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Old 10-31-2012, 04:51 PM   #1
giutar
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Teacher for classical or electric? Or both?

Hello everyone

I have a question regarding guitar teachers.

I've been playing (acoustic guitar) for about 5 months, so I'm still a beginner. My goal is to become as good on the electric guitar as possible, but I also want to be able to play acoustic guitar. My main focus however is definitely on the electric guitar.

Now I have a chance to get lessons from a classical guitar teacher, who is really good at teaching technique. Although my future focus and actual interest is in the electric guitar and although my preferred taste of music is not classical, but rock, I am tending to get lessons from that teacher.

My idea is that for a beginner it might be more important to learn good general technique than developing musical skills in a certain genre right form day 1. (Which will get more important as technical skills improve.)

So my questions:

- Do you think it's good to get lessons from that classical guitar teacher, who is k very good at teaching technique, or should I go straight to an electric guitar teacher?
- To what extend can technical skills learned on acoustic guitar be transferred to electric guitar?
- What do you think about the idea of taking classical and electric guitar lessons from 2 different teachers at the same time? - Productive supplementation or counterproductive mess?

Thanks for any advice,
greetings,
giutar
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:52 PM   #2
KG6_Steven
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First of all, welcome. Hope you're enjoying playing and never give it up. I've been playing for a few years now and still enjoy it. Got my Taylor 314CE on my lap right now.

Good news! If you learn to play acoustic, then you also know how to play electric!!! 6-string guitar is 6-string guitar, no matter if it's electric or acoustic. I can pick up either and play without even thinking twice.

Now then... If you're thinking about hiring an instructor, this is the time to do it. You've only been playing for 5 months, so you may have some bad habits and poor technique, but it's still correctable.

You mentioned the instructor is a classical teacher. One thing you must realize is that classical guitar is a completely different animal from the stuff most of us play. From the way they hold the guitar, to the way it's played, to the guitar itself - it's different. If this teacher is also capable of teaching regular guitar, then you're probably good. If he/she is only capable of instructing classical guitar, then you need to reconsider your idea to use them - unless you tend to focus on classical guitar. See what I'm saying here? In that case, you'd be far better off hiring a different instructor - one who is capable of teaching regular ol' guitar.

What do I think about the idea of taking lessons from two instructors at once? Bad idea. Why? I took private guitar lessons for 6 years. Each week I had material to work on for the next lesson. Some of the lessons were fairly intense. Had I been taking lessons from another instructor, I wouldn't have had adequate time to prepare for the next lesson - somebody would've had to take a back seat. My advice to you would be to pick one or the other - either classical or regular and do that and only that.

One more bit of advice for you. Something I've always wanted to learn was piano. I held off on starting piano lessons until I had taken guitar lessons for about 5 years. I had that I had to progress to a certain point with my guitar playing, before I could consider taking piano. That idea actually worked out fairly well, but I still found myself trying to make time to practice both instruments.

Finally, learning good technique will result in good skills. There is no substitute for learning good technique.

Last edited by KG6_Steven : 10-31-2012 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 11-01-2012, 03:30 AM   #3
Sickz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KG6_Steven

You mentioned the instructor is a classical teacher. One thing you must realize is that classical guitar is a completely different animal from the stuff most of us play. From the way they hold the guitar, to the way it's played, to the guitar itself - it's different. If this teacher is also capable of teaching regular guitar, then you're probably good. If he/she is only capable of instructing classical guitar, then you need to reconsider your idea to use them - unless you tend to focus on classical guitar. See what I'm saying here? In that case, you'd be far better off hiring a different instructor - one who is capable of teaching regular ol' guitar.



I don't necessary agree with you there. If your only talking technique i would actually prefer a classical tutor, cause most of them have really good technique that can be applied to the electric guitar later. The only thing they lack is a pick, otherwise they are golden in my opinion. Their left hand technique is vey good for both classical guitar aswell as electric.

Once again, if we are only talking technique at the moment, you would have to get a really established electric guitar player to teach you, someone who knows his shit when it comes to posture, left/right hand technique, economy of motion, relaxation etc.

Just my 2 cents, that is my experience having a lot of guitar teachers as friends, and being one myself. If you can manage, i would probably take lessons from both though.
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:21 AM   #4
giutar
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@KG6_Steven, sickz

thank you for your helpful and friendly answers! Mhmm, you have contrary view points, both of which I can follow.

I think the teacher I mentioned is a classical guitar teacher. My future focus will definitely not be on classical guitar. I'm still undecided whether taking classical guitar lessons is a good or not so good idea....Didn't many electric guitar virtuosi also have classical guitar lessons at some point of their journey? (not sure about that, just asking)

KG6, I also understand your warning of having 2 teachers at once. Especially since I am naturally bad at multitasking... However I can also imagine it being good, to get different viewpoints, approaches at the same time...

I do tend to get lessons from the classical guitar teacher. Maybe for 1-2 years to develop good technique (especially left hand, as sickz pointed out) If I feel like I have the capacity to handle another teacher (electric) at the same time, I can start any time. -Otherwise I would just stick to classical guitar for 1-2 years and then shift my focus toward electric....Good plan?
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:57 AM   #5
Sickz
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Well, the one guitarist i can point out for a fact at the moment is Chris Broderick (Ex- Nevermore, currently in Megadeth), he was taught classical guitar (amongst other things) while attending music collage, i am sure you can find a video of him on youtube or something if you search Chris Broderick classical guitar or something.

Back to the point. I believe classical guitar would be a good way to start for a year or two. Since classical guitar players aswell as jazz players more often than not have better technique when it comes to relaxed playing, economy of motion, posture, how to practice, theory and such. (Once again, speaking from my own personal experiences, so don't jump me if you've had other experiences) And that is why i think classical guitar lessons would benefit you more than guitar lessons from a guy that is more rock orientated. (I can of course be wrong and that this rock guitar teacher have a very solid foundation of the proper ways of practice, theory, posture and technique, but i have only met a handful that have.)

The only downside i can see is that he might not be able to teach you proper right hand technique, but with the principles of correct practice you should be able to build that yourself. And after doing your Classical homework you can always practice rock guitar afterwards and still learn both.

But yeah, 2 years of classical for a good foundation and then taking lessons in rock guitar sounds fine to me, and as said, even better if you have the time to do both at once.

I just want to once again point out that this is based on my opinion and my own experiences. I respect other peoples opinions and i am just here to give my advice on the matter. I hope you come to a conclusion your happy wiith and i wish you the best with your progression in guitar playing.
__________________
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."

Last edited by Sickz : 11-01-2012 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:44 AM   #6
CryogenicHusk
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OP, I am on a similar boat, and in my kind of limited experience, here's my 2 cents:

My first love was the electric guitar. All I wanted to play was rock/shred and my biggest idol was (and still is) Jason Becker, but my passion for learning as much as I could on theory (instead of just what I need) grew and grew.

About 8 months ago, I started taking lessons from a classical teacher (my gf, who knew how serious I was about learning music in general, suggested this as the best way to really learn it), and since I've largely neglected the electric guitar because I often don't have enough time to practice it. The more I progress, the more preparation the next lesson takes. So far the biggest hurdle has been getting used to notation. Reading sheet for the guitar is A LOT harder than reading tab and arguably harder than reading sheet for the piano, even.

IMO, playing classical and playing rock with distortion require somewhat different technique. Chris Borderick plays both with excellent technique, but I am absolutely certain he put in the time for EACH separately too. I'm pretty sure he didn't just learn classical without ever playing electric, and one day just pick up the electric and shred away. For instance, with classical technique, you curve your fingers so that you fret with pretty much the exact tip. With rock electric, your index finger cannot be in that position because you can't mute the higher strings' string noise like that. Vibrato is performed differently in both styles too. That's just to name a couple of smaller differences (there's, arguably, some bigger differences going on).

On the plus side, I've heard that if you can "pick up" classical, learning other styles becomes much easier later on (there's more than just finger technique to learning a style of music). I can kind of see why (I've learned A LOT more about key signatures, time signatures, notation, dynamics, and rhythmic figures than I believe I could have with a rock guitar approach or by myself, and in just 8 months with a good teacher and regular long practice sessions)... So if, like me, you want to learn MUSIC and not just rock or x and y genres, but music as a whole, then classical will probably be a good idea. Classical has also made me branch out and pay closer attention to different aspects of different musics, and so my list of idols/influences has grown a lot. On the negative side, though, I kind of miss being in bands and jamming with my friends and coming up with cool riffs with them. I THINK most of the repertoire for classical is solo, and the pieces that aren't are still to advanced for me. If you're just interested in rock, being in bands and jamming, then I'd find a GOOD rock guitar teacher if I were you.

tl;dr Take lessons on the one you're most passionate for. Just make sure you get a good teacher who can teach you well and help you get where you want to be. If you're equally passionate about both, then try to take lessons on both if you have the time to put in into preparation for both.

edit: if you find a teacher who plays both, even better! Get him to teach you in both styles. My teacher knows how to play both, so whenever I have a specific question on rock guitar, he usually knows how to answer. It's tough, though, cause there's only so much you can teach in 1 hour. We usually only get through classical stuff and by then the hour is gone.

Last edited by CryogenicHusk : 11-01-2012 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:42 AM   #7
giutar
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@sickz,

thank you for your advice and your good wishes!

It is also my impression, that classical and jazz guitar players have - usually - better technique.

So I think I won't go wrong with 1-2 years of developing a proper technique by taking classical lessons. And, as you wrote, pick up the electric guitar, whenever I'm done with my classical homework. Or, if there's no time left, start the electric after 1-2 years of classical lessons.

And anyway, what are 1-2 years of classical lessons, when I can spend many years/ decades with only the electric guitar afterwards. I've actually come to believe that starting classical first will only profit me in the long run.

@CryogenicHusk

thank you for your insightful description of you own situation, which is somewhat similar to mine! Very helpful.

Quote:
I'm pretty sure he didn't just learn classical without ever playing electric, and one day just pick up the electric and shred away.


That makes absolute sense to me. There are probably many new skills/techniques that you have to learn when switching to electric guitar, even after having built a good foundation on the classical guitar. What I am interested in is the "big picture": Say, I have 40 years of guitar playing . My goal is to become a good rock guitarist and a good overall musician. What's the better approach, taking electric guitar lessons from day 1, or starting out with a good classical foundation, and still having plenty of time to develop skills on the electric guitar. - The more I think, and read your answers here, the more I come to believe, that putting a classical foundation at the beginning will pay off in the long run.

Yes, and like you, I'm also very interested in learning music as a whole and not become focussed too early on only one specific genre/aspect of music. It's probably harder this way to go into other directions later on. And it seems to me that with a classical foundation it's more likely to stay open-minded and be able to relate to many other styles of music than it is when focussing on one specific style from day 1.

What exactly is your plan? Are you going to shift your focus to electric guitar at some point? After how long of classical lessons?

Thank you again for your help!
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:31 AM   #8
Sickz
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I just came back here to give one more piece of advice, that in my opinion should be said to every musician ever, then if they want to follow it is up to them, but you seem like a nice guy that understand that there are many important aspects of music and you are very passionate about learning.

I want to advice you to do three things in addition to learning the guitar.

1) Learn music theory. It will benefit you so much. And if you as said want to be a good all around guitar player and musician i think it is crucial to know theory. Remember, theory is not "rules" of any sort, it's just there to describe what you are doing musically. Like just saying "Play an A major chord" is theory! Cause the term A major is just a name for the sound if you catch my drift. Back to the point, theory is great to have and it will only benefit your playing aswell as it will make it easier to communicate with other musicians.

2) Learn to read sheet music. Sheet music is often the standard most musicians go by. It's better than tabs because it shows the rhytmic values of each note, and it provides more information (Time signature, key signature etc). And you will also be able to learn stuff on guitar that is played by other instruments, by reading notation you think notes instead of frets.

3) Train your ear. Sheet music is good, but nothing beats a good ear. There are many great songs out there that don't have sheet music or tab for them. Being able to learn songs by listening to them is one of the top 3 abilities a musician can have. It will also help you when it comes to writing, improvising and such.

That was all. Now i've given you all the advice i can at the moment. As said before, i wish you luck on your musical journey. If you ever need a second opinion on something or need to ask a question, hit me. Good luck!
__________________
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:05 AM   #9
CryogenicHusk
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Sickz spoke wisdom right there.

@giutar: if you're interested in learning music as a whole (as in just theory), then it'll be just fine to learn on the electric, provided you find a good teacher who can fit your needs and teach you general theory (all those things Sickz mentioned). Learning from a classical teacher is not the only way to learn theory (sheet music reading included. I don't think Steve Vai or Paul Gilbert are classically trained, yet they both shred on rock guitar and can also read sheet. That being said, most electric guitar players don't read sheet, so be careful your teacher does, if this is something you want to learn. It definitely helps to work on it gradually and with a teacher. I tried to teach it to myself prior to getting a classical teacher, and I didn't get very far, lol. But it depends... I was never great at self-teaching but some people are). But if you have a strong interest in classical guitar technique itself, like I do now, you'd do well to start with classical and get a foundation.

As for me: Well my interests have shifted. I really fell in love with classical guitar since I started it and want to focus on it as much as I can and progress on it. In the beginning I didn't expect my interest in classical guitar playing to grow to be on par with my interest in electric guitar, but it pretty much did.

I'm going with the flow, so what I'm doing is I've started slowly relearning on the electric with proper technique. I don't know/doubt that I'll be able to play Jason Becker songs any time soon, but in the meanwhile I am more than happy to learn the instrument inside out: learn the fretboard, learn to improvise and develop a voice that sounds like my own and learn enough so that when I hear something in my head, my fingers can do it (ear training! Any good teacher either modern or classical can help you with this).

Since I've gone back to relearning, I'm taking a "less is more" approach as in I'm not striving for technicality as a goal, anymore, but getting comfortable creating simple but "big" riffs (think deep purple and black sabbath), learning whole songs instead of just licks/riffs, solos, different rhythms and genres (other than neoclassical shred or prog rock/metal. I want to learn funk, jazz, salsa, and more). Back to basics focusing on musicality/phrasing (with musicality and phrasing, David Gilmour comes to mind). Eventually when my theory knowledge and classical guitar skill are more advanced, I'll probably give shred a try again, but by then I hope my electric guitar basics are more solid than first time around. It might take years. In the meanwhile, I'm quite happy and having fun advancing classical, simpler "popular" genes, basics on the electric (not too demanding if you stick to the basics), and theory.

Bottom line: it's up to you. Just don't force yourself to do anything you don't really REALLY want. Music's supposed to be fun. If you decide to start with classical for 2 years and then move on to electric, I doubt it'll do any harm. Like learning classical for 2 years is NOT going to cause some irreversible damage to your overall technique or anything like that. You will still always be able to pick up the electric and learn rock technique (and other nuances such as rhythm, key signatures, etc, might be easier to understand then because of your classical training). But if you don't really have any interest in classical technique itself (playing with fingers instead of pick and properly learning classical pieces because you love the way they sound. Think of it almost as playing an entirely different instrument like the piano, except a bit more similar to guitar, lol), I would recommend you jump straight to electric because those 2 years might feel more like a chore when you could've been having fun learning what you actually were interested in.

You can always also try classical lessons for a month, or something, and see how you feel about it. You might just fall in love with it like I did. But if you don't, you can always quit and get lessons on the electric Starting out that's how I felt: I had nothing to lose. If I didn't like it, I could always quit and get an electric guitar teacher. Good luck!

Last edited by CryogenicHusk : 11-02-2012 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:23 AM   #10
giutar
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Sickz and CryogenicHusk, a big thank you to both of you for your really helpful advise!



sickz, I agree with everything that you wrote about the importance of learning music theory, sight reading and ear training. I'm actually looking forward to learning these aspects of music and it does not (at this point) feel like something annoying, I'd want to avoid. I've started to learn sight reading, and I like the process of learning it, although there's still a long way to go.

All aspects you mentioned are important, but to me it feels like ear training is the most valuable. I haven't started any kind of ear training yet and I hope I have the ability to develop my ears...

Once again, thank you for your kind advice, your good wishes and your offer to ask you, if I need a second opinion.
All the best for your (musical) journey!


CryogenicHusk,

Quote:
But if you have a strong interest in classical guitar technique itself, like I do now, you'd do well to start with classical and get a foundation.


Yes I actually have a strong interest in classical guitar, but an even stronger interest in electric guitar. Electric guitar is where my long term, greater interest lies...if that makes sense

Quote:
As for me: Well my interests have shifted. I really fell in love with classical guitar since I started it and want to focus on it as much as I can and progress on it. In the beginning I didn't expect my interest in classical guitar playing to grow to be on par with my interest in electric guitar, but it pretty much did.


Nice to hear how you opened up to classical guitar. To me it sounds like you're really able to follow what speaks to you.

Quote:
develop a voice that sounds like my own and learn enough so that when I hear something in my head, my fingers can do it (ear training! Any good teacher either modern or classical can help you with this).


That's definitely also on my "to-learn-list". And I'm really looking forward to finding out what my voice is like and develop it and also to learn to play what I hear in my head. - It does feel like quite some "work" for me, but nice work....

Quote:
Bottom line: it's up to you. Just don't force yourself to do anything you don't really REALLY want. Music's supposed to be fun


I absolutely agree

Quote:
But if you don't really have any interest in classical technique itself


The thing is, I really do have great interest in learning classical guitar. It's definitely something I'm looking forward to a lot. Still I'm even more looking forward to becoming as good a musician as possible on the electric guitar.

I think it's like this:

Supposedly, I had to make a choice now for either classical or electric guitar and would not be allowed to touch the other for the rest of my life, my choice would definitely be electric guitar. (Sorry, this is a bit silly )

But since I do have the free choice to play whatever guitar I want at any time, I'm quite decided to start out with classical guitar. Basically for theses reasons:

- I believe it makes me more open-minded for other styles of music. I won't become a "specialist" too early on. -There will still be enough years left to become a specialist
- I think that it's much harder to find an electric guitar teacher that will teach proper technique than it is to find a classical guitar teacher. -And I do have a really good classical teacher on hand, whereas I don't know a good instructor for electric guitar. (They are definitely out there, just saying I personally don't know anyone)
- Later on -where I see myself playing (almost exclusively) the electric guitar - I still want to be able to pick up the classical guitar and know what to do with it..

- To me, being able to play classical guitar would be a great value in itself. Plus, I can imagine it'll make me a better electric guitar player in the long run.

So that's basically how I - as a beginner - see it. And that's why I'm practically decided to start with classical guitar for 1-2 years.



I just want to say that you, Sickz and CryogenicHusk, have really put in some help for me. I have taken time to think about what you wrote and you have given me a sense of direction. Many thanks
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:05 AM   #11
CryogenicHusk
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No problem. Sounds like learning classical is for you, then. Go with it and learn it! And like you said, you always have a choice and don't have to force yourself. Cool, man. Again, best of luck on your musical career.
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