If you’re a musician or if you want to dive into the universe of the guitar and you live in Boston, a capital city in New England and the American Northeast, there are a range of options available to you.

Amateur or seasoned guitarist, you’ll undoubtedly find a place to learn the guitar, advance your knowledge, or simply introduce yourself to this incredibly popular instrument in Boston, whether you’re 6 or 66.

So Bostonians, read on to discover how and where you can learn to play your first chord progression!

The conservatory

The city of Boston has long been a go-to city for higher education, from the prestigious ivy league schools like Harvard to its many local institutions.

And the same goes for music! Some of the most famous musicians of this and past generations have attended the Berklee College of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, or the Boston Conservatory, to name but a few.

If you’re one of those people who want to know everything there is to possibly know about your instrument, who are disciplined and ready to stick to the guitar for several years, the conservatory is the place for you. Just remember, acceptance to these institutions is very competitive and once there, you’ll need to discipline yourself for an incredibly rigorous training.

Located in the city center in very close proximity to Symphony Hall and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the New England Conservatory of Music (290 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115 / 617-585-1100) is a magnificent place to learn the guitar. You’ll be surrounded by a range of other students specializing in every instrument or genre you can think of, as well as voice and composition, among many other subjects.

The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, back in 1917! Image: Visual Hunt
The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, back in 1917! Image: Visual Hunt

Many of the world’s most successful guitarists began their careers at Berklee College of Music (921 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215 / 617-747-8551), such as John Abercrombie, Bruce Cockburn, Ali DiMeola, Kevin Eubanks, Bill Frisell, Emily Remler, John Scofield, Steve Vai and Mark Whitfield. The guitar department at Berklee offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, a comprehensive education in music and individualized instruction in both electric and acoustic guitar.

The Boston Conservatory (8 Fenway, Boston, MA 02215 / 617-536-6340) or the music departments in the city’s other higher education institutions, such as Boston University or Northeastern University are also excellent options to look into for your music education!

Music schools

It’s possible to apply oneself on the guitar from a very young age. We advise introducing the guitar to children between the ages of 4 and 6, while proper lessons in playing should take place from the age of 6 or 7.

Music schools come in a range of levels and qualities. For those looking to master the guitar to go on to higher education studies and professionalism, a lot of preparation and training is required.

With that said, every student must take at least 4 hours of guitar lesson per week that might be divided as such:

  • 1.5 hours of solfège (or music education)
  • Between 30 minutes and 1 hour of guitar practice (either in a private lesson or with another student)
  • 1.5 hours of orchestral practice.

To apply yourself on the guitar, you should practice your instrument while acquiring a solid base in music theory and education (such as solfège). And music schools can be the perfect places for doing that, at any age.

Find the best guitar lessons near me here.

Guitar lessons can start early!
Guitar lessons can start early!

For children, adolescents and adults alike, training is interdisciplinary and you’ll surely find what you are looking for in your guitar instruction. You could also supplement your training with a singing lesson (singing and playing the guitar at the same time => refer to our article).

There are obviously public music schools but private ones increasingly appear to deliver an unparalleled music training.

Of course, some schools are excellent while others are mediocre. So before deciding, we recommend that you do a bit of research on each one to learn about their fees, the content of the curriculum, and to see if you can meet one or two of the guitar teachers.

So visit the schools in person, speak with their directors, and don’t hesitate to ask for guitar instructors’ references!

Plus, it’s often possible to sit in on a guitar course to get a better idea of what it’s like. Remember that everyone has specific learning wants and needs (ex: learning the guitar for left-handed players).

Boston-born guitarists are incredibly talented. Do the names James Taylor, Susan Tedeschi, and Watermelon Slim ring any bells?

Boston legend James Taylor on stage with the equally talented Carole King. Image: Visual Hunt
Boston legend James Taylor on stage with the equally talented and beloved Carole King. Image: Visual Hunt

Here are just two of the music schools in Boston you may want to check out:

  • The Boston School of Guitar (33 Harvard St., #300, Brookline, MA 02445 / 617-505-1822) offers home, Skype lessons and group lessons. You can hoose from eight teachers with different personalities, styles and backgrounds in music.
  • The Yamaha Music School of Boston (57 Bedford St., Lexington, MA 02420, 781-274-7100) introduces music fundamentals to children when their hearing capabilities are developing rapidly. This esteemed school offers guitar lessons and classes in beginner, intermediate and advanced to children and adults.

Community and Cultural Centers

Cultural centers and associations are perfect for those who want to play the guitar quickly and who perhaps want to avoid that difficult solfège training!

Workshops sometimes propose a less academic instruction than in a music school or in conservatories, but that could be closer to the needs and tastes of amateur guitarists, children, adolescents and adults alike.

Whether you wish to play afro-cuban rhythms, rock, classical or folk music, or if you just want to accompany other musicians, there are a range of places where you can discover music and the world of guitars.

Don’t hesitate to go to your local community center or library to get the contact details of the various and most active cultural centers and associations.

Here is one that we strongly recommend you look into:

Private lessons

Learning to play the guitar in Boston can also be done… at yours.

One must accept frustration while learning the guitar.
Set up a guitar studio in your home!

Private lessons, tailored to match your needs and expectations, are a fantastic and efficient way to master an instrument.

All you have to do is find a guitar instructor who corresponds to you, who will listen to and guide you in your training and, according to the music genre you’ve chosen, teach you how to play guitar in the comforts of your own home.

Guitar instructors are passionate professionals who work according to a training method with the aim of providing the highest quality courses. But you must be careful when choosing your music teacher, as really anyone can profess to be an accredited teaching musician, regardless of training or background.

So we strongly recommend that you meet your prospective instructor’s other students, discover his or her learning method, and listen to him or her play in order to form your own opinion. Don’t hesitate to lead a little inquiry to discover if your instructor has won any awards or given concerts, and learn about his or her music career.

Find yourself a Superprof!

In Boston there's a concert night -- mandatory "homework" for every budding guitarist. Here's Infernal Overdrive at O'Brien's in Allston, Mass in 2011. Image: Visual Hunt
In Boston there's a concert every night -- mandatory "homework" for every budding guitarist. Here's Infernal Overdrive at O'Brien's in Allston, Mass in 2011. Image: Visual Hunt

Whether you live in the center of Boston or on the outskirts of the city, you’ll easily find a range of highly competent and qualified guitar teachers who will be ready to help you in your guitar training.

  • Boston Guitar Lessons (236 Huntington Ave., #215, Boston, MA 02115 / 857-445-1947) features a wide range of guitar instruction, including acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, mandolin, bass and banjo. They also teach a number of styles, so if students want to learn a blues or funk electric style instead of a rock one, instructors here have it covered. Boston Guitar Lessons offers a free lesson with one of its teachers so you can see how it goes before committing.
  • Beginner Guitar Lessons at Music Maker Studio (185 Corey Rd., Brighton, MA 02135 / 617-734-7441) offers lessons with with Derrick Campbell, a 20-year veteran guitar teacher who offers a variety of lessons. He teaches middle and high school students guitar in Dedham, and also does group lessons at the Boston Center for Adult Education. He gives private lessons at the studio as well. Campbell has written and recorded a basic guitar lesson and posted it on his website, so prospective students can check it out and getting to know Campbell’s teaching style and personality before signing up.
  • Lesson with Brant Grieshaber (131 W. Concord St., Suite 1, Boston, MA 02118/ 617-312-3554), jazz performing artist and graduate of the Berklee College of Music. Grieshaber teaches beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons in guitar. The recording studio on the premises is also open to students who want to record and share their work. If going to class is a problem, Grieshaber has made his lessons more accessible by offering them over Skype to students who cannot be there in person.
  • Boston Voice and Guitar Lessons (326 Malden St., Medford, MA 02155 / 617-529-1436) is led by three instructors: one teaches electric guitar and bass, two teach guitar and vocals. Plus, Scott Toomey teaches private piano lessons and is willing to do lessons in just about every instrument he knows, this diversity makes Boston Voice and Guitar a great place for students who want to learn more than one skill.

The city is teeming with talented individuals who offer guitar and solfège instruction, who will teach you how to improve, learn to play a chord or arpeggio, develop a certain technique and discover another music style (blues, rock, classic, flamenco, reggae, funk, pop, country, etc.) Why not go to your local music shop or consult the ads in your library or community center to get some contact details?

You’ve got all the information you need: you have no excuse to not learn to play the guitar in Beantown!

So get out your metronomes and… ready, set… guitar! You’ll be playing like Jimi Hendrix in no time.

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