Most of us have, at least at one point in our life, wanted to learn an instrument. But many of us don’t go through with it. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the primary ones is cost and availability. Music lessons are often very expensive and especially in a country like Nepal, quite inaccessible too.
With the onset of the pandemic, the unavailability of lessons is even more prominent. Besides, it’s probably a better idea to learn from home anyway. There are various problems, however, that arise when you start learning from home. The first one is where to start. In this article, we will provide detailed guidelines for you to learn the guitar from home for free.
How this will work
I have based this guide on Josh Kaufman’s research, who claims that you can learn anything in 20 hours. If you strictly follow this guide, I think you can achieve this in just under 18 hours. The materials I will provide are easy to follow and pretty self-explanatory. Besides that, I have included personal tips as supplements so that you can become an even more efficient learner.
Learning guitar, at least to a basic level, is really not as hard as it looks. By the end of this guide, you will know what I mean. All of the resources provided here are completely free of cost. All you need is a guitar and a computer to finish this guide and learn how to play basic songs in 3 weeks only.
You will practice 45 minutes a day for the first two weeks. I think this is quite manageable, even to busy people who work 10-5. Separating less than an hour for 3 weeks will give you a skill level enough to impress your friends at an event or play along to a singer.
The first week is crucial to learning anything. This week will be hardest since your fingers will hurt and you will constantly be demotivated. Keep yourself in check and form a concrete habit.
Time per day: 45 minutes
Where do you start?
With learning guitar, the best place to start is here. This website has a series of 12 lessons that you should learn guitar in the first week. The structure by which you can watch these videos is given below
- Day 1: Lesson 0, 1, 2, 3,4, 6 (Skip 5)
- Day 2: Lesson 1, 2, 4, 6 (repeat), and 7
- Day 3: Lesson 6 (Repeat), 7, 8,
- Day 4: Lesson 2 (Repeat) + Same as Day 3
- Day 5: Same as day 3 + Lesson 9
- Day 6: Same as day 5 + Lesson 10
- Day 7: Lesson 9, 10, 11 and Lesson 5
You might think the schedule is weird and watching a video twice is unnecessary, but trust me, it’s very necessary. The video per day roughly equals 15-25 minutes, after which you will use the remaining 20-30 in practice and supplements.
Supplements for first week and extra tips
The videos are almost plenty for the first week and you don’t need to worry about much else. However, there are some things that you should keep in mind.
- Your fingers will hurt, don’t be discouraged by this. This is why we are keeping practice times to only 20-30 minutes in the first week.
- You don’t need to worry about strumming, for now, the materials in the videos aren’t supposed to be mastered in a week.
- Focus on placing your fingers in the fret for now.
- Changing chords quickly is also not expected of you yet
- Buzzing is also normal; you just need to get the chord structure and fingering.
Week 2 and 3
Time: 45 minutes (week 2) and 60 minutes (week 3)
These two weeks, we will work on making your fingers better. By the end of week 3, your fingers will hurt less, and your hand will be much better accustomed to the guitar. You will also learn guitar to change chords more quickly and learn to play a few pop songs.
Exercises for finger development
Finger exercises are crucial in the second week. Starting now, every time you play the guitar, you will start with these exercises. They will help your fingers cope with the string and make changing chords easier too.
Place your hand in the 6th string (Uppermost). Each finger should be in a unique fret, starting with the first fret. Press the first fret with the index finger and pluck, then press the second fret (with middle finger) and pluck, then press the third with ring and fourth with pinky, respectively. GO back the steps until you reach your index finger again. Repeat this in each of the 6 strings thrice.
Place your fingers in the same position as exercise 1. But instead of playing each string individually, you will continue from 6th string to the 1st string. So here’s the structure: Open (6th string), 1st fret (6), 2nd fret (6), 3rd fret (6), 4th fret (6), Open (5th string), 1st fret (5), and so on. Continue until you reach the 4th fret of the first string.
Learning your first real-world chords
Learning guitar really isn’t as hard as it sounds. If you try to learn all the chords possible all at once, you will certainly be intimidated. Instead, we are going to focus on the most important chords in the current music scheme.
I have studied the music theory for you and every musician will agree that there are 4 chords that repeat in a LOT of songs. The progression in musical terms is I – V – vi – IV. You don’t need to know what that means. In guitar chords terms, the easiest way to learn this progression is to learn these four chords:
G – D – Em – C
These chords are fairly easy to learn, and different variations of this will allow you to play I think 60% of all songs that are released right now. If you don’t believe me watch this video. The band plays an astounding 47 songs using this chord progression.
Learn Strumming patterns
The final piece to the puzzle is strumming patterns. For this, I recommend you watch this video. There are a total of 5 strumming patterns that you will learn from this. Take it slow, you don’t need to learn all the patterns at once. I have laid out a structure you can follow along with some extra tips.
Things to keep in mind
- Only strum in beat first without chords to get a feel of things.
- Try to replicate strumming patterns in your head.
- Replicate the beat of the song in a desk before you start strumming. This will help you get a feel of the rhythm.
- When introducing chords, always start with a single strum and then develop from there.
Structure to learn guitar strumming
- Watch the entire video on the first day.
- Practice one strumming pattern on the 2nd and 3rd day.
- Introduce the next pattern (total of 5) every 2 days but don’t stop practicing the previous pattern.
- Introduce chord and strumming together only in the third week.
Overall structure for week 2 and 3
- Finger exercise for 10 minutes every day.
- Learn the Em chord in day 1.
- Learn the G chord on day 2.
- Try to change between Em and G as quickly as you can.
- Learn the C chord and D chord in day 4,5.
- Change between C and D on day 6.
- Try to put all four chord together in days 7 and 8.
- Chords for 25 minutes each day.
- Strumming practice for 10 minutes each day. (week 2)
- Strumming practice for 25 minutes each day (week 3)
Why do people fail to learn guitar?
As I have mentioned already, many of us find ourselves with the drive to learn but the lack of means or motivation to do it. The drive to learn guitar slowly fades out while it becomes harder and harder to access higher-level materials.
Here, I have listed some points you need to be aware of so that you can avoid these in practice.
- Lack of structure and schedule is the main reason people discontinue learning.
- The need to master something is also a barrier to learning. You should focus on reaching a level of basic ability in the beginning phases.
- The clear structure of what and when you are going to learn guitar is also necessary to keep you on track.
- Lack of proper materials for learning.
Some solutions for the problems that may arise are laid out below
- Create a clear 45-minute schedule each day for the guitar alone.
- Never skip a day, no matter what, you will feel even more unmotivated the next day and the cycle goes on.
- Materials have been clearly provided in this article for the first 3 weeks.
- Follow the structure I have laid out here so that you will stay on track.
Now obviously, this guide is only to get you to a level of musicianship that will allow you to impress your friends at an event or play along to a singer. If you want to continue and learn guitar more, you can certainly do so. But trust me, in 3 weeks, you will be confident enough to show off your guitar skills to anyone. Not to mention this is completely free of cost and easily accessible. I hope you have a good time learning and wish you success as you start your musical journey. Happy learning!
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