A fair question many ask when first deciding to learn the guitar is how many guitar lessons you can be expected to take before you're deemed proficient. Naturally, this will vary from person to person, and it's worth considering that some people are simply more musical than others.
It's much more important, however, to ask yourself another question; how often should I have guitar lessons?
The first question is harder to answer of course, but if you consider both questions together, it becomes easier to come to a solution of some sort.
Frequency of Guitar Lessons and Practice
It makes sense that the more frequently you have your lessons (and of course, how often you practice), the fewer lessons you'll need in total to reach a level that you're happy with.
If you're concerned with the number of guitar lessons you'll need, perhaps due to budgeting or because there is a deadline you need to keep to, I would definitely recommend trying to have a minimum of one lesson per week of at least one hour in duration.
If you can manage two per week, this would be even better, but any more than that and you risk stemming your progress with fatigue and / or stress. Lessons can be intensive and a little nerve-wracking, particularly in the beginning, so rather focus on some quiet practice time if you feel you want to spend more time than just two hours a week on the guitar.
Less time between guitar lessons can be good but too little can also mean not enough practise time. You're less likely to practise after one lesson if you know there's another coming up in the next day or two. An important aspect of the learning process is finding the balance.
Rather than one full hour, it can also help to have two shorter sessions per week, so it's worth asking your potential teacher if they offer shorter lessons for a lower fee. Even though the duration is less, this will help because the time between your instruction will be shorter. In this way, the things you learn are more likely to stick.
Can I Teach Myself?
Of course you can. Some guitarists are completely self-taught but while this works for some people, it will not suit every temperament. To teach yourself requires an immense amount of self-discipline and practice and even then, most autodidactic guitarists have bad habits that can negatively affect their playing.
If you can't take guitar lessons with a teacher for some reason, there are many helpful articles and videos online to get the ball rolling in the meantime. At the very least, they will help you learn hand positioning, posture, and some basic chords so your fingers can get used to the strings.
So...How Many Guitar Lessons Should I Take?
As for the original question of how many lessons you'll need; this is a question best posed to your teacher after you've had a few lessons. They'll need to know your original proficiency if any, your natural talent, and how much time you'll spend practising on your own.
Once you've had a few one on one sessions, he or she will not only be able to gauge roughly how many guitar lessons you'll need but also what sort of schedule will work best for you.
Suffice to say, there is no solid answer to the question. No teacher will be able to give you an exact figure. But even so, as you work closely with your teacher, they can let you know how you're progressing with some honest feedback, which can help you estimate the total figure based on how many guitar lessons you've already had with them.
There's No Finish Line
Ultimately, your lessons should be fun and enjoyable so try not fixate too much on the end goal. Many musicians would argue that there is no proverbial finish line because playing an instrument requires constant practice, no matter whether you are a beginner or fully proficient.
Even professional musicians will still take lessons from more experienced teachers including those who themselves are music teachers.
If you commit yourself to your guitar lessons and do you best, this will help you achieve your goals more swiftly, but it's important not to forget to have fun along the way.
Playing the guitar is all about enjoyment and feeling music brings, so if you find you're in a rush to learn, take as much time as possible to practise as frequently as you can to become comfortable with your instrument. Being comfortable will help make your playing more relaxed and will, in turn, make the music sound better.
About the Author: Helen Baker
I am a freelance teacher and writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I spent some time teaching English in Paris and, thereafter, returned to Ann Arbor where I was involved both in the media and academics. Currently I am a stay at home mom, working as a freelance writer and teacher. I love all my guitars and I also have an affinity towards old grand pianos. I love singing, traveling, reading, writing, watching films and spending quality time with my husband.