I’m sure you know that person who picked up an instrument three months ago and can already play three dozen songs; all without taking any lessons. They may inspire you to start playing an instrument too; that is until you realize it’s not as easy as they made it seem. As you get farther and farther into playing, it’ll become clear to you that you’re simply not a natural. That’s normal. Most musicians didn’t even try to teach themselves their instrument when they started, instead they started taking lessons.
Lessons are the fastest and easiest way to learn the ins and outs of an instrument and the best way to push through the many difficulties that come with learning an instrument.
We’ve all had a teacher in Math, English, or some other class that made us care about their subject purely through their own excitement. It’s no different for music. Having a good teacher when you’re starting an instrument is the key to wanting to practice and progress. Most teachers want to meet with their students once or twice a week to check on progress, suggest new exercises, and give useful feedback. These meetings are the perfect way to keep you honest about your own practicing and ability. Any good music teacher can tell exactly where you’ve gotten better and where you have more work to do. There’s really no replacement for that feedback.
One of the best feelings is meeting with your teacher and a few other students who are at the same skill level as you. Playing solo is a completely different experience than playing with an ensemble. When you’re playing with a group there’s no going back to fix that one chord you misplayed or slowing down during a difficult section. Plus, playing with people at your own skill level, who are also working on getting better, can be incredibly validating. Meeting up with them every week gives you the opportunity to show off those measures you nailed down and listening to how they improved is the perfect way to train your ear. Giving others advice on their playing requires being able to hear the parts where they could use work. With enough practice, you can even start to hear the areas in your own playing that would benefit from a couple hours of practice.
While lessons take up time and energy, they are significantly more potent than practicing on your own. Half an hour with a professional musician can iron out problems that it would have taken you weeks to notice and fix. Plus, the hardest part of learning an instrument is staying on top of practice schedules and devoting the time required to really learn it. Your teacher wants you to get better and will continue to push you to get better until you’re as good as them, which puts pressure on you to practice. It’s more common than you think that students start playing gigs with their teachers after only a few months. Good luck practicing!