One of my online students asked me how I learned to play the guitar, and I thought this would make a nice post for all to read.
It might motivate you, it might set you off, but anyhow, it will show you one thing most importantly: if I could do it, you can too. I was not born with a guitar in my hand, and I am not even very talented. I just loved it from the start and stuck with it.
You see, anybody can learn to play the guitar.
Be it, there are super talented guitarists, but unfortunately, I am not one of them.
If I was, you'd be watching me on MTV being harassed by hundreds of girls, not writing on my laptop 🙂
Ok, no more fantasizing, here is my guitar story...
The first time I held a guitar was late high school I believe. I could already play the trumpet well, since I've been learning it since the age of 8. I loved the trumpet as well, but the fact is that the trumpet is an instrument that you can't really play by yourself. You needed a band. But school was almost over, and there weren't too many bands looking for trumpet players.
This is sort of why I turned towards the guitar. Not entirely because I wanted to play in a band, but rather because I loved playing music, and wanted to keep on playing even after school band days were over.
So I bought a guitar and started learning. Now, remember, this was back in the last century, the Internet was not all that big, there were no DVDs yet, so my only choice was to buy guitar books, or get a personal teacher.
How I Taught Myself to Play Guitar
I started out with the first option, learning from a guitar book. And well, that didn't get me very far to say the least. I didn't understand chord diagrams and all the ramblings about the different techniques, so the book was a waste of money. I still have the book for some reason though, saw it the other day somewhere, but I don't know why I even kept it.
So after I realized that the book wasn't getting me anywhere, I somehow got hold of a guitar teaching software, the name I can't remember. That was better, since it had pictures and sounds as well (just MIDI back in those days). This was better than the book, and actually taught me the basic chords and fingerings, strumming, and very simple songs to start out with.
I finished the curriculum of the software fairly quickly and was again left with nothing to learn from. So I'm ashamed to admit it, but I stopped playing for about half a year altogether.
Then school ended, and I decided to pick it up again. And I haven't stopped since. I bought a set of VHS tapes (my first video guitar lessons I guess) which got me off on the right track and got me practicing more and more. The more I played, the more I loved it!
And that was the first time I realized that the guitar would stay with me for the rest of my life. I love the way the neck vibrated in my palm when I strummed a chord, I loved how my fingers started hurting after playing too much, and I loved the way people looked at me when I started playing.
I love everything about the guitar, and you will too! Remember that the more you play, the better you get, and the more you'll want to play.
I just had a conversation with a superb guitarist over the weekend, who's been playing for over 30 years. I asked him whether he remembers the beginning, and all he could say was the same. He's loved every moment of playing ever since the beginning (which is sort of weird, since I distinctly remember not enjoying it when I couldn't play anything yet 🙂 ).
So the moral of the story is that we all have different experiences with the guitar, but anybody could theoretically learn to play guitar. The thing that sets guitarists apart from regular people is that guitarists have the strength, patience, and perseverance to keep on going even if it seems hard at times. Remember that practice, makes perfect, and if I could learn to play, you can as well.