Getting the MOST out of Lessons!

By Jen Uidl 

So, you’ve signed up for guitar lessons, now what? You have invested time and money, why not get the most it has to offer?! Here is a list of 5 ways to do this very thing!

1. Goal Setting . 

Before you even come into your first lesson, it is up to you to set a clear goal for yourself. Sky’s the limit here! What do you want to be able to do when you are done? There is an old movie called South Pacific that has a song that goes, “if you don’t have a dream, how are you going to make your dreams come true?”. I think about this when I start something new. 

This is why I start with goal setting, it’s so important!  Zack will then know how to proceed with lessons. Smaller steps are easier to take than large ones. Together with Zack, you can make smaller goals to make sure you are accomplishing your ultimate goal!  

As you learn, your goals will change and that is great! Challenges will come and it will feel like you have hit a plateau. Share these things with Zack! I can say there are plenty of times he has needed encouragement to get out of a plateau and can encourage you to do the same. If you are struggling with a certain concept, that is what he is here for! He is here to help you overcome your challenges and help you reach your goals!  

Let me just make a side note here. I want you to re-read that last sentence. Do you see how many times the word you is in there? 4… These are your goals, your skills. He is here to help, share knowledge and guide you. But it is up to you! Follow the steps and get the most out of your lessons! Sorry for my bluntness, but you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. 

2.  Listen to your instructor. 

This might be common sense… but it’s surprising how many people don’t follow this simple rule. It’s important to take the time to make sure the instructor/ student relationship is the right fit. In learning there will be correction, remember that. 

The biggest thing that I needed to listen to when Zack was teaching me, was I can do it and I was doing it! I needed to trust in the confidence he had in me. That is how I got through the first 6 months of my job as a new manager,  but that’s a story for another time. The point is to trust in the fact that he knows more, he has been teaching for 15 years and knows how to get you there. Ask as many questions as you can. Ask to have it explained in different ways. Use the resources that are provided! He is here for you! 

*********By the way I went over these 5 steps with him and he agrees with everything I’m saying.************

3. Create Habits  

They say (I’m not sure who, but I do not take credit for this statement), it takes 3 months to create a habit. In my personal life, when learning something new, it takes about 3 months for me to actually feel like I know what I’m doing. My background is in customer service management… just so you know where I am coming from here. 

Creating habits is something that takes time and takes intentionality. What is something that you can commit to each week? How can you tie learning this new skill into everyday life? We all have time for the things we want! 

 Goal setting and creating habits go hand in hand! So, because I have a corporate training background, I like to use the term SMART goals (again, not claiming any credit for this!!) It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. 

  • Specifically what do you want to learn this week/month? 
  • How will you be able to measure your progress? Some people like to record themselves or make videos. This is important to have so you can look back and see the progress you’ve made!
  • Is your goal attainable and relevant at the level you are at now? Making too hard of a goal  can be intimidating and can make you feel like you can’t do it. Make sure you are setting a goal that is attainable. If you are having trouble setting goals, ask Zack to help, he will be able to narrow down what you should work on. That’s why you hired him, right?! 

4. Practicing!!!! 

I’m going to start this off with a couple of things I heard while I was taking lessons. Knowing how to practice takes practice. You don’t have to perfect each thing before you move onto the next. It’s not bad, unless it sounds bad. With all of that said, practicing is the most important thing that you can do to get better. You can go to lessons, have the goal set, and all of that knowledge just waiting, but if you don’t put it into practice, it will literally do you no good.   

I suggest creating a schedule for yourself (with the help of Zack of course). It will help with knowing what to practice in the amount of time you choose. Maybe you want to work on your improv abilities. That would mean you would want to work on scales one day, putting limits on your playing to stretch your thinking the next day, then play over a backing track the next with what you have already practiced the past couple of days. The idea is to build on your knowledge over time, not to cram it in all at once. Let your mind dwell on something overnight and try again!  Something good is not easily earned. It takes time and commitment. 

We know that each person is different! That is why we would like to encourage you to check in with Zack each week and see how it’s going. Ask questions like; What should I work on this week? What should the schedule look like when practicing? How long should practicing sessions last?  Again, there is no “one size fits all” option here! Zack will take the time to understand how you learn and will also suggest how to help when it’s time to practice! 

 Now I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t plug our new Guided Practice Sessions! These are free for all students! If you are not a student and want to hone your practice skills  or play with other people, you can sign up on! 

5. Play with other people.

This may seem intimidating or down right scary! However, this a great way to excel at playing guitar! Learning from other people and learning to play different styles will help evolve you into a more well rounded musician. Hey, there is more than one way to play a G chord on the guitar, am I right?  

Of course there are other reasons to play with others, like knowing how to be a part of a band, it’s a team effort! There are different parts for each to play and they all come together to make one amazing song. 

 A story that Zack tells comes to mind. He was asked to play with a band and had to learn it quickly and by ear. However, when he showed up to play he had learned 3 of the guitar parts and was playing them all instead of just playing his part! One of the other guitar players told him to chill out and showed him the different parts. That is just a funny story and he tells it better. Learn the lesson here, chill out, have fun and learn!

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