Shoring up with lessons later in life?

KW1977

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Has anyone of the self taught variety taken lessons to shore up the gaps in their skillset later in life? I’m almost entirely self taught. I mean some friends showed me a few tricks when I was young but no formal lessons to speak of. I was blessed with a pretty decent ear & tenacious fingers which together carried me quite a ways. I started at 16 or so, now knocking on 45,…and I’m reeeeeeally regretting not taking lessons or learning my propers early on.

I feel way too feral and uneducated, like everything I’m searching for on the fretboard would be much easier to grasp and had I gone the Mel Bay/schoolmarm route early on, and maybe I’d be closer to my playing desires. Eg; I was a rock guy for a long time, started with the cowboy and power chords in the 90’s, but I thought lessons would taint my creativity and make me a banal player. So I never learned scales, theory, et al. Never truly learned from the masters. Really took the hard, craggy route and now I’m lamenting my weaknesses in soloing, songwriting & structure, et al.

Nowadays I’m far more wowed by “traditional” players. For instance I just saw Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives last weekend and I’m still just utterly floored by it. Chet Atkins Jitterbug Waltz blows me away now more than any rock riffage. Brian Setzer is a massive fave. Anyone else find themselves in this position? Was it hard to teach an old dog new tricks or turn your playing around?
 
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Flat6Driver

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Has anyone of the self taught variety taken lessons to shore up the gaps in their skillset later in life? I’m almost entirely self taught. I mean some friends showed me a few tricks when I was young but no formal lessons to speak of. I was blessed with a pretty decent ear & tenacious fingers which together carried me quite a ways. I started at 16 or so, now knocking on 45,…and I’m reeeeeeally regretting not taking lessons or learning my propers early on. I feel way too feral and uneducated, like everything I’m searching for on the fretboard would be much easier to grasp and had I gone the Mel Bay/schoolmarm route early on, and maybe I’d be closer to my playing desires. Eg; I was a rock guy for a long time, started with the open and power chords in the 90’s, but I thought lessons would taint my creativity and make me a banal player. So I never learned scales, theory, et al. Never truly learned from the masters. Really took the hard, craggy route. Nowadays I’m far more wowed by very traditional players. For instance I just saw Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives last weekend and I’m still just utterly floored by it. Chet Atkins Jitterbug Waltz floors me far more now than any heavy rock riffage. Anyone else find themselves in this position? Was it hard to teach an old dog new tricks or turn your playing around?


Start here. You can find all this online, but an instructor allows you to discuss it and immediately put into context. Find an instructor that will meet you where you are versus force you through their formula for $45/hr.
 

Peegoo

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I did. I played in bands for years having never taken a single guitar lesson.

Well into my 40s I took lessons for a few months, and it was a huge help. Made me a better player. The thing I didn't expect was the amount of work it took for the stuff to actually sink in.

If you're serious about lessons, know that the lessons don't begin and end with the teacher in the same room. It takes some real commitment on your part to apply the stuff the instructor imparts on you. Take a notebook and take lots of notes. If you can, record your lessons too. And do the actual work necessary to incorporate the information into your playing. It's not easy, but it will pay off!
 

Mjark

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Yes, you’re still relatively young there will be less to undo! I recommend an in person teacher if you can find a good one. Probably not of the music store variety.
 

SRHmusic

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Yes, I'm also mostly self taught, but I found it useful to have lessons every so often. It's good to know generally what next level you'd like to get to, and find a teacher doing that kind of music well.

My own experience was on and off in bands and duo or solo things for fun, until getting much more serious in the last ten years. As far as formal lessons, I've taken some about every 10 years for just 6 months to a year at a time, in different genres, too. (rock, classical, jazz, blues/rock)

Except for the last instructor, an active player in NY that I sought out, most were too light on theory and the connections between guitar structure, music theory and how songs and music actually "work." I didn't really make progress on soloing or feeling confident with the whole fretboard for long time. The lights started coming on for me after paying better attention to some practical theory while working on new (and old) songs and solos. A lot of teachers gloss over this stuff that's so important to blues/rock and other popular music, I think.

edit - If you want to work on your own, a basic theory book for any instrument (like piano) is good, or the Aaron Shearer theory book for classical guitar is good.

Also, this collection from Arnie Berle's Guitar Player articles is good though gets deep quickly:
 

BryMelvin

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completely self taught on guitar but was classically trained on keyboards and woddwinds starting with a 12 Bass accordion at 5years old.

I STILL would rather see chords and riffs displayed as notes on staffs. I don't like tab. After military retirement went for an additional degree and took music as electives finally learned to score well.
 

hnryclay

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I take lessons, occasionally I am 42. Learned to play the piano starting at age 5, guitar at age 12. Nothing wrong with improving your mind, and your technique. Love to work with a good teacher, make sure you let them know what you expect to learn, and come to an agreement on what is realistic. Not all teachers and students are a "match", and as an adult you should be able to find someone who is a fit.
 

DekeDog

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Amazing how many people think learning scales will stifle their creativity. The thing is, you might spend years learning and practicing scales, and at first, you can fall into that groove. But what it teaches you is interval's, and learning to hear and play intervals intuitively is the goal. Learn it (never too old), practice the hell out of it, then forget it.
 

black_doug

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I also started learning guitar at 16 years old. Like you, self taught.

And then, also in my late 40s, I began taking lessons. I would never have picked up a bottleneck if I hadn’t. Too intimidated. Now it’s one of my favourite things to do. The teacher the school put me with turned out to be one of the best in Toronto.
 

buster poser

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One man's opinion, but you should take lessons. You sure don't have to go to someone every week or for months; just learn what you need to, then go off and woodshed for a while, lather rinse repeat. I did when I came back to guitar in 2017, and again in 2019 when I started learning jazz as a vector into western swing. I'm in another "what now" phase and am looking for an instructor again at the moment, as it happens.

Someone to check your assumptions, to clarify your "unknown unknowns," and lay them out in a learnable/building-blocks fashion is just invaluable; there's almost no way you can uncover all that on your own, certainly not in any reasonable time frame.

And that goes double if Marty, Chet, Brian, and those kinds of players impress you (they surely impress me); those dudes are pro musicians and I doubt there's a decent country player alive that is "self taught." As a young player, I was 100% by ear and didn't even know what a major 7 chord was until three years ago. Now learning a new standard is pretty simple and I feel like I can pick up and enjoy the thing to a much greater degree.
 

RadioFM74

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I did. I played in bands for years having never taken a single guitar lesson.

Well into my 40s I took lessons for a few months, and it was a huge help. Made me a better player. The thing I didn't expect was the amount of work it took for the stuff to actually sink in.

If you're serious about lessons, know that the lessons don't begin and end with the teacher in the same room. It takes some real commitment on your part to apply the stuff the instructor imparts on you. Take a notebook and take lots of notes. If you can, record your lessons too. And do the actual work necessary to incorporate the information into your playing. It's not easy, but it will pay off!

I second everything Pegoo says.

The thing that an instructor gives you that YT and other online platforms can't give you: FEEDBACK on what you're doing. And yes – record yourself, if something is really off you'll notice.
 

NeverTooLate

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I started from 0 this year using Justin Guitar. It is free. I pay a little for tabs and theory separately. There is also an app that is under 100/year.

His courses are extremely well structured. You could just go through them and fill gaps as you go while skipping what you have mastered over time.

His theory modules are like 7-8. I am in 4 and it is pretty basic so far.

I will also buy Steve Vai's book. I think it is meant to be practical; he now even composes for classical orchestra but I think the book is for normal folks, not virtuoso players or composers :) Haven't seen the contents though.
 




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