I mentioned above, Marty Schwartz and his online guitar site- GuitarJamz.com and Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar.
  4. There is no benefit to learning the guitar.  This myth is the farthest from the truth.  Study after study shows that learning to play a musical instrument increases brain function and actually makes you smarter.  Psycholigist Gary Marcus wrote an excellent book about the psychology of learning to play the guitar called Guitar Zero: The Science of Becoming Musical at Any Age
    It gets a bit heavy at times but overall is a great read and will help you understand the mental side of learning to play the guitar.  Learning to play the guitar can also be a great way to earn extra money.  I know we all dream of being a big rock star but the odds are pretty slim.  You can, though, start a band and play local gigs or better yet teach others to play the guitar.  Teaching is a fantastic way to help others and improve your own guitar playing.  Donnie Schexnayder has a fantastic podcast and website called Start Teaching Guitar that has to be the best resource for helping guitar teachers start and run a successful business teaching guitar.
  5. Learning to play the guitar takes too much time.  If you want to become a guitar virtuoso, then yes you are going to have to put in the hours.  Most of us though just want to get to the point of being able to play along with our favorite songs or jam with some backing tracks.  I tell all of my private guitar students, 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week will give them good progress.  In an hour long television show, there is 18 minutes worth of commercials.  Grab your guitar during the commercial breaks and you'll get your practice time in.  Dan Denley and the GuitarZoom team put together a great course that is designed for this sort of practice called     6 Minute Guitar.  The course is broken down in to short lessons, allowing you to learn something new in a short period of time to help accelerate your learning.  It's a fantastic course if you have a busy schedule and want to fit your guitar practice in during small blocks of free time during the day.