Studying Guitar

There are three principle avenues of study: 

1.Self-guided: 
Self-study is generally not ideal for beginners, but if you really 
want to play...then go for it, and let nothing stop you! 
 
There are a great number of fantastic resources for those wishing to learn 
on your own. I surely admire the drive and courage of those who self-teach. 
 
The downside of this approach is that it can allow formation of poor instrument 
technique or study skills. Either of these conditions can seriously retard student development
leading to frustration, a lack of consistent progress, and setbacks. 
 
The upside of this approach is that it can foster a truly creatively individual 
musical style in a highly motivated, diligent and dedicated student. 
Once beyond the fundamental instrumental training stage,
I do recommend that all musicians incorporate some elements of self-study 
into their training on a regular basis. 
 
By doing so, you can develop your own sense of perspective. 
A more personal approach to the instrument and the subject of music.
While formal study can create a guitarist, and more formal study...a musician, well 
focused self-study can transform that musician into a true musical artist. 
 
Instrumentally speaking, the guitar is perhaps the most varied in physical 
construction, sound, instructional methods, as well as stylistic approach, and musical deployment. 
This is what makes the guitar a great, rewarding instrument.
This fact also makes it very challenging to study at times. So the verdict: 
 
Do self-study, but try to have the structure and guidance of formal study at least in the beginning 
to avoid the development of poor technique, bad study habits or other musical deficiencies. 
The saying: "old habits die hard" has much merit...   
 
2. Private instruction: 
If you are fortunate to find and can afford the guidance provided by a
qualified instructor
by all means do so. Having your own teacher can be an excellent way to learn both instrumental 
technique as well as the theoretical aspects of music in a proper and efficient manner. 
 
A major consideration is selecting the "right" instructor.  
Teachers are subject to human strengths and weaknesses, as are are all of us mortals. 
Because of this, it is important to review an instructor's methods, style and personality to determine
your compatibility levels. Discuss your musical goals, influences and interests beforehand.
Request an instructional plan that can match these objectives. 
 
It is important to know what you wish to gain from your teacher and lesson plan.
This will help to maintain motivation and focus when challenges arise. 
The ideal instructor is neither too hard (leading to discouragement) or too easy 
(leading to boredom and retarded progress) but knowledgeable, open-minded 
and experienced enough to evaluate your needs "on the fly".  
 
Great teachers work to understand your needs, strengths, and weaknesses upfront 
as well as on a per session basis, and adapt their methods accordingly. 
Good student / teacher chemistry personally plus musically can lead to rapid progress and is
a most important consideration. Ideally one should balance private instruction with self-study 
in order to develop a personal musical style and level of understanding. 
I believe that music is an ultimate form of self-expression of art. 
In order for you to go beyond becoming simply a 
"guitarist" or "musician" you need to develop and maintain 
a personal sense of music style to become an artist. 
 
This has much to do with creativity. 
It is crucial to have an instructor who will foster creative musical development 
regardless of your current ability level. Rarely is it rewarding or satisfying long term to become 
a musical "clone" of your instructor. You must develop independent musical thoughts 
and ideas along the way. To insure this, I recommend that you find and employ as many 
good teachers as possible during your life's studies. Ideally each will provide yet another perspective 
from which to expand your musical horizons. Incorporating several good instructors along with diligent 
self-study will boost your development and avoid musical stagnation. 
"Talk music" with your peers often too!
      
3. Music school: 
Repeat after me..."music school is cool!"
Congratulations are in order if you have decided to make music a career or 
at least 
a significant part of your life. There is no substitute for earning a living doing something that you enjoy! 
Needless to say, this path takes much work, commitment, and usually some sizable financial expense as well. 
This said, going to school full time for music is an tremendous experience all of its own. 
 
Imagine being immersed in an environment where every possible musical resource is at your disposal.
Practice rooms, performance halls, books, music, instruments, instructors, and fellow students.
A place to eat, drink, sleep, and breathe music: who could ask for anything more? 
 
Also in the long run, skills gained by obtaining a music degree will boost your prospects for 
employment as a performer or instructor immeasurably. If you are considering taking "the plunge" find 
the best program that suits you geographically. There are so many great schools throughout the 
country that it is difficult to list any one above another. 
 
When selecting a program, do your homework first: investigate program costs and fees
then research the staff, curriculum, and alumni. If these are satisfactory, then plan a visit the 
school and check out the facilities. Does the place suit you and your goals? 
Is the "vibe" good, what feelings do you get?
 
Is there adequate access to living arrangements, shopping, entertainment and transportation? 
Finally, the most important question then becomes...can you succeed and thrive here? 
 
While I'm on the subject, I will say that Musician's Institute in Hollywood  is a favorite, and worthy 
of consideration. The facilities, instructors and location are all great. 
There are also frequent visits from noteworthy alums and guests as well. 
I love the "vibe" there! Musicians come from all over the world to become a part of this community.
Unquestionably, Musician's Institute has all of the elements needed to learn, play, 
and make valuable lifetime contacts in the music business while having fun! 
Berklee in Boston, is another great program. There are many others, 
so do your homework to find the environment that suits your goals and budget. 

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