Learning guitar can be one of the most amazing experiences of your life, if you know the specific end result you want, and you know how to get there. But it can also be one of the most difficult experiences of your life, if you don't know what you want, and you don't have a clear path to follow.
There are many myths and misconceptions about learning guitar, which leads most of beginning guitar players in the wrong directions. Things like You need natural talent to become a great guitar player, or You need to practice a LOT to become really good, Guitar teachers will only teach you theory, and will force you to play inside a box, or Learning songs is the best way to become a great player. There are dozens and dozens more; it would be impossible to list them all. I'll explain why these beliefs are false in a bit.
See, I used to believe these myths myself when I was trying to learn on my own, and I tried to come up with dozens of different solutions, which I THOUGHT worked (and they did, to some extent). The problem is, 99% of the solutions I found actually created a whole different issue of it's own (I didn't realize this until much, much later). This is the usual process that most self-taught players go through, so they end up sharing these makeshift solutions to other guitar players through facets like guitar forums and word of mouth to their friends. That is how the myths are spread! These common misbeliefs were started and spread throughout the guitar-playing world because so many guitar players are self-taught.
Well, after about 10 years of trying to teach myself, I had reached a point in my guitar playing where I couldn't progress any further, no longer how long I practiced. At that point, I decided I needed to do something drastic in order to improve So I found myself a professional, world-class guitar teacher.
And that's when my life changed.
I'm not saying that getting just any old guitar teacher will be the solution to your problems. You will need to invest a decent sum, and a lot of time and effort to become a good player. But having a GREAT teacher will make learning FUN, and EASY, and FAST! I give you a template for how to find such a teacher in my article, Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Guitar Teacher.
So, do you need natural talent? No. There ARE many guitar players who are naturally talented with some aspect of music technique, songwriting, hearing music, etc. And yet lack in other areas rhythm, music theory, etc. It does help to be talented in one or more areas, but every area can be developed and nurtured with correct and efficient practice.
Which leads me to how long you must practice to become really good. The truth is, you DO need to put I a LOT of time to become a master at anything. BUT, the time it takes can be significantly reduced by how effective your practice habits are. WHAT you practice is very important, but HOW you practice is infinitely more important. You could spend an hour practicing a piece of music a hundred times, and never get anywhere. You could also spend 15 minutes practicing that same piece of music a dozen times, and get a BIGGER RESULT. It all depends on HOW you practice. The TIME you spend has much less impact on your results. For example, you could practice boxing five hours a day by flailing your arms around wildly, and after 4 years get absolutely NOWHERE. OR, you could practice by getting a REAL, professional trainer, and in 6 months develop serious talent and win a competition. If you practice incorrectly, you will PLAY incorrectly. The longer you practice incorrectly, the harder it will be to correct those problems.
Now for the myth about guitar teachers: Since I was a kid, I didn't want a guitar teacher because I thought that I could learn whatever they had to offer from reading books or browsing online for free tabs. My belief was that I would be forced to play inside a box and it would limit my creativity that's what music theory does right? WRONG!!! Now that I know what music theory REALLY is, I know that it MASSIVELY expands your creativity, not the other way around. Anybody who thinks that way or tells you otherwise has no idea what they are talking about. In fact, I predict that anybody who has that kind of viewpoint doesn't know a single thing ABOUT theory in the first place. So do guitar teachers really only teach you theory? Actually, some will. But that's because they are not very good teachers. When you find a GREAT teacher, you will find that they will only teach you theory on a need-to-know basis. That means, you will ONLY learn theory if it's absolutely NECESSARY for you to move forward. AND you will also learn how to USE it, so that it's not just a useless lump of knowledge that you'll forget in a week.
Some guitar teachers (the bad ones) will only teach you songs. This works great for BEGINNERS who need to develop confidence with their playing, and interest for music. Once you can play a few songs, there really is no need to learn more, unless you want to perform them! A better practice would be to ANALYZE HOW SONGS ARE WRITTEN! You would learn a lot more in this way than to aimlessly try to learn songs (even if you try to increase the difficulty). This is why: once you have learned a song, or a piece of a song, what can you DO with that song? How can you APPLY it to another piece of music without knowing the theory behind the song? How can you WRITE a song with a lick that you copied from someone else? It would take a long time of going through the trial and error approach. That method comes with a lot of frustration, a lot of problems, a lot of wasted time, and probably not very well constructed songs. BUT IT IS POSSIBLE!!! I'm not saying it won't work. It will just be very difficult, and not very fun. I know this because I TRIED THAT, and it didn't work!
In conclusion, the answer to the question how hard will it be to learn guitar is simple. The more you invest your time and resources, the easier it will be. The more knowledge you seek, and absorb, the easier it will be. Don't believe that learning for free online is going to be the same. There's a reason why it's free Would you go to a dentist if he pulled your teeth for free??
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