Free online guitar lessons from Vancouver teacher Blue Morris

Can I learn guitar without a teacher?

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Maybe, but it will probably take a lot longer and will likely involve a lot of frustration. Here are seven reasons I think you should hire a guitar teacher:

Repertoire

A good guitar teacher will know the best songs and exercises that will help you develop your skills and knowledge. He or she can direct you to songs that are appropriate for your skill level -- not too hard so you don't get frustrated, and not too easy so that there's a challenge and you're learning new things.

Feedback

A teacher can (kindly) point out when you're making mistakes. People who learn on their own often don't know when they're playing a song incorrectly. It happens quite often and you can find many videos on YouTube of people playing songs incorrectly without realizing it.

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Free chord charts and tabs online are often incorrect

I get a lot of requests from my guitar students to teach them particular songs that they love and I'm happy to oblige. A lot of my students download chord charts and tabs from the Internet themselves only to get frustrated because it's difficult for a beginner to learn new songs just from some chord symbols or tabs without rhythms -- especially if the transcription is wrong!

And boy there are a great many tabs and chord charts online that are wrong!

Keep in mind that when you Google "Jason Mraz tabs" you will get many results but probably none of them will be written by Mraz himself. Many of them could have been transcribed by people with very little experience in music and even less experience transcribing songs.

I've seen some tabs online that are preceded with words like "Please be kind this is the first tab chart I've ever created," which I find honest and kind. At least you will know to be cautious because the chart may have errors.

I have also read comments from many people on the Internet who think they can learn how to play guitar just by downloading tabs, chord charts, and "free lessons" from the net. Given the spotty quality of the materials on the Internet all I can say to them is: Good luck!

Read more: Free chord charts and tabs online are often incorrect

5 things new guitar students should know

Blue Morris photo by Greg McKinnon

I wrote this information out for my guitar students. If you're considering taking guitar lessons or if you have recently started learning guitar, here are five things I think you should know.

1. Practicing

How much you practice is up to you. I'm not going to berate you if you don't practice enough. I'm sure you know that you will get from this what you put into it. I'd rather you just tell me you didn't practice at all in the past week rather than try to fake it, or worse, cancel the lesson at the last minute. Even if you haven't practiced in the past week, there are still many things we can work on in a lesson.

In general, if you practice about 30 minutes each day, you will do very well. If you practice more than that, then I have no doubt you will become a very talented guitarist in a short time.

If you don't have that much time, don't panic. Just try to pick the guitar up as often as you can, even for just ten minutes at a time, and play through the work I've given you. For some people it's better to practice in many short spurts than it is to labour over something for hours.

Read more: 5 things new guitar students should know

Blank sheet music and guitar tab

It's surprisingly difficult to find good PDF templates of blank sheet music without running into some rather dodgy-looking sites, or ending up with some blank guitar tab sheets that are too narrow -- I can't print that small!

So I just made my own that will work for me and my guitar students. Feel free to download these and use them at will.