Classical guitar has always been that one instrument where you would go and take classes. Truthfully, there is a good reason for that as well. There is a lot to learn when it comes to classic guitars, which can be intimidating if you don’t have anyone to guide you through.
However, the question that often gets asked regarding this instrument is whether or not you can learn on your own. Can classical guitar be self-taught without a teacher? Or is it something where professional assistance is a must? Today we will try to answer that question and offer our take on this issue.
Can Classical Guitar be Self Taught Without a Teacher?
Understanding the Gravity of the Situation
Before we even attempt to give you a clear-cut answer, we need to properly understand what makes this situation so specific. Learning how to play classical guitar is different compared to learning how to play a standard acoustic or electric model. It has to with the guitar, but it also has to do with the music you are playing.
Classical music requires a very different approach to learning. You have to be meticulous, disciplined and be ready to practice with great intensity. But will that be enough? Are there any other hoops you need to jump through or things to pay attention to?
One of the most frequent mistakes new players make is them trying to handle a piece they are simply not ready for. That is not an issue regarding one’s will or talent. It is a pacing issue. If you really think about it, all of the information about classical guitars, theory, and technique, is readily available online.
These days you can find just about anything online and gain access to vast amounts of knowledge in a matter of seconds. How you approach that knowledge is a whole different ball game. This is where teachers and tutors really matter.
A Pacing Issue
Learning how to stay within the means of your capabilities is imperative. Knowing how to recognize what those capabilities are is extremely hard. The second pair of eyes is always welcome, especially when those eyes are experienced and capable of letting you know where and when you’ve made a mistake.
As you can probably tell by now, the whole idea of having a teacher by your side is to have someone to guide you through the material. In all honesty, trying to navigate standard guitar theory and techniques can be demanding. With classical guitar, everything is magnified and multiplied. However, does that mean that you simply can’t do all of this alone? Far from it.
What you need to understand is that you’ll be learning two different things at the same time. On one hand you will be learning all of the standard theory and technique related to classical guitar. On the other, you will be learning how to pace yourself, how to recognize where and when to stop, when to tackle more complex pieces of music and so forth. That can be quite intimidating, but not impossible.
Establishing the Skill Level
Another question that many shy away from asking, but which can be quite important from the aspect of recognizing when and where you need help, is how far do you intend to go? Is your goal to play casually for yourself or your closest circle of friends, or are you planning on engaging classical guitar as a full-time profession with the end goal of becoming a recognized soloist?
If the latter is the case, you need to be prepared to admit that you’ll need guidance at some point down the road. This decision has nothing to do with your resolve, but rather the fact that even the best of the best require tutoring at some point.
Just look at top level athletes, singers, and musicians. All of them have coaches who help them keep themselves at their optimal level.
Sure, one option is to start alone and push that way until you reach a stage where you simply need guidance.
So if learning solo is an option, why aren’t more people doing it? Why are there only a few successful musicians who bootstrapped their way into stardom? The answer is simple. There is an inherent risk with learning by yourself – developing flawed fundamentals.
This is a mistake that can cost you dearly down the road. Learnt habits are hard to unlearn. So much so that it’s harder to relearn something, retrain your body and program a whole new set of muscle memory responses than it is to just do it the right way from the start.
You will find that almost every, if not every single guitar player out there who is self-taught, regardless of their taste in music or guitars, has had or will have to relearn something.
Unfortunately, that is the cost of doing business if you go down this path. What makes things even more problematic is the fact that there are so many techniques to be learned with classical guitars. So much complex stuff that is easy to get wrong from the get-go.
The best solution is to find a compromise between the self-taught route and the full-on tutored learning. It is highly advisable to hire a teacher when you are just starting out. Work with them until you get the fundamentals right and learn how to pace yourself. At that point, you’ll be ready to keep going on your own for a while. Just keep in mind that there will be points on your journey to proficiency that will warrant you hiring a teacher.
It is up to you whether or not you’ll use their help at these critical moments. While we definitely advocate that you do, not everyone can for various reasons. Some players live in remote areas where tutoring is just not a viable option, others can’t afford classes and so on. The point still stands and that is that learning on your own is possible, but not the best route to take.