On learning learning guitar

chordsHope heads back to school this week. She’s taking my guitar with her.

I bought it in the early 70s. At the time, I played regularly (rhythm, for those who wonder). It’s a Penco, unknown now, nice then.  During the past 25 years, I’ve played occasionally for church-related events.

Early this summer, Hope said that she wanted to learn to play guitar and that she wanted me to teach her. I had a friend replace the rusty five-year-old strings. And I showed Hope some basic chords. I had her find them. I played them for her. I explained barre chords. I talked about practicing, about building endurance.

And then I let her go.

We’ve talked since then, I’ve given some more pointers. Last night, I added a couple more chords for her.

This morning I realized that I hadn’t taught her how to play the guitar. I taught her how I learned to play the guitar.

When I learned, I taught myself. I found a chord book. I started playing some chords. I learned how to play the G wrong (still do, still prefer my way). I connected with other people playing. I started playing at church. I saw things that other people did and tried them.

For me, learning the guitar was a solitary pursuit. By choice.

I think that Hope was wanting the communal pursuit. Working together, meeting regularly. Encouraging the practicing. Watching the practicing. Picking songs with basic chords and working on the patterns.

I’m not too melancholy about this. I’m glad I realized what I did. We’ll talk, we’ll work some more. But I did learn something about learning and teaching.

You can teach someone the method you learned by or you can teach them the subject matter in the method they learn by. The first one is easy. The second is life-changing. For both of you.


One response to “On learning learning guitar

  1. I stumbled upon this post through Google BlogSearch while searching for the keyword “guitar”, looking for guitar technique blogs. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and I’m not exactly sure why because it didn’t have anything to do with what I was looking for! Thank you.