Miami Guitar Teacher | Beginner Guitar FAQ

Beginner Guitar FAQs | Miami Guitar Teacher

Miami guitar teacher Dyce Kimura here, and I want to do an FAQ video today for people that are just starting to learn guitar. You might have a few questions. I get asked a series of questions, usually one of these questions every single day in my teaching studio. I just want to address them in a video. I’m going to read off these questions and then I’m going to answer them after that.

These are the questions, I put this list together, that I typically get asked. Should I start guitar with acoustic or electric? Should I start with nylon string or acoustic? Like steel string. Should I learn to play notes through books, like the Alfred method? Or should I just focus on chords and songs like what I see online and learn my favorite tunes? Do I need to use a pick? Or can I just use my fingers? That’s another question. How much should I spend on guitar lessons? How many guitar lessons does it take to get good? How often should I take lessons? How often should I practice? Can I learn through skype or any online course? Do I have to get a guitar teacher?  Click the link if you want to learn more about how to select a guitar teacherf.

These are just a few questions that I get asked all the time as a Miami guitar teacher. Let me address these one at a time for you. The first one; should I start with acoustic or electric? That’s a typical question, there is a few factors there on deciding on whether you should start with acoustic or electric. One of them is … assuming you’re an adult and you can handle any sized instrument, the real question is what kind of music do you listen to? What are your top 5 favorite bands? The fundamental driving force in the guitar of those bands; are they acoustic or are they electric? You know? If you say your favorite bands are Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn and BB King and Buddy Guy; all those guys play electric guitar so that’s pretty straight up, you should probably play electric. If you say your top favorite stuff is Willie Nelson and James Taylor and Neil Young and Jack Johnson or Jason Maraz, then maybe go with the acoustic. Does that make sense?

That being said, if you are a child or you are a girl or if you have small hands or if you have pain a lot in your fingers; electric is way easier to start. Just like if you’ve ever typed on an old fashioned typewriter, verses if you’ve typed on a laptop, it’s so much easier to type on a laptop. There is so many things you can do on a laptop, like go online and check your Facebook or check YouTube that is the same price as the typewriter. The same kind of concept applies with guitar. If you’re playing electric guitar, there are so many more options. Not only is it way easier to play the chords and strum the notes, you can use that amp to get any kind of sound. Maybe in a few months, if you’re one of my students I’ll start you playing lead. Easy two finger rifts, and all kinds of stuff. You don’t have to be stuck with playing chords all the time. That’s definitely a factor to consider.

Miami Guitar TeacherNow the electric is way smaller, in terms of size of the neck. The strings are lighter, the body is smaller, it’s great for women and children, even men. You just want to get jamming and spend all your energy in playing, you want to spend all the energy playing and not getting dragged down with the physical pain of trying to flesh out these chords. That’s something that you can consider. That’s my first answer for that. Should you play with acoustic or electric.

Second question for a Miami guitar teacher; should I start with a nylon string or an acoustic? Again, that’s kind of a similar answer to the first one. What kinds of bands do you listen to? Do you listen to bands that are mostly nylon string? Or do you listen to bands that are mostly steel string? For instance, for nylon string players … if you’re mostly listening to classical music, flamenco music, boleros, Brazilian Jazz; then you should probably play the nylon. If your favorite bands are playing steel string, then go ahead and get the steel string. I always go back to what kind of music are you listening to? Long term, you’re going to want to play what you’re into. That’s probably what you should focus on, okay?

Next question for a Miami guitar teacher: should I learn to play notes through books like the Alfred method or Melbae? Or should I just focus on chords and songs like what I see online and my favorite tunes? Again, it’s almost the same answer for questions one and two. What bands? What music are you listening to? Yes, I think you should play the stuff that you listen to, as soon as possible. If your Miami guitar teacher can’t help you, even as a beginner, simplify some music and learn to play some stuff that you’re into, then you should find another teacher. Keep looking for a teacher until you find a teacher that can teach you what you want to learn. Instead of you end up getting a teacher that will teach you what they know how to teach you. If that makes sense.

Learning through notes and learning through books, it’s a valid method. That’s actually the method that I came up learning by the way. I was forced to do classical, I wanted to play guitar and I was listening to Guns and Roses, 30 years ago, whatever. They ended up making me play Mozart, Chopin and Bach. I didn’t really like it, I hung around for six years doing that and then I switched over to the stuff that I listen to. The difference is when I play classical, I played 20-30 minutes a day, maybe. When I started playing rock, what I was really into I started playing 8-10 hours a day. I couldn’t put it down, the reality is let your kids play what their into, not what your into and your kid will mature as a player.

Now, if you keep playing and you don’t quit playing guitar, you’ll eventually learn all that stuff and go back. You can always learn notes and music theory. As a beginner, you want to get playing the stuff you want to play right away. I think that’s really important. If you become a really committed musician you can always go back and learn how to read notes and learn jazz and proper stuff and everything. It’s really important to just get going. The reality is it’s really hard to play guitar. A lot of people want to play guitar, and they can’t because it’s hard.

Assuming you bought a guitar and you’re getting into lessons from a Miami guitar teacher, that takes a lot of momentum. Just imagine that momentum is like a little candle that you have to stoke that flame to get the fire to burn. If you put too many rules and regulations on the student and you make them play classical or nylon when they really want to play electric. Or you make them play acoustic and you make them learn through notes and learn Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, when they really wanted to play Sweet Home Alabama. Then what ends up happening, that little candle, that flame ends up getting flickered out. They lose their drive and all of a sudden, their potential as a musician, it could have been there but it gets destroyed.

Next question; do I need a pick or can I just use my fingers? Great question. Again, same answer as all the other ones; what do your favorite bands do? Are you listening to people that just play finger style? Or are you mostly listen to people that use a pick? You can research this and find out. Finger style is like this, with my fingers. Some people with a pick though, they will just play with their thumb and that’s wrong. That’s terrible, please don’t do that okay? If you’re going to do finger style, I tell all my students then you should legitimately use real finger style techniques. If you’re going to use a pick, use a pick. Don’t use a pick and then use the finger style, like strum with your thumb as though it were a pick. Long term, that’s not a good strategy. You’re not going to have precision, you’re not going to have control. You’re not going to have attack, you’re not going to have speed.

It’s like a hybrid technique of just laziness. You’re too lazy to learn the real bonafide finger style and you’re too lazy to go with a pick, so you try to change it. It’s going to work for you for a few months and then you’re going to hit a ceiling of when that technique no longer works for you anymore, then you’re going to have to try to figure something else out. At that point, you’re going to wish you’d spent those last couple of months already developing a right way instead of having to go back and re-learn things from a Miami guitar teacher.  Figure out what your favorite top 5 or top 10 guitar players are doing and emulate them.

Eric Clapton is a great guitarist, when he’s playing electric blues, he’s playing with a pick. When he plays acoustic, he plays with his fingers. John Mayer played with a pick almost exclusively for a number of years and then now he exclusively plays with his fingers, so does Jeff Beck. It depends on who you’re listening to. I know Stevie Ray Vaughn, for the most part, played all with a pick. You’ve got to listen to who your favorite players are and then chose the technique that fits with them. By the way, if you end up playing finger style or with a pic, as a beginner, you’re not locked into that for the rest of your life. Me, I played both finger style and with a pick too. No problem, or I can play with a finger.

Next question; how much should I spend on guitar lessons? You want to get a good instructor. You don’t want to waste your time with a bad instructor that is going to teach you bad habits. It depends on what city you’re in. I’m in Miami and good lessons will run you anywhere from $45 an hour to $70 an hour. Somewhere in between there. In other cities, if you’re in a more rural area like Colorado and Montana or Arkansas. They could be more expensive, like a $100 an hour, it depends. Be ready to pay for good instruction.

If you’re going to pay for lessons and it’s going to be difficult for you to afford it, make sure you practice to make it worth your while. Do you research, get a good Miami guitar teacher that has great reviews and that you connect with personally, that knows how to get you excited in your music. Budget your lessons, space them out to make them worth your while. Getting cheap lessons can hurt you, so keep that in mind. Cheaper, isn’t always better. Make sure you like the way your teacher plays, that’s really important. Don’t get someone just because they have a bunch of letters after their name or they have a degree. Ask them to play for you, and if you like the way they play then they can teach you to play like that, if that makes sense.

I get asked this next question all the time; how many guitar lessons does it take to get good? Man, that is a relative question, isn’t it? That’s like calling a gym and saying how many workouts will it take for me to get skinny? I don’t know it depends on how fat you are I guess. It depends on what your definition of good is. How many guitar lessons does it take to get good? It depends, are you practicing every day? Are you practicing 30 minutes a day, an hour a day? How often are you taking lessons? Man, how old are you? How quick of a learner are you? I will tell you this; in music, you get everything out that you put in. Just realize that you are never going to get something out that you don’t put in.

If you practice every single day for 30 minutes to an hour a day, the average student should be able to play a song with a CD … at least my students, within a month or two. Depending on how good you are and how good your rhythm is. Within a month or two, I’ll get you playing songs. Not just by yourself, but playing with a real track. To a top 40 famous song, you know? Hopefully that may answer your question. A lot of times I’ll tell people, take a few lessons and then ask me that question again. It’s such a relative answer, it’s just different for everybody, you know?

How often should I take lessons with a Miami guitar teacher? A good pace is one hour once a week. That’s a great pace. If you can afford it and you have the time, you should do that. Anything less than that, it gets a little tricky. If you schedule a lesson every other week with a Miami guitar teacher, it can be done if you have a lot of internal momentum as a beginner. Most people don’t. Some people, they are beginners and they schedule one lesson a month, that is very difficult for the student and the teacher. People that come in like that, I often don’t remember the thing that we last worked on, it’s been a month. They’re not very committed to lessons, it’s hard for me to really commit emotionally to what they’re trying to do. I’m spending 20 minutes on a lesson just figuring out what the last thing we did and where they’re at because I haven’t seen them in so long. A lot of times the momentum is lost.

When you’re learning a new thing, like guitar, momentum becomes very important. You want to gain momentum with your learning, you want to be on a good learning page with your Miami guitar teacher and then you guys get together once a week and hopefully your instructor knows where you’re at and knows what to give you and how much to push you and how to challenge you, how to phrase and word things so that you’re going to understand. Then gives you a clear idea of what to work on the next 6-7 days. Then you have a clear understanding, even though you can’t do it perfectly, I’ll see you next week and then we’ll figure that out. Then we’re going to go from there and take the next challenge. If you space that out for more than 2 weeks at a time, let’s say every 3 weeks, once a month or beyond; it just gets really difficult. It gets difficult for the teacher and the student.

miami guitar teacherThe problem is a lot of students don’t realize that, they think one lesson a week is good and one lesson every other week is half as good. Not necessarily, you get less than half a value from a Miami guitar teacher. You lose momentum in those 14 days and if you go beyond that every 3 weeks or every 4 weeks or whatever, you just continually lose momentum and you defeat the purpose of the unique reason for having a teacher. You want a coach in your life that is helping you keep track of your progress and doing a lot of the thinking for you of what the next step in your development is going to be. That’s the advantage of having a Miami guitar teacher. If you don’t do that and you just check in with at teacher once in a while, you’re kind of having a fast food mentality with your instructor. I’ll just pop in, I’ll eat what I can take and I’ll leave the rest on the table and I’ll see you when I see you. That is usually not a good formula for success.

Financially, if that’s your situation or time wise that is your situation, totally understandable, it’s fine. If you can avoid that, please don’t do it. Try to get on a regular regimen with your instructor, it’s really going to help you have consistent progress and success in playing. Which brings us to the next question.

How often should I practice? You should play everyday. As a Miami guitar teacher, I hope that is not an alien concept. If you want to get good at something, you do it as much as possible, you know? That’s again, a very relative question. I’ll usually tell beginners to play 20, 30, 40 minutes a day, depending. If it’s a child, 12 or less; maybe 20 minutes a day or 20 minutes twice a day. If you can, try 20 minutes a day and you want to build up your stamina, if you can build yourself up to practicing 30 minutes a day, go for 35. If you can do 35 go or 40, 45. If you can play an hour, play an hour. You know when you’re in the gym doing cardio, there are things that in the first 10 minutes that you’re doing cardio, all you’re doing is just burning off sugar. Not until you pass that 30 minute mark, you start really burning fat and the cardio starts changing in nature. It’s the same with practicing guitar. Not until you get deeper into your playing for that hour can you really explore concepts that are available that are going to be deeper than just burning off the sugar.

If you’re working on an idea and you can get deeper into the idea by spending more time focusing on it, don’t’ just think that if you can do the exercise or the assignment or play the song that you can stop. If you keep playing that song, new things start to bubble up. You can bring them to your Miami guitar teacher and actually have something to bring to the table instead of the other way around where you are just taking. I practiced that song and I kept practicing that song and made this groove and then I just invented something and it was different and explain to me what I did. I don’t know I like it, tell me why this is working. That’s a great conversation that I can have with a student that could kick us off on some new tangent that’s fun and exciting. You get out of it what you put into it.

Last question; can I learn through skype or an online course or do I have to get a Miami guitar teacher? The answer … you don’t have to do anything, you’re going to get what you put into it. If you’re in a rural area or maybe another country and you don’t have a good instructor within driving distance, then you should try to learn on skype. Guitar is really difficult to learn and it’s difficult to play. It’s challenging to teach guitar too, to do it right. If you can find a good teacher that’s like a guru, you’re better off sticking with that teacher, whether it’s through skype or whatever system they’re offering. I would discourage you to try to have a fast food mentality, like a smorgasbord mentality with your music education.

It’s hard, you can go on YouTube and Twitter and You and and all kinds of different platforms and just learn a little bit here and there and bits and pieces. You’re going to be busy doing all of this busy work, but there is no uniformity. This big sea of music that you’re trying to learn you could learn these little spots here and there. Little bit of music theory, little bit of technique, little bit of chords, maybe the intro to a song, it’s like they are all disconnected. If you really find an instructor the way they play, then try to make it a point to shadow and trail that instructor, if you can.

I have a very old school way of learning things, I grew up in Japan and I grew up doing karate. This was in Japan, years ago. We had this concept of the master and the student. The student would follow the master and the student isn’t Googling things and just doing random YouTube stuff or whatever. If you want to learn something you really need to follow the master. I started to apply that with guitar and I found a guy that was like the “master” this was … I remember I was 16 when I met a real full-time pro in my city in Japan. He took me under his wing and I started meeting with him once a week and I would go to all his shows. Eventually we would meet more than once a week and talk on the phone and eventually over the years we developed a relationship where he would come into the studio and help me with stuff I was working on. He was a real deal pro, and I started to get a very thorough education in how to play professionally.

My next move from there was I became a full-time pro Miami guitar teacher the United States in Miami, when I moved here. I can really trace it back to having a pro looking over my shoulder, helping me. To whatever degree you can get yourself under the tutelage or the discipleship of a real deal pro to be like your “master”, that’s definitely a formula for success. It’s kind of counter modern day, social media, fast food culture. It’s like you plug into YouTube and you learn a leg here. Nothing wrong with that by the way. That’s great. I learn stuff off YouTube all day. If you don’t have a basic understanding of how to play music and how to play grooves and how to interpret songs and learn them online and stuff, you really need to connect with somebody that understands the big picture.

That’s just a few FAQ’s. Please comment, I’ll respond to everything I can. I’ve a guitar player for 30 years, this is my 31st year actually. I’ve been teaching guitar full time for about 15 years. I’ve encountered a lot of different types of students, a lot of different questions. Keep in mind, I myself am a student too of the guitar. I’m a Miami guitar teacher but I’m also a student of music. A lot of these things that you may be encountering, I’ve actually dealt with in my own journey and then helping the thousands of other people that I’ve helped. If you want to learn more about how to get good at guitar click the link.  If you have questions or comments if you agree or disagree to whatever I’m saying, please just comment. Make sure to like and subscribe to my channel for more of my videos.  Thanks so much!  

Dyce Kimura offers singing lessons and guitar lessons to students in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami area. He also teaches students globally thru Skype. For more information call 7864573687. Also feel free to email Dyce at   Remember its always best to get advise from Fort Lauderdale singing lessons professional.  For more information click here.