Why You Can’t Always Learn From a YouTube Video

I often get new students who have tried and failed at learning guitar by watching YouTube videos. I have a couple of videos myself, so I’m certainly not against the idea of learning this way! In fact, many budding guitarists benefit from the generosity of players who demonstrate songs and techniques by video.

However, it is something akin to learning something by reading a book; some can, and others are only more confused. So don’t be discouraged if YouTube videos are not making you a guitar virtuoso! Now I will explain why.

First of all, you might be a beginner and not up on the “lingo”. A video can’t look at you and assess how much you know. So if you simply don’t understand the terminology used, or if a demonstration goes too quickly, it can be a complete turn off.

Secondly, those who can play, can’t necessarily teach. They may say that they are going to show you how to play something and go ahead and play it, and explain nothing! While some might be able to pick up on what they are doing, many can’t.

Thirdly, you may not realize what you need to learn first in terms of which videos to watch. If you want to learn to play solos, you need to learn scales…if you want to play your favourite Neil Young song, you need to learn chords and some strumming techniques. Again, videos can’t assess what you know, or don’t know. If you don’t know how to swim, don’t jump in the deep end!

Videos can also be wrong. When I say “wrong”, I also mean that people tend to play their own versions of songs, for instance, and it doesn’t quite sound like the original. You may have already come across that in terms of looking at chords and tabs at some of the more popular sites dedicated to it. When you try it out, it doesn’t really sound right, but you might blame it on yourself rather than on what the tab or video is showing you.

If you are a guitar enthusiast, videos can be a great way to augment your learning experience. But don’t consider yourself a failure if you are having trouble learning how to play from them! Therefore, I always encourage getting an instructor or taking some guitar classes so you can learn at a pace that works for you.


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