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Starting from the beginning...

Well, this is post #2 of the year and I thought that going back in time would be appropriate. I don't literally mean that I have a time machine, but I do have lots of good memories from when I first started doing music. It seemed relevant to look back at that time and offer up a couple of tips for the reader.

Guitar Student

When I was very young, I got signed-up for group guitar lessons. This was exciting and challenging at the same time.

I remember racing home and wanting to practice because I had learned some new songs! I'm sure my playing wasn't very good at the time, but I stuck with it and then got to take private lessons as a young teenager.

If you're young and you want to learn how to play an instrument, I can't begin to tell you how important it is for your parents to find someone competent to help you learn. You must also like your teacher! If you don't, see if you can find one you think will better suit you. Good teachers are hard to find, but bad ones are everywhere.

Let me be fair about this too. I've taught many students, adults and kids, and there are some who are very serious about practicing. Many of them though are not serious. So in all fairness, there are some students who really need to be moved on by a teacher. Better to move them on than to waste time and money.

One other comment I'd like to interject here: There are numerous online teaching methods and tutorials. I'm sure some of them are no doubt very good! However, nothing can replace the face-to-face time a teacher and student have. It's so good to hear someone give feedback in the same room about your playing. I still hear compliments (and criticisms) of my playing in my head every now and then.

My final tip is about your personal ability to deal with criticism. If you are thin-skinned then taking lessons with someone will probably not be advantageous right away. Maybe you want to do some practicing on your own and get some confidence before trying lessons. That's totally cool! Why spend money if you'll be frustrated?

For the others who are fine with some level of criticism, (and by the way, I mean constructive criticism in all of this writing,) listen to what your teachers have to say but don't let that sway you from your mission: Becoming a better player!

I do have a picture here of guitarists, but these tips apply to any kind of instrument.

I've heard students at music school practicing for hours. There were: trombonists, trumpeters, pianists, vocalists, cellists, etc. You get the point.

But they never let constructive criticism stop them from attaining their objective: Playing!

Now get out there, and perform!

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