So you’ve been listening to jazz, rock, classical, acoustic–or whatever else your ears enjoy–for several years now. And suddenly, it’s not enough. You want more from your music. Yes, you’ve caught the “I-wanna-play-too” fever and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding. The only problem? You have NO IDEA how to play. You rented a saxophone once, pressed your fingers to the buttons, and blew–several squeaks later realizing that just having an instrument isn’t quite enough. You had to face the truth. You need lessons. But where do you get them?
At a School
Many high schools and colleges offer lessons, even to “outsiders.” If you’re not enrolled at a school, check your local community college for community offered programs. Some teachers tutor outside of class, so even if you don’t find a good program, there’s a small chance you’ll score a pro tutor.
–Relative affordability: This depends on the school. But in general, community lessons are cheaper than hiring a private tutor.
–Group Lessons: Typically, classes are taught in a group. This is a great way to connect with other musicians as well as learn from your peers. And who knows–maybe you’ll form that 4-person band you always dreamt about.
–Scheduling conflicts: Classes are at a set time, usually during the day. If you work weekdays, you might be out of luck.
–Group Lessons: While group lessons can be great, you might not have much one-on-one instruction.
–One-on-One attention: With a private tutor, you have someone dedicated solely to your success. If you have a problem, your tutor should be there to help (if it’s a music problem, that is. Don’t go calling your tutor at 2 a.m. to discuss your recent break-up).
–Flexibility: Unlike music classes, tutors are pretty good about scheduling around your schedule. Some tutors will even drive to your house for the lesson, though this varies. Many will want you to drive to their house instead.
–May be difficult to find a good tutor: Finding a good tutor may be difficult, depending on your location. Whatever you do, make sure you take your time to find someone with skill with whom you also get along. Don’t be afraid to turn tutors down if you find they aren’t right for you.
–No group interaction: One-on-one, while great in many ways, also means you miss out on interaction with other musicians.
–Possibly expensive: This depends on the tutor, of course. At the very least, when you’re searching, make sure to ask about prices.
Try TutorNation, entering “Music” into the subject area, to find a tutor near you.
Friends, Family, and Anyone Else Willing to Help
–They’re cheap: If you have really, really nice friends, maybe even free. However, so that no one feels taken advantage of, the best thing to do is to either pay for their services, or to exchange. If you have a talent–say you know a foreign language–you can “exchange” your knowledge for their musical knowledge. Win-win situation!
–It’s fun: You feel comfortable with your friends, so you might have more fun. Plus, you won’t feel silly messing up, or asking dumb “beginner questions.”
–Relationship problems: If you’re having problems with your friend, it might affect your tutoring. So no backstabbing, gossiping, etc. (though you shouldn’t be doing that anyway!)
–Good friend, Crappy teacher: Being a good friend and a guitarist DOESN’T automatically make someone a good teacher. Good musicians aren’t always good teachers.
–You’re CHEAP: At the most, you’ll buy a book or two to help you learn. At the least, you’ll use the internet. Either way, you’re one cheap teacher.
–You’re Lazy!: Without someone forcing you to play, it’s likely you’ll fall into TV watching mode, unless you’re super super disciplined. (Some people are; you know yourself best).
–You, umm, don’t know how to play: While some books are helpful, nothing is as helpful as another person tutoring you. Teaching yourself to play isn’t impossible (some great musicians have done it!) but it is harder.