How to be a Good Guitar Student

Usually when a person is inquiring about guitar lessons there is a lot of attention paid to the teacher. Finding the right teacher is obviously a really important element of learning guitar. 

A lesser discussed topic is the student. Learning guitar from a skilled instructor isn’t exactly like buying a box of pre-packaged cookies. 

If a person is really looking to learn the guitar effectively, lessons are a two way street. A student can study with one of the most skilled guitar instructors and still struggle. 

One might wonder how this is possible? If you have a great teacher, how could a guitarist still struggle? 

There are a few concepts that students need to understand about learning guitar. These concepts will apply to any type of learning. 


It becomes increasingly hard to teach guitar the more lessons are missed or spread apart. I find that spacing lessons apart no longer then two weeks to be the most effective. 

Not every student can afford weekly lessons. Although weekly lessons can increase progress, lessons spaced two weeks apart are not detrimental. 

Lessons three weeks apart or non consistent lessons can hinder growth. It’s not always about learning new concepts. Re-enforcing theory or technique from the previous lessons is also important. Along the road points will need to be clarified. It’s much easier to have a clear view when you’ve been a regular participant. 


Not everybody has 4 hours a day to practice. One doesn’t need to fret about shorter periods of practice. I will always choose quality over quantity. 

Regular practice is what is more important. Cramming one or two days a week is not an effective way of learning. 

Ideally, we want to get on a highway of learning rather then city driving where we have to stop every 50ft due to traffic. 

I wrote an article on practice methods that can help demystify practice routines. 

Understanding the process

It’s human nature to want to jump to the ending of the story. A lot of students want to collect $200 and pass go. But, in order to get to your destination you have to drive on some less then scenic highways. 

As a teacher I always want to use music that inspires the student to teach technique and theory. I always ask new students for a long list of their favorite songs or songs they want to learn. 

From here. I curate the songs we learn to match the concepts I’m teaching. I’m using the songs as a springboard for learning guitar. 

Students do need to have patience with this process though. There is no express bus. My job as a guitar teacher is to plan a trip. Think of me as your travel agent for guitar. 

Everything I curate for each lesson is traveling down the road to your destination. But, sometimes it’s a longer trip. I’m always trying to make it the shortest trip possible, but no matter what it still takes time. 

It’s crucial to learning guitar to play things that are either in you current capability or just above. Too far of a stretch can be overwhelming and frustrating. 

You may want to play the solo from Hotel California, but there are some key skills one mist acquire first. 

One teacher at a time

We have a lot of access to information these days. With one click we can often find a plethora of videos and articles on any given subject. 

While at times unlimited info is a good thing, it can also hinder progress when studying with a skilled guitar teacher. 

Information is rather inconsistent on the web. The span of quality and expertise spans from expert to amateur. As a student it’s incredibly hard to decipher between the two. 

One of the issues is with internet guitar instructors teaching music they’re not experts in. As an example, I’ve seen many blues guitar lessons taught by people that don’t speak the blues language fluently.

One example is the improper instruction of the minor pentatonic scale otherwise known as the blues box. This may seem like a small enough issue. However, it takes a long time to rewrite a bad habit. 

I’m not saying all the information online is bad. I’m saying it’s hard to sift through. This is the point to studying with an expert guitar teacher. 

You have a direct resource to a guitarist that understands the language of the style of music you’re studying. 

Also, the student needs to understand that even though some styles of music use the same scales of notes, they may not use the same position or fingerings. 

Too much contradicting information coming in from outside sources can confuse the student and slow the learning process down. 

I’m not saying to cut out all information. I’m saying you need to have layers of trust. Spend time finding the right teacher for you. When you find that teacher, respect them as being the expert and the top tier of your guitar information. 

If this trust isn’t established you may find yourself running in circles and not progressing. There are times when your guitar teacher will time release information. Meaning, you may not be ready for a specific technique or bit of theory. Your guitar teacher may be building you up to make your progress the most efficient. 

Keeping these topics in mind can help you progress when studying with a guitar teacher. Learning guitar is team work. 

Reach out of you have any questions about taking Skype lessons or guitar lessons in NYC. 

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Guitarist Mark Marshall located at 51 Macdougal St #264 , New York, NY . Reviewed by 11 customers rated: 4.9 / 5
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