It’s always interesting and inspiring to read about other peoples journeys, especially in a pursuit you may be interested in yourself… in this case learning to play guitar.
Gareth is an adult learner with a very demanding and often unruly profession. He has a great love of music as a wind down and always puts time aside to play his guitar. This really comes across in our guitar lessons and makes him very easy to work and chat music with! In the time we have been having lessons together we have covered a lot of finger-picking songs such as Breathe by Pearl Jam, Who Says by John Meyer, a few Steve Earle songs… the list goes on! The current development is to build some Music Theory knowledge by working through some of the RGT Grade books.
Here’s what Gareth has to say about his journey and his guitar lessons…
1) How long have you been playing the guitar?
I originally started playing the guitar at senior school learning to play the electric guitar. I passed my GCSE Music but unfortunately gave up. Fast forward 22 years and I decided to start learning again. I have been learning to play again for just over one year.
2) Why did you begin guitar lessons?
I began learning guitar as I have always enjoyed listening to music at home and love live music. I listen to many different genres and when I was younger I grew up listening to music my older brother liked which was predominantly rock and metal. I originally started to learn rock songs etc. More recently (as I have grown up) I enjoy a variety of music however recently enjoy music based around acoustic guitar. I would always look in the window of my local guitar shop at the acoustic guitars and one day decided I wanted to learn again. I am learning for personal enjoyment and as a hobby, I find practicing and playing a way to relax. It would be nice to reach a level whereby one day I could play fluently with confidence and possibly to play for friends or with other musicians however I am aware I’m still very much a beginner.
3) What do you enjoy most about lessons and playing the guitar?
I currently have one lesson weekly. I enjoy my lesson as Jo helps to tailor the lesson to suit my needs and current playing ability. In the time spent with Jo she has worked out some of my favourite songs / pieces. With practice I have managed to play some songs I would have struggled with or not even known where to start with this time last year. I particularly enjoy and started to listen to pieces using finger picking techniques, although I have only learnt basic techniques I find when playing on your own and practicing it can be rewarding as I think it produces a much more interesting sound. (When I get it right that is!) Jo is a very patient teacher and has always made lessons interesting, helping to break songs down so it’s manageable to learn and not overwhelming. I even enjoy lessons to have a chat with Jo about different types of music / artists. More recently I have decided to learn some basic theory and currently working towards Grade 1 Acoustic RGT. Again Jo is very supportive and knowledgeable and has helped to explain some basic theory aspects which I have found interesting and will hopefully help develop my overall playing and knowledge.
4) What do you find most challenging about the lessons and playing guitar?
I think learning any new skill can be challenging, it can be frustrating to know the sound you need to produce however learning the technique to accomplish it can be difficult. I struggle with-new chords and techniques that are unfamiliar.
5) Do you have any advice for people who may be thinking about having lessons and playing guitar?
As an adult beginner it can be hard to find the time to put in some serious practice with day to day life commitments, but don’t let it put you off beginning. Don’t go into it with the expectation it is easy, but at the same time it can be very rewarding even learning some basic chords and playing along to simple songs. Everybody has different learning styles / musical tastes and skill level, but personally have a think about what you are realistically looking to achieve from learning and tailor your lessons to this. Set small goals, don’t be disheartened when you listen to some of your favourite artists and instantly want to replicate the sound / song. It may sound obvious but try not to pick songs that are too advanced, I have done this but I hope to return to them in the future. You will get frustrated, I do at times, but don’t be at war with it or you won’t enjoy it. Keep your guitar out if you can, and even if you can’t find set time to practice, even just picking it up for 5-10 minutes and playing keeps you familiar with it. There is no need to buy expensive instruments to learn, pick up a decent lower end to mid-range guitar to start. Always consider a second hand guitar from a reputable shop. If it isn’t for you then you haven’t lost out a great deal on expensive instruments. I would definitely recommend Jo as a tutor if you are considering lessons as an adult or for children. Jo has always been flexible when I have had to rearrange a lesson and just one half hour lesson weekly can really help you to improve. Above all have fun with it, practice and play when time allows, stop thinking about and go do it!