The Best Way To Learn Guitar?

A wee post to kick off the week for you today folks 🙂  My beloved Allan Bull guitar

I was asked recently by a fellow guitar blogger (it’s so great to be connected to such a fabulous world wide community of fellow guitar nuts!) what were my opinions on the best way to learn guitar. Well, I thought it might be good to share those thoughts with you guys too:

In my opinion, the best way to learn guitar, classical guitar or otherwise (and if you’re serious about it), is to approach it with a long term view. Approach with the understanding that the guitar is not something that can be mastered overnight and that one never truly arrives at a point where one says “this is it. I’ve learnt everything”. Learning guitar is very much about the journey and less so about a destination.

That’s the philosophical “best way” to learn guitar.

The more practical “best way” is really with a good quality teacher (that someone can recommend to you ideally) and taking weekly lessons. A good quality teacher will help you reach your guitar playing goals much quicker than you ever could on your own – there’s the stuff you know you don’t know or don’t know how to execute right? You can puzzle through that stuff eventually (although at a slower pace possibly than with a mentor to guide you). But what about the stuff that you don’t know that you don’t know?! This is where a teacher is worth their weight in gold to the student of the guitar.

You can find this, along the thoughts and opinions of  various other guitar teachers and guitarists, here:

What are your thoughts on the best way to learn guitar?


6 thoughts on “The Best Way To Learn Guitar?

  1. That is great advice! I’m definitely new to classical guitar, but it is already one of my favorite things in the world. Just playing my guitar relaxes me and makes me happy (even though my music doesn’t sound very good yet!) ❤

  2. Hi Nicole. In Malcolm Gladwell’s great book “Outliers” he calculates, based on the success of folks like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the Beatles and many others, that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of dedicated effort to get really “world class” good at a chosen endeavor/occupation. Using that as a guide, at three hours of quality practice per day it will take me approximately 10 years to become a decent classical guitarist, the operative word being “quality.” I’ve also recently heard a professional say that it takes about ten years to get really comfortable with the instrument, thus essentially corroborating my projection. So I definitely concur with taking the long view, and also with the need for proper instruction depending, of course, on one’s personal goals.
    If you haven’t heard of I highly recommend you check it out. It’s an online video exchange program for lots of different instruments, and Jason Vieaux teaches the classical guitar portion. There’s a basic, intermediate, and advanced curriculum along with a music theory curriculum as well, again, basic, intermediate and advanced. You send in a placement video, Jason determines where he thinks you fit in the curriculum and assigns studies, repertoire, etc. and you begin a back and forth video exchange. You have access to all the other students’ video exchanges as well, each of which is a lesson in and of themselves. Access to a world class player and teacher for $240 US per year! You’ve mentioned that you teach. I honestly believe this would be invaluable to you as a teacher, as Jason is as highly regarded as a teacher as he is a virtuoso performer. All the best and thanks for your work on the blog. We may be “nuts” but you’re the “bridge.” P.S. Check out Jason’s new CD “Play”

    1. Hello Mark,

      yes, I’m aware of the “10,000 hours rule” and it’s something I’ve spoken about on the blog previously. And, yes, those 10,000 hours or so definitely have to be quality practice!

      Have fun and good luck with it!


      PS – yes, I’m also aware of Jason Vieaux’s program. I believe I’ve also spoken about it on the blog previously too 😉

  3. I agree with both basic premises: take a long view (enjoy the journey) as well as find a quality teacher and dig in for the log haul. I take lessons at Rosewood Guitar in Seattle and my teacher is marvelously helpful. He might be filing my nails for me on minute, correcting my fingering on a difficult passage the next. His encyclopedic knowledge of the classical guitar means that he is always ready to impart new information that I definitely did NOT know that I didn’t know it.

    I don’t have enough physical strength/resiliency (due to health problems) to play more than 1 to 1-1/2 hours per day, but I try to make that time count and I spend lots more time doing things like: sight-reading while I listen to a recorded etude – singing the different parts, searching for and listening to pieces in the repertoire played by lots of other guitarists (how do ten different guitarists interpret Asturias?), learning about guitars (luthiers, bracing, woods, etc.), learning the history of the pieces I’m studying and the composers who wrote them. (What is Baroque music? How is it defined? Who are Baroque composers? What are the artistic sensibilities underpinning a Baroque lute piece? How does German Baroque vary from French Baroque? How is French Baroque different from a 19th century French composer’s piece? Etc.)

    The learning really is endless – which is one of the reasons why it’s so engrossing. One never arrives!

    1. Hi Jean,

      thanks very much for your comment and it’s great to hear that you’re enjoying your guitar playing and learning journey so much. Fantastic. Keep it up!


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