What to expect from guitar classes
Guitar classes are simple: Imagine a group of like-minded guitarists being taught just one topic at a time and you're in the ballpark.
If you are an outgoing person, you'll find that guitar classes are a lot of fun. You'll get to play and learn guitar, meet new people, and hopefully find someone to hang with outside of the class to play music. If you tend to be a little picky with who you hang out with, if your personal motto is quality over quantity, than you're less likely to find guitar classes to be enjoyable. All that said, what are guitar classes good for? Let's get into the details.
What are guitar classes good for, anyway?
If you are on a budget and don't have the dough for private guitar lessons, guitar classes are a worthy option to consider. The class fee is spread across however many people are taking the class. Safety in numbers. Spreading the financial obligation is a big boon for the budget conscious, and doubly so if you love hob-knobbing with new people.
Guitar classes also provide a great chance to meet other guitarists at a similar level as you. Most classes are separated by skill. There's an advanced class, a intermediate class, and most assuredly a beginner's class or two. Chances are excellent that you'll meet people who are at the same level. This is really good news; I'm all about encouraging you to have as many guitar buddies as possible.*
Surely there are things that guitar classes are not-so-good at, right? Absolutely. There are some downsides. Let's talk about those, too.
What are guitar classes terrible at?
Let's say you find yourself in a guitar class learning guitar. What happens if you run into a problem learning? Can you interrupt the class once to fix it? Certainly. Twice? Possibly. Three times? That might be pushing it. Four times? Whoa, you're gonna make the other people upset. Five times? It's time to drop out and pick an easier guitar class because you're annoying everyone.
If you have some extra issues that will require a more customized solution to your guitar problems, or if you would describe yourself as curious person who naturally likes to ask a lot of questions, guitar classes are not the answer for you. You will not enjoy them, and neither will anyone else around you because you'll require teacher's attention the most. I would recommend taking face-to-face lessons or Skype guitar lessons instead of classes.
The other difficulty is that the curriculum in guitar classes is static. Have trouble learning something? Too bad. You can't leave it alone; You have to keep up with the class. This can be horrifying if the guitar instructor does not present the class with challenges that are appropriate to the level. Not all guitar instructors care enough to make the material approachable, and some teachers put extra hard things in the lesson plans without knowing it.**
How to find an awesome guitar class
So, how do you find a guitar class that won't be a waste of your time? Here's how I would do it:
- Find the most methodically-described guitar class for your skill level. The more verbose the description, the better the class will be. Why? You'll know what you are getting into beforehand. Plus, the teacher who has put time into describing the class likely has also put time into organizing the curriculum to be appropriate for the skill level.
- Research the teacher beforehand. If the teacher seems like a jerk, do you really think you're going to get a good learning experience? Online reviews are a great way to find out about a teacher before committing with your wallet.
- Avoid any guitar class that doesn't publish testimonials from previous students. If the class hasn't helped anyone else, the teacher probably isn't all that good. Will it help you? Maybe, maybe not. If a teacher is unwilling to publish what some former students wrote about the class, the teacher might be hiding something bad.
*Daniel Coyle in his book The Talent Code describes why having friends in the same boat as you can help ignite your passion for learning. He talks about how a person can get "ignited" to learn because he or she is part of a pool of people who are all learning and tacitly competing with each other. If you had friends that were hell-bent on learning guitar, and you were in the fray just the same as them, chances are you'd feel far more motivated to learn and to keep on learning, too. I also think that the more guitar buddies you have, the less time it will take for you to get "good" at guitar.
**The most common example of an inappropriate challenge for a beginner is being told to learn a barre chord when basic chords haven't been fully mastered. If you are in a guitar class and the teacher decides to teach a barre chord before you learn open chords (like G, A, and D), run fast and get your refund even faster.