Traditional Versus YouTube Guitar Lessons

By Andrew Catania

Playing an instrument was something sacred in the old days. Those who desired to learn an instrument would tie themselves to the lessons of their teachers. Every day was a new experience for them. From touching the guitar to feeling its essence and regarding its value, the experience was full of inspiration and meaning. Today, with the introduction of YouTube, playing guitar has become something “cool” rather than something that was like worshipping for the old schoolmasters.

More and more musicians are turning their faces towards YouTube for music lessons online. But the real question is, is it as effective?

In the year 2012, it was researched that the top searches on YouTube were related to the keyword “lessons,” and the majority of the lessons related videos that were searched were guitar tutorials. Not only do people view these guitar lessons, but also save and download them.

Why?

The reason is simple: it is free and convenient. You are free with a guitar in hand, you open YouTube and start learning. You don’t understand something, you rewind and replay. You can practice your lessons at 6 am in the morning or 4 am at night. These guitar lessons are for everyone everywhere in the world.

But the question again is, how many times a virtual teacher would tell you that you are holding the strings wrong? Or the way you are learning is not even a shortcut, but ab absolute ditch? Learning guitar online, in my opinion, is like learning how to paint online. Watching someone hold a paintbrush online would not make your hand move like that. Regardless of you how much you try, you just can’t add the color to your canvas like that.

Traditional times for playing guitar:

In the traditional ways of learning guitar, a tutor would come to you, or you would go to the instructor. These sessions involve a lot of other materials like chord diagrams, sheet music and backing tracks that work between sessions. The one-to-one experience has always been the best way to test your ability. While you learn to play the instrument, the teacher observes, criticize, and highlights the weakness and strength, points out the wrong and right gestures and so on. An experienced professional help you practice a million times, the same action till you become a pro at it. Such learning is realistic and goal oriented. Playing guitar with a professor means to know the instrument, not the use of it for playing a single song again and again.

Your mistakes would be addressed and immediately rectified. It is of particular importance when it comes to holding the guitar. Imagine after a year of YouTube learning; somebody tells you that you are holding the guitar wrong? Furthermore, everyone has a particular style of playing. The unique nature of a person is long known to come out through musical instruments. When you learn with a tutor, you can explore the areas of your interest in music. For example, you can keep your focus on learning blues or jazz. Now it is not a song that makes jazz a style, but the technique of the instrument.

Benefits and disadvantages of learning Guitar from YouTube:

Just like the two faces of a coin, there are advantages and disadvantages of learning to play guitar online.

Benefits:

As already state, YouTube gives you access to free guitar lessons. It has cheapened the use and learning of the instrument. The only cost you pay is that of the internet. You have access to millions of videos of a different genre. You can always define for yourself the type of resource and music style you want to opt for. You can save, bookmark and download the music. You can also use the interactive software that would help you master in the fretboard. In short- everything has become simpler and cheaper.

Disadvantages:

To say it out loud, playing guitar online gives you no structure and path. Whatever you try is judged by you alone. By randomly clicking and moving from one song to the other, you learn to quickly- which is never the case when playing an instrument. As someone great once as “nothing worth it comes easy.” The lessons on YouTube are present in a logical and coherent progression, but they do not address your issues. The one who is playing online is an expert; but who would tell you if you have the ability and skill to become one?

I can practice and make a beat from knocking the table with folk, but would that make me a drummer or a music director? No. Many times, criticism is what pushes you across the path of “average” to professional. What you are looking for a YouTube video is leisure time learning. But if the music is your goal and guitar your passion than YouTube probably is not the way.

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