Any one get "lessons" blues...?

Sigmund Floyd

Silver Supporting Member
I've been taking lessons pretty steady for about 6 years, with this latest teacher approaching 1 1/2, 2 years. It's definitely working, getting slowly better. We do some basic sight reading, mainly to work on basic techniques, learn parts of songs, scales, etc.

It's 1/2 hour to get there, 1/2 hour back and 50 bucks for an hour. I've felt pressure lately, almost dread toward the weekly lesson. Never quite prepared enough, I feel myself fading. I like playing but the time and cost and pressure is interfering. I never have really wanted to learn how to read music, too hard! But he claims that's ok, still lessons to learn from it, no doubt. I have fear that if I stop I'll fade out on playing guitar or regress or whatever. The lessons do keep me in it, whatever "it" is.

I've also started a group class where we strum songs and I enjoy that more, lol. I might go play and jam with some folks this Sat. I've done that a few times but never anything steady. I have fear around that because I just don't have memorized songs list in my head. I do have a knack for soloing in a free form style (my teacher has said this) and play rhythm ok. I think he makes a valid point that tons of guitarists can play a nice lead, but not so many KNOW the songs and parts, the guitar technology as he calls it.

Sometimes I feel like worse after a lesson but usually better. I've wondered if my teacher is just too damn good, it's left me feeling quite small at times. I'm approaching 50 and have made great progress in 6 or 7 years, with a family. Although as a struggling fine artist, I think lately the having to practice guitar and get to the lesson, thinking so much about guitar etc has gotten in my way of other things that need to be done.

Sorry for the venting and rambling but I'm open to hearing if anyone can relate to this, what you might suggest. A part of me thinks that the sacrifice in time and money, if I push through- will pay off. What I learn with the lessons will get me to a deeper musical place. But I feel like I'm at a wall.


Start going to blues jams in your area instead. You can meet some dudes to play with and cop chops from. Just as good as lessons, but less formal and stiff.
sounds like you're paying for someone to crack the whip more than knowledge? If you're doing "basics" you can pick that stuff up on youtube. $50hr is damn high unless it's an advanced lesson like jazz or classical. Around here it's $20-30. For $50hr there better be a happy ending and my guitar set up! ;)


Gold Supporting Member
There are so many great courses on the internet like True Fire and Lick Library,,etc..
You can really do things at your own pace. I still advocate for a great teacher in person when you need to break that plateau. Sometimes a student and a teacher a are a mismatch in communication style,



You wrote:

A part of me thinks that the sacrifice in time and money, if I push through- will pay off. What I learn with the lessons will get me to a deeper musical place.
But you previously said:

We do some basic sight reading, mainly to work on basic techniques, learn parts of songs, scales, etc.
It doesn't sound like what you are doing with this teacher ("basic techniques") is going to help you achieve your goal of reaching a deeper musical place.

It does sounds like you are using this teacher more as a vehicle for keeping your feet to the fire than advancing any great musical knowledge--let's face it, learning song parts/scales is mostly just a matter of sitting with the tab/sheet music and woodshedding it.

So, rather than underutilizing an expensive teacher who is a commute for you, would it be possible for you to find a cheaper, local teacher to crack the whip?

FWIW, I am a middle aged widowed father of an 8 year old. I've been taking lessons diligently for about 3 1/2 years. I've had two teachers and I told them both the same thing:

"I'm doing this for fun. The day it becomes 'work' is the day I hang it up."
A one hour lesson every week is a lot of material for an adult student to process and have a family and work a job. No wonder you feel under pressure.

Have you thought about doing lessons every other week?

boo radley

I can appreciate the paradox, and have had a similar experience. I'm about the same age.

The last time I took lessons, formally, I wasn't able to keep up and thought, "well, I'm paying $60/45 min, but until I learn the fretboard cold, notes in various major and minor scales, etc., this is pointless." And it was -- the theoretical aspect is like math; you build on a foundation.

The problem was(is), I never went back on my own and learned the foundation although resources, and free ones, abound. This is my challenge if I return to lessons.

IMO, ultimately, the goal is to have playing the guitar be a rewarding experience in your life. If progressing in ability contributes to the reward, then it's time to get analytical, and be more proactive in addressing areas that you want to explore, instead of being a passive student.

And playing with others is a great way to identify which areas you need, uh, "want" to explore. :)


It depends on the kind of person you are. If you need someone to hold you accountable to keep you playing then it is money/time well spent. Learning online requires a discipline/organizational skills that some people simply don't have. Before you cast yourself off into the wind you need to understand what you need to keep you moving.

Lessons are a malleable thing and no right approach is the right approach every day. Life changes and so do we. We are not always inspired... but we may be tomorrow. Some of the best lessons I ever gave a student were less to do with the guitar and more chats about direction and mindset.

Perhaps this is a soon to pass phase you are in. If you are making good progress it might be a shame to throw out the process that got you there too early... But it also may be time for a change up - really only you can know.


I really like lessons. I would try a few locals and see if they click with you. Unless youre really happy with this teacher it may be time to get another perspective.

I went up to the best guitarist Id ever seen and asked for lessons. He was awesome and gave me tips and perspective for life.

Dont settle.


Gold Supporting Member
I'm self-taught and do get sick of the man in the mirror sometimes. He can be a taskmaster!


Senior Member
sounds like you're paying for someone to crack the whip more than knowledge? If you're doing "basics" you can pick that stuff up on youtube. $50hr is damn high unless it's an advanced lesson like jazz or classical. Around here it's $20-30. For $50hr there better be a happy ending and my guitar set up! ;)
$50 an hour is very common around here and has been for about 20 years.I don't know any teacher who only charges $20 an hour.The place where I teach charges $60 an hour.


As an adult taking lessons from a very advanced guy, I was getting too much info, in too short of a time and not having enough time In between lessons to process it all. But, we were working on more advanced chordal and theoretical work. I ended up not taking any formal lessons for a few years so I could process it all. Then, I started taking sporadic lessons when I had time. It turned into a two hour lesson every few months.

In the meantime, however, I've been playing with several bands, and I attend weekly open Mics and jams. I play a lot on my own every week and am in the process of adding about twenty or thirty new songs to the new band's setlist. I am a rather self-motivating guy.... At least when it comes to something I want, like guitar. Mowing the lawn? Different story all together! [emoji1]

But, if it is work, like it sounds.... I'd say find a different path. Make sure it stays fun, or what's the point? Unless you're looking to change professions? I mean, if you're trying to become a session musician, sight reading is then very important, better get back to work! LOL

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I'm not sure why you need to focus on sight reading very much especially if you don't really plan on using outside of lessons. Sounds like you are putting 2hrs worth of time into this every week and aren't enjoying it much and aren't gaining all that much either.

As mentioned, sounds like you'd be better off finding others to play with. Also, I think it definitely helps to figure out the genre you are most interested in and spend your time and money on resources that will help you in those styles of music.

Yer Blues

Start going to blues jams in your area instead. You can meet some dudes to play with and cop chops from. Just as good as lessons, but less formal and stiff.
That's a good suggestion.. or maybe join a band. Your teacher might know some jams in the area.

When I was younger I took lessons, but eventually my Mom stopped paying so I had to pay. I would go once every two weeks for an hour. Part of the reason was financial, but I every two weeks was fine for me.... by that point I was playing all the time anyways.


I often feel the exact same way about lessons. When I'm in them, and my instructor breaks me down and points out flaws I never even notice, it can be slightly discouraging. Often it is a WAY too much information to take in and I don't always get to work on "homework" in the week. Sometimes I leave feeling like I'm not nearly as far along as I thought I was, and sometimes I leave with a foggy head not being able to focus on what I just learned. I think of it like the doctor's office sometimes. I have nothing to prove, nothing to be embarrassed about, and am just there to put myself in someone else's hands to get better (with my cooperation).


There are also times when I leave feeling blown away by realizations and new techniques. In general education, I have often heard these moments referred to as "ah ha" moments. They feel amazing. There is no better feeling than making a breakthrough. Rebuilding from being broken down is what makes people progress properly. I have taken lessons for most of the time I have been playing, as well as done online lessons and books. There is nothing even slightly comparable to an in-person quality instructor. They see things lessons on the internet and yourself never see. They notice when you aren't understanding and quickly switch their delivery of education so you will understand. The internet can't do that. There are a lot of musicians that never take lessons, drop out of lessons, or think they don't need them. The truth is, they don't. Nobody actually needs them. But those are often the same musicians that never get solid timing, never progress outside of their naturally formed technique, and break plateaus at a much slower pace. Being successful at anything is not always easy, takes a lot of dedication, and requires one to get back up from being knocked down.

I can say without a doubt I would not be nearly as far along as I am had I not been taking lessons. To me, it really comes down to what you can afford. If you can afford it, and have the time, stick with it. It makes a difference, but only if you are willing to let it. You have to be open-minded and willing to listen.

Just my 2 cents, and of course, based on a quality instructor.

Also, as my instructors have all said (and I agree 100%), there are things you learn from playing with other people and being in a band you will never learn from an instructor. I attend open jams and have been in a couple bands now. Both help you improve dramatically in a completely different fashion, AND they're fun (usually).

Yer Blues

That's a good point about pointing out flaws. I remember one time my teacher said something like "ok... so you go do some gigs, play with your friends, and then come here and get a reality check". I can't remember what exactly it was about, but I think it had to do with my (lack) of rhythm chops.


I was in a rut too after the band I was playing in imploded - the incentive to practice took a sharp downturn with no gigs coming up...

What I did was to make a list of - for me- 5 fairly difficult songs I want to be able to play at performance level with an audience, either with a band or backing tracks.

I'm gonna work at it until I have it nailed - recording myself shows me there's a long way to go still, but the important thing is that I have a tangible goal.

Another thing was to pick one new theoretical concept ( for me it's using the diminished scale navigating a simple I-IV-V blues).Once I really have it down, I'll move on to the next thing, which will be pedal steel bends. And so on...

I guess what I'm getting at is stressing the importance of setting realistic musical goals where the journey and the destination make for an enjoyable experience. For me - but that's just me - reading studies for instance would be WAY down on my list of priorities. The impression I also got from your post was that there seems to be a little bit of this and a little bit of that in the way your lessons are structured - maybe just pick ONE favorite song and play it until it's right- technique will improve automatically and the satisfaction of mastering a piece of music to me is a lot bigger than mastering a scale...


Silver Supporting Member
I had a very similar experience. Roughly the same age, learning later in life with a job, family, not loads of free time. My teacher was very good, but I was in a rut. Not his fault. The lessons started to feel like a second job to me. My teacher was also a very advanced musician with very deep knowledge of theory. Sometimes I just couldn't devote the time to grasping all the info from the lesson.

It all changed when I took a break from lessons and started playing at an open blues jam once a month. I just took what I knew about improvising out for spin the first time. Then revisited some blues songs that I could lead and maybe even try singing...this was a friendly jam, people at all levels.

I started with simple stuff - and even filtered in some CCR and a Dead song or two.

I then connected with some of the jammers to start a band and we prepared for a show. That got me very focused and motivated and I had to deal with learning some stuff I didn't know or even like.

Looking back, I think playing with others was the key motivator to keep me focused. It also introduced me to so songs and styles that ultimately made me better.

I later went back to my teacher for targeted instruction on things I wanted some help with. Not on a regular basis. Just as needed.


To me it sounds as though you really don't know what you want - I think you need to have a good long think about what you enjoy about playing the guitar, and what you want to be able to achieve in the future.

You're 50 years old so I'm assuming you don't want to be a professional musicians at this point in your life?

Do you want to be in a band and play live? Do you want to record either for fun or to sell (or both)?

Do you just want to jam with some friends ever now and then?

IMO you'll really benefit from getting a big sheet of paper and writing down what your broad aims are at the top, and then go down a level from each brad aim and add 1 or more slightly more specific aims - continue this down as many levels as is appropriate and you should end up with some pretty specific aims at the bottom e.g. I want to be able to play a solo over xx track, or I want to be able to play xx song all the way through.

This then gives you a map of what you want to achieve, so it should then be easier to decide if it's something you want to do on your own or with a teacher.

If you're only using the teacher to try to give yourself some discipline to practice, and you're afraid that you'll stop playing if you don't....then stop having the lessons right now!

Instead, pick up the guitar at the same time every day, and play something that you find enjoy for 5 minutes....after that, ask yourself if you want to carry on and try to learn something new. If not, don't sweat it...if yes, then great. As long as you do the 5 minute thing each day it should show you if you're enjoying it still.

Remember - the teacher may be able to give you some directions, but ultimately it's your own journey that you're on, not his...he may have a slightly different destination in mind to you.


Best advise I ever got early in my playing was to keep an audio diary. Record 5-10 minutes of your playing daily or weekly and every six months or so, go back and critically listen and compare with your latest diary entry. Sometimes I found I was in a rut and needed to change routine, mostly I was amazingly encouraged by how much better I had gotten. Try it.

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