The guitar is one of the most popular musical instruments today.

We’ve done a bit of digging to uncover the main places and options for playing the guitar in five major US cities: Nashville, L.A., New York, Chicago, and Boston.

Note that this article focuses predominantly on organizations that offer guitar courses. It’s where you’ll find your ideal guitar instructor to teach you everything from how to tune a guitar to music theory, from guitar scales and basic chords, to mastering a chord progression or an arpeggio!

Learning guitar in Nashville: different course types and options

According to your budget, where you live and the type of guitar course you’d like to take, you’ll easily find an option that corresponds to your needs. So whether you’re a fan of the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, rock guitar or blues guitar, read on!

Learning to play the guitar in Nashville is incredibly easy as there are many organizations set up to support this. It was the birthplace of blues and country music after all, and it continues to be a thriving hub for these and other music genres! The different possibilities are numerous in the city itself as well as just outside:

Places to play guitar in Nashville. Image: Visual Hunt
Places to play guitar in Nashville. Image: Visual Hunt
  • A music school
  • A workshop, a community or cultural center
  • A private lesson in your home.

Music holds a very important place in the city of Nashville, and in the hearts of its inhabitants, charming accents and all. Tennessee also brings together some of the world’s greatest musicians during its many annual festivals including the CMA Music Festival and Sewanee Summer Music Festival. Whether you live close to the center or in a residential area, you’ll easily find a guitar teacher or a school to learn how to play guitar.

Music rounds out our education. Photo: Visual Hunt
Begin guitar lessons in Nashville. Photo: Visual Hunt

Of course there are fantastic music departments at Belmont University and Vanderbilt University. You college-level guitar players should also check out the Contemporary Music Center.

Music schools are open to any person who wants to learn to play or improve his or her level. Start practicing your strumming!

The Nashville Music Academy offers music instruction for any age and instrument; while the School of Rock is a summer camp for you younger players out there!

Other less formal organizations like community centers also offer guitar classes in Nashville. And don’t forget about the other convivial non-instructional venues where you can join in a group jam session!

And what about private lessons in your home?

A professional comes all the way to your place to offer a completely personalized training about the machinery and techniques of the guitar. (Some are even doing it via Skype!)

Check for out-of-the-box guitar lessons here.

Where to learn the guitar in L.A.

Traveling to the West Coast, Los Angeles is an incredibly musical city (makes sense given its reputation for drama and performance), attested to by the numerous music concerts held throughout the year.

For those who wish to learn the guitar in Los Angeles, brush up on their solfège or find a local spot to play their favorite instrument, L.A. is teeming with well-known or underground places where you can indulge in your passion.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Music Center of Los Angeles County. Photo: Visual Hunt
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Music Center of Los Angeles County. Photo: Visual Hunt

Just like we just discussed for Nashville, L.A. has big and medium-sized organizations that support the study of music:

  • In terms of higher education, there is the prestigious Los Angeles College of Music (LACM) with its highly-reputed guitar degree program that offers both Associate of Arts and Bachelor of Music diplomas. There’s also the Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music. Guitar and Bass Guitar features in its performance program; while you can study “guitar craft” in its entertainment industry program.
  • Music schools, notably private ones, are plentiful in L.A., and these include the Cornerstone Music Conservatory, Pasadena Conservatory of Music (located in Pasadena) for all ages, and the rigorous Music Academy at the Colburn School.
  • Cultural centers such as Education Through Music; Music Unites Guitar Program; and Center for the Art of Performance are just three of the many opportunities out there for you beginner or advanced guitar players.

Whatever your preferred music style may be, you’ll always find a fellow guitarist to accompany you and play a few riffs on the guitar with you in L.A. And why not use this as a chance to play a few guitar solos?

Guitar class at the Musicians Institute, Los Angeles
Guitar class at the Musicians Institute, Los Angeles

Lastly, another solution is to take guitar classes in L.A. via the wide network of independent instructors: by browsing the classified ads throughout the city, on the Internet or in music stores, you’ll come across a range of educational support platforms specialized in music instruction on all you want to know on the guitar.

And there are so many cultural opportunities at your fingertips to take advantage of. In addition to taking guitar lessons, the best training is getting out there to see what (or hear) what is happening in the world of music. For instance, in downtown Los Angeles there is the Music Center of Los Angeles County, which holds the new Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum. What better way to spend a weekend in L.A.?

Different ways of learning guitar in New York

Well, as the capital of music and the arts in general, New York offers a score of possibilities for playing and learning the guitar.

Whether you’re an amateur, a beginner who needs to know just about everything, or an established musician, the city of New York offers numerous solutions for acquiring a general guitar instruction or for learning a particular style (blues, rock, funk, country, etc.). Remember, this is the city of both Lincoln Center and the jazzy Village Vanguard!

Lincoln Center is home to New York’s prestigious Julliard School. Image: Visual Hunt
Lincoln Center is home to New York’s prestigious Julliard School. Image: Visual Hunt

Of course, New York boasts several of the most famous conservatories that offer musical education of the highest quality including guitar instruction: Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music (especially known for jazz), and Mannes College (the New School for Music).

But New York has a host of smaller music schools outside of higher education geared towards various levels and genres. These include the 92 Street Y Guitar Institute, the Kaufman Music Center, the Williamsburg School of Music, Astoria Music (which is also a fabulous music shop), New York City Guitar School, New York Jazz Workshop, Sage Music, and Bantam Studios, where you can play guitar while enjoying a drink or two!

However, if your budget is on the lower end, there are community centers that welcome you no matter the style of music you’d like to play on the guitar! How about Exapno and Goddard Riverside Community Center to name two!

In these convivial and dynamic spaces, workshops are possible, prompting improvisation and exciting exchanges between musicians of all kinds.

Where to play the guitar in New York City? Photo: Visual Hunt
Where to play the guitar in New York City? Photo: Visual Hunt

The community fiber of New York City is very full and active, so you’ll always find a center that offers cultural and musical activities, suited to your personal guitar playing and training.

Learn to play the guitar in New York City!

Where to play guitar in Boston

Boston is a rich cultural center and its offerings for music education are renowned throughout the country.

Whether it’s for learning solfège or discovering the fundamentals of your musical instrument, you’ll be able to find numerous experienced guitar instructors.

Some of the most famous musicians of this and past generations have attended the Berklee College of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, and Boston Conservatory.

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

You are spoiled for choice in terms of musical training method in Boston. Are you more of a blues guitar person or classical guitar person?

There are so many places that offer guitar courses in Boston. You can go private with Boston Guitar Lessons, Beginner Guitar Lessons with Derrick Campbell at Music Maker Studio, or Boston School of Guitar.

There are also various community centers and music schools that cater to a range of levels and genres such as the Community Music Center of Boston and the highly-esteemed Yamaha Music School of Boston.

How to find a guitar class in Chicago 

We didn’t forget about our Midwestern readers! Lucky for you, guitar training is facilitated by the large number of music schools in Chicago.

The Chicago School of Music offers high-quality private guitar lessons. And the same goes for the Hyde Park School of Music, the Merit School of Music, and Bucktown Music. Or try the Chicago Academy of Music, which is ideal for learning solfège and basic training on any musical instrument.

There are other Chicago music schools and music centers that are more affordable for beginner guitar players who want to start lessons. The Music Institute of Chicago is a great place to start looking! And we never even mentioned the possibility of free lessons…

And for those interested in specializing in guitar for your higher education, there are the highly reputed Chicago College of Performing Arts (Roosevelt University) and DePaul School of Music.

Remember that, in whatever city you live, guitar playing should be fun. That’s especially something to keep in mind when finding guitar lessons for kids!

Where will you learn to play the guitar in the city of Chicago? Image: Visual Hunt
Where will you learn to play the guitar in the city of Chicago? Image: Visual Hunt

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

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

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