Fingers Making a Chord on Guitar Neck

By Lila Karash

How long will it take to learn to play guitar? This is a question that I often get from beginner students, but it can apply to any level of playing (I've been playing guitar for a long time, but still haven't mastered it). Unfortunately, I don't have a single good answer to this question, but I can tell you that my beginner guitar class typically learns to play a 3-chord song in about 8 weeks. However, some people want to move faster and others more slowly.

Since playing a musical instrument involves different parts of the brain, there are many factors that can affect progress. Everyone has a unique set of abilities, and some people will catch on faster than others. The two things that I have noticed over the years that make the more difference are:

1. Previous musical experience - have you ever played an instrument before? Even it's been 20 or 30 years, it can still make a difference. 

2. How much do you practice? The more consistently you practice, the sooner you will improve.

If you've never played an instrument before, you might still have some natural ability, so don't despair! Having good coordination can help too, but if you don't have good motor skills, guitar playing will help you develop them. If you are an older adult, learning might take a little longer, but the good news is that you are developing new brain pathways in the process and helping to keep your mind sharp, so keep going! Learn from other players who are better at it than you are, but don't get down on yourself because you are not  at the same level of proficiency as they are. From time to time, look at how far you have progressed by playing a song you learned several months ago. You may be surprised that it's much easier than it was before.

If you ever start to feel frustrated, remember that you are making an inanimate object sing, and that's pretty amazing!

November 14, 2020 — Carrie Bell

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