Guitar lesson 101 or less

By Trevor Robinson on July 25, 2014


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My 1st guitar came to me on my 11th birthday. I was so ecstatic and could hardly wait to learn to make that guitar sing. The tone was amazing, the strings perfectly tuned. I could envision myself strumming that beautiful instrument for throngs of captivated audiences. My head was spinning. I was in heaven. I learned how to tune it, learned what a fret was, the neck, the body, and how to make some basic tones sound as if I was a concert violinist, at least to my ears.

The next task of that day was to locate a guitar teacher, one who could draw out my talents with every chord. I was lucky enough to find a teacher who taught guitar out of her home less than a mile from where I lived. Prior to my 1st lesson, she advised me to soak my fingertips in alcohol to toughen them up. I accomplished that task with enthusiasm, and I could feel my chord fingers ripen ready to spew magical music.

My first class finally came into being three weeks later. I carried my beloved instrument to my new teacher’s home. She looked it up and down, strummed a few chords, and made me tingle all over with the possibilities.

I sat there with a chord book open to page 1. She sat next to me and said to strum a Gb chord. Huh??? What? What’s a Gb chord?  She pointed to the notes on the page which appeared like hieroglyphics to my untrained eye. Her left eyebrow raised in surprise. She took her guitar, placed her fingers on what she called a Gb chord, and strummed with the other hand. It sounded lovely. I mimicked her left hand placement on the neck of my guitar, and low and behold, I made the same sound. I smiled. She then suggested I play a C# chord and she pointed to the equivalent hieroglyphics on the page. I became mortified. Not again! I was saved by the bell. Her telephone rang, so she left me to my own devices. I cheated and scanned the back of the book for the finger placement. When she returned, I proudly produced a perfect C# chord, beaming with a smile wrapped round my face. Good she praised. I could feel the music being drawn from my soul, and I was giddy with enthusiasm. I was getting there, finally, and could envision myself sharing the stage with great musicians like John Denver.

That feeling came crashing down when she suggested I played a few chords in sequence, G minor, A, D. Paralysis set in as I stared at the page of music in stunned silence. Out the corner of my eye, I saw that nefarious eyebrow rise again. She strummed these chords and they were brilliant. I replicated her finger positions as best as I could. A few strings refused to cooperate and my attempt was received with a slight shaking of her head.

With her vast years of tuition, she opted to try something simpler. "Ok, let’s see if we can strum F, A, C, E", and she demonstrated. It seemed so easy watching her do it. I failed on the F chord.

After a grueling hour of sporadically failing to achieve even the basics of chords, I was uninvited to attend future classes until I discovered how to interpret hieroglyphics as musical notes.

I walked back to my mom’s car with my tail between my legs, dragging my beautiful guitar by the ear behind me. I announced I'd been fired from guitar lessons because I couldn't read music or complete the simplest of tasks.

I attempted learning a few chords on my own over the next few weeks. It was evident that I was sadly lacking musical ability, and ultimately sold the guitar to a friend for $5. That was the happiest day in my life. I removed that evil guitar from the torment, and so ended my musical career which lasted all of 3 months.

To all my musically talented brethren out there, ensure you pick the right teacher, the right instrument, and have defined the right expectations.


Joseph Lim, Downey

Joseph Lim Flag
about 3 years ago

I learned online. Now I understand that there will be some people that need that face-to-face type of learning, but I really do think that this site will work wonders according to how much time you spend on completely focused practice. I learned from this website: justinguitar.com. I did not have the money to pay for a teacher and as a matter of fact I just picked up my sister's guitar that she never used so I didn't really have money for a guitar either. I did my research and justinguitar.com is in my opinion the best free guitar lesson website there is. So if there are any of you that want to learn guitar or know someone that does and is currently paying for lessons, tell them to try this website. I feel like he is a good teacher.

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