Learning music isn't always easy - in fact, for some people, it's kind of like learning another language.
That's why so many people turn to music teachers in order to learn them. After all, isn't learning an instrument just like any other kind of learning, like taking French lessons?
The obvious debate that always seems to arise is whether or not you should teach yourself or take lessons. In this article, we'll weigh the pros and cons of each strategy and give a recommendation you can take to the bank.
First, let's take a look at music lessons.
There are obvious benefits for taking lessons with a formal instructor. They'll keep you accountable, for one: by having a lesson every week or even more frequently, you're forced to practice just to keep up, and you have to continue to concentrate on your instrument just by virtue of meeting with your instructor.
Music teachers can also point out your weaknesses that you might not have been able to discover by yourself.
On the other hand, music lessons are costly
If you're on a budget, just buying the instrument itself might have taken a few months of scrimping and saving.
Even if you do buy someone's music teaching services, there's no guarantee that they'll actually help you - it's a classic case of "buyer beware." Check out About.com's look at the cost of Piano lessons.
When it comes to teaching yourself, there are some advantages.
You have the advantage of paying nothing except your time. You also have an advantage of setting your own schedule and being able to conduct your "lessons" in the comfort of your own home.
You can even practice in your pajamas! We're guessing most music teachers wouldn't appreciate that.
There is a trade-off in quality if you don't have the discipline to continue practicing regularly.
For one, you may not even know how or what to practice. For example, simply looking up guitar chords online might help you figure out which finger goes where, but you won't be sure if you're really doing it right without an outside perspective.
Ultimately, an ideal solution is to integrate a little of both.
If you're hiring a music teacher who freelances, try to work out something affordable, where he or she will review your practice every month rather than every few days or every week.
They can help direct you about what areas you should focus on, while you can still avoid much of the cost of having more regular lessons.
Your ability to maintain discipline will be vitally important here - with or without a teacher.