Over the 30 odd years or so that I've been playing, I've taken a few lessons. I'm betting, though, that I could count all the official lessons I've had on one hand. Maybe one hand and one foot. I'm sure there were actually more lessons than that, but not by much.
I've always said that music seems to come to me pretty easily. Growing up in the family I did, I was always exposed to music. It was all around me. My parents both sang. They also both played a little piano. My sister played the piano. She was quite good.
I dabbled at the piano. A couple of times. Got through John Thompson's first couple of big red books. The first time was in grade school. As I recall, I ended up quitting because my family packed up and moved back to Texas. The second time I was in high school. My dad was the one that noticed that I was playing mostly by ear and not really watching what was on the page. He saw this when he began to realize that I never practiced. I'd just get to the lesson, have the teacher play the piece for me ("can you play it for me once more time?"), and then I'd mimic what she had played. In those first couple of books, it wasn't really complicated, so it wasn't really hard to do.
So my dad gave me an ultimatum. Start practicing, and start practicing what was written in the book and not what I was hearing (even if what I was hearing was what was in the book). So I ended up quitting. Then I saw a band come through our church, and noticed that the guitar player seemed like they were having a blast playing, so I decided I wanted to play the guitar. So I convinced my folks to get me a guitar.
There was a lady in our church that played, so my parents talked to her about giving me some lessons. I took handful of lessons from her. She taught me the basics of finger-picking along with a couple of picking patterns. After just a few lessons, she announced to me that she had taught me everything that she knew. I'm still not convinced that was right, but that was all from her.
A few months later, my parents had me start some lessons from a bi-vocational pastor in the area. He pulled out the old Mel Bay book one. I don't remember why the lessons with him ended, but they did. Again, just a handful of them. Before they ended, he taught me to read music on a guitar. Well, at least he taught me to the key of C from middle C to high C. So 8 notes. Actually, it may've been from the A below middle C to high C because I liked the sound of an A minor chord. So 10 notes.
I used what he taught me from that and some of what I remembered from those piano lessons, and taught myself to read music on a guitar. This was before the days of tab. Or at least before I knew about tab, and definitely before you could jump online and download 15 different versions of incorrect tab for whatever song happens to suit your fancy.
Several years after that, I took a fancy to some classical guitar, and hired a teacher to teach me that style. He was actually really good, and he was one of the premier flamenco players in the city where I was living at the time. I had a job where I traveled a LOT back then, so it was take a lesson here, and then the next one would be a month or 6 weeks later. I think I got 5 lessons from him. He chose to use the Frederick Noad Book 1. I don't remember how far he and I got, but, from the little he and I got through, I worked my way through most of that book.
I moved back to Texas shortly after that, and tried to continue to pursue the classical style. Found a teacher, and hired her. We lasted I think 3 lessons. She had me working on Bach's Bourree I think (if it wasn't that one, it was another Bach piece) from that Noad book. That last lesson, I was playing through it for her, stopped, told her I was about to play part of it wrong, but I knew I was playing it wrong, but I liked the way it sounded better than what was in the book.
That launched us into a 30 minute argument of what Bach's intent was. Her arguing repeatedly that what Bach intended was written in the book, and me arguing back that neither one of us were alive back when Bach was, so we couldn't know his intent because who's to say that someone didn't accidentally copy his manuscript incorrectly and the error just be perpetuated.
In all honesty, all she had to do was to tell me that I needed to play as it was written in the book because she was the teacher and I was the student. Instead, she spent the entire lesson time arguing with me over Bach's intent. We were not a good match. I did not go back.
Fast forward 20 years or so, and I found Griff Hamlin's Blues Guitar Unleashed. After all those years, that drove me forward more and more quickly. I've considered Griff my teacher for the last several years even though I've only met him a couple of times, and the lessons are either DVD or online.
However, recently, I decided to start having face to face lessons with a local guy I found online. So far, I'm not unhappy with the lessons. I've been surprised to see that, so far, he hasn't really taught me anything that I don't already have at least a vague familiarity with because of Griff (even if I can't play it).
And that brings me to why I decided to start taking actual lessons. I had become more than a little stagnant in my playing with no direction. I'm not going to say that I didn't have any motivation to play, I just didn't have any motivation to put in the time to work to get better and learn new things.
So far, hiring the teacher has accomplished exactly what I wanted it to. Knowing that I'm going to be dropping the cash every other week at the lesson has kept me in the music room actually doing some woodshedding. One of my other goals was to use the time to actually learn some songs. (I can't remember the last time that I actually sat and learned a song.) He hasn't started into any songs at this point (other than to say "listen to this song to hear this technique used"), but he said in the next lesson or so we would. I've already got a couple in mind for that.
Accountability. Motivation. Direction. Those are the reasons I chose to hire a teacher. With my current job, it's only a matter of time before I have to drop out for a while because I'll be working. But I think I'll stick with him for a while.
Snarf is a wannabe musician who currently resides in the great state of Texas. His wife is his favorite. If Coca Cola was alcohol, he'd be a raging alcoholic. He dislikes going to the grocery store. And he still misses his dog who was taken by cancer 2 years ago. Check out his Reverb shop and see if he has any gear he's trying to get rid of.