Have you or your child just signed up for guitar lessons? Whether it's for yourself or a young aspiring musician in your family, signing up for lessons is a moment worth celebrating. But we also understand that new beginnings can come with questions and a touch of uncertainty. What should you do before the first lesson? What can you expect during that initial introduction to the guitar, and what might be unrealistic to anticipate? In this article, we'll guide you through the exciting first steps, from preparing for the lesson to understanding the fundamentals you'll likely explore, like tuning the guitar, playing a few notes, and even attempting a chord or two. We'll also discuss what not to expect, such as instant mastery or a rigid curriculum, and share tips for nurturing this newfound musical passion after the lesson. Whether it's your journey or your child's, welcome to the world of guitar—where creativity flourishes, skills grow, and dreams are strummed into reality.
I. Before the Lesson
A. Choosing Your Instrument
Before walking into the lesson, it's vital to select the right guitar that suits your style, comfort, and musical aspirations. However, this doesn't necessarily mean rushing out to buy the first, or the cheapest, guitar you see. In fact, choosing a low-quality or toy guitar, like some found in big-box stores or online retailers, can be a discouraging and even detrimental start to your musical journey. These instruments often have issues with tuning stability, playability, and tonal accuracy due to their imprecise manufacturing. The strings might be too far off the neck, or the tonality and pitch may be inaccurate, all of which can hinder progress and dampen enthusiasm.
That's why at Descant Music, we offer rental guitars for our students. This rental option provides access to well-maintained, quality instruments, ensuring a positive learning experience. It's a sensible way to make sure you or your child is committed to playing the guitar before making a purchase. Plus, a rental guitar from a reputable source ensures you're learning on a real instrument that's built to support your growth rather than impede it.
If you're contemplating whether to start with an electric or acoustic guitar, it's worth considering your musical goals and the genre you're drawn to. The decision between these two can be a personal one, especially for a beginner. To help guide you through this important choice, you can CLICK HERE to read our in-depth article "Acoustic or Electric Guitars for Beginners?"
B. Basic Accessories
In addition to your chosen guitar, you'll want to bring some essential accessories to your first lesson. These tools will support your learning process and make your experience more enjoyable:
Picks: A variety of picks will allow you to experiment with different sounds and find what feels most comfortable for you.
Tuner: This is a must-have to ensure your guitar is in tune. Some instructors might prefer tuning by ear, but a tuner will provide a quick and accurate reference, especially at the beginning of your learning journey.
Capo: While not always necessary in the first lesson, having a capo on hand can be useful as you progress. It changes the key of the guitar, allowing you to play different songs more easily.
Notebook: Keeping a dedicated notebook for jotting down notes, chords, tips, and practice goals is a great way to stay organized and track your progress.
C. Mindset and Expectations
Approach the first lesson with an open mind and a positive attitude. Understanding that learning guitar is a gradual process will set you up for success. Stay patient with yourself, be ready to embrace new challenges, and remember that every guitarist started with that first lesson.
II. The First Guitar Lesson
The excitement of the first guitar lesson can be both thrilling and intimidating. Rest assured, though, that your instructor's primary goal is to create a welcoming and supportive environment tailored to your unique needs and aspirations. Whether you're an absolute beginner, someone with a bit of self-taught experience, or even a musician looking to switch instruments, your first lesson will be carefully shaped to meet you where you are.
A. Introduction to the Instrument
Your lesson will likely begin with a friendly introduction to the guitar, its parts, and the mechanics of how it produces sound. Understanding these basics provides a solid foundation for future learning and demystifies the instrument. Expect a dialogue about your musical tastes and goals, as this information will guide the instructor in personalizing your learning path.
B. Tuning the Guitar
Whether you've never touched a guitar or have some familiarity with it, learning to tune your guitar is crucial. It ensures that your instrument sounds right and trains your ear to recognize proper pitch. Your instructor will demonstrate and guide you through this process, leaving you with a valuable lifelong skill.
C. Basic Chords and Scales or Simpler Concepts
Depending on your prior musical experience and comfort level, this portion of the lesson may vary significantly. Absolute beginners might focus on how to hold the guitar properly, play single notes, or explore musical terminology. Those ready to dig deeper might venture into basic chords, scales, and even strumming patterns. Remember, these are building blocks learned gradually, so don't be discouraged if it seems complex at first.
D. Strumming and Picking Techniques
These techniques are fundamental skills for playing the guitar, and they'll be introduced in a manner that matches your current level and pace. Whether it's your first time picking up a pick or you've been strumming on your own, your instructor will guide you through exercises to make those strings sing.
E. Playing a Simple Song or Exploring Musical Interests
This section might look different for everyone. Some might play a simple melody or riff, while others might dive into a favorite song or musical concept. The joy of making music is immediate, and this hands-on approach boosts confidence and enthusiasm, no matter how simple or complex the material. For those with prior musical training, the lesson might also involve re-contextualizing known concepts through the lens of the guitar.
F. Taking Notes and Reflecting
Throughout the lesson, your instructor may jot down notes, terms, and perhaps simple music theory concepts in a notebook. This practice reinforces learning and provides a tangible reference to revisit between lessons. The first lesson is also a chance for both you and the instructor to figure each other out, ensuring a positive and productive learning relationship.
III. What Not to Expect
Starting guitar lessons can be an exciting yet daunting experience, filled with a mix of anticipation, curiosity, and sometimes even a few misconceptions or fears. Here's what you shouldn't expect when you walk into your first guitar lesson at Descant Music:
A. Instant Mastery
Learning to play the guitar is a journey, not a sprint. It requires patience, consistent practice, and a willingness to embrace the learning process. Don't be hard on yourself if you don't nail that chord or riff right away. Progress comes with time, and your instructor will be there to guide and support you every step of the way. Mistakes are a natural and essential part of learning, so embrace them as opportunities to grow.
B. A Fixed Curriculum
At Descant Music and Art Studio, we recognize that every learner is unique, with different tastes, goals, and backgrounds. You won't find a one-size-fits-all approach here. Instead, lessons are customized to suit your pace, interests, and needs, ensuring a personal touch. Whether you're into rock, jazz, classical, or something else entirely, your lessons will be tailored to inspire and challenge you in a way that resonates with you.
C. A Judgmental or Mean Instructor
It's natural to feel a bit nervous about meeting your instructor, especially if it's your first time taking music lessons. Some students might even worry that their teacher will be mean or judgmental. Rest assured, our teachers at Descant Music are anything but that. We select instructors who are not only skilled musicians but also compassionate educators. They understand that everyone comes from different musical backgrounds and are patient, encouraging, and happy to help you progress at your own pace. We're here to help, not to judge!
D. Rigid Expectations
Learning an instrument is a personal experience, and it's essential to know that it's okay to move at your own speed. While you might have a picture in your mind of what learning the guitar should look like, be open to the journey taking unexpected turns. Flexibility and a willingness to explore can lead to a more enriching and enjoyable learning experience.
IV. After the Lesson
The end of your first guitar lesson is just the beginning of your musical journey. Here's what you can expect and what will be expected of you after your lesson at Descant Music:
A. Practice Assignments
Expect to leave your lesson with specific exercises, songs, or techniques to practice. Consistent practice is vital for progress, and your teacher will craft assignments that align with what you've learned and where you're headed. These aren't just arbitrary tasks; they're designed to reinforce your understanding and build your skills. Commitment to your practice will translate to noticeable growth over time.
B. Feedback and Questions
Your instructor will provide feedback on your playing and entertain any questions you may have. Don't hesitate to ask for clarity on anything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it might seem. Asking questions is a sign of curiosity and intelligence, not confusion. In fact, it's one of the smartest things you can do as it helps your teacher understand how to teach you more effectively.
C. Utilizing the Student Teacher Portal
At Descant Music, we've integrated a Student Teacher Portal to enhance the communication between students and teachers. This portal is not just a tool but an integral part of your progress. Whether it's jotting down questions, sharing materials, or linking to specific music, the portal acts as a continuous bridge between lessons. If a question pops up during practice, simply note it in the portal, ensuring that both you and your teacher remember to address it in the next lesson. Far from indicating a lack of understanding, a page full of question marks represents an engaged and thoughtful student. Embrace this approach, for it's through inquiry that true learning blossoms.
D. Reflecting on the Lesson
Take some time to reflect on what you've learned, what you enjoyed, and what you found challenging. This reflection not only helps in internalizing the lesson but also informs your teacher about your needs and preferences. It's a collaborative process, and your insights contribute to shaping your unique learning path.
Conclusion: Your Journey Begins Here
The journey to becoming a guitarist is filled with excitement, curiosity, and personal growth. From selecting the right instrument that aligns with your style and comfort to understanding the intricacies of chords, scales, and techniques, every step is integral to building a solid foundation. Embracing the learning process with patience, openness, and a readiness to explore is key to a successful and fulfilling musical adventure. At Descant Music, lessons are tailored to your unique needs, pace, and aspirations, supported by compassionate instructors committed to guiding you through every stage. So whether you're an absolute beginner or an experienced musician switching instruments, your path to mastery is a well-crafted blend of practice, inquiry, reflection, and joy. The melody of your guitar playing is just beginning, and the chords of your progress are waiting to be strummed.
Captivated by the world of music and eager to explore piano, voice, guitar, or bass guitar lessons? Take the next step on your musical journey by filling out our MORE INFORMATION form, and we'll connect with you soon!