I've read this entire thread. I'll speak form MY experience. I agree that you can have some success as a self taught musician. The one thing that no one can teach is desire. That has to come from within. If you have the desire and are willing to put in the time, you can learn anything. I picked up bass at 14, after drums and guitar earlier in my life. It was a very natural and intuitive fit for me, and I took right off learning by ear and pestering everyone that I thought was better than me (there were plenty). I played my first paying gig at 15, and by 16 I was in the clubs here in NJ 3 to 4 nights a week. Back then, the drinking age was 18, and the club scene was thriving. I then went to community college at age 18, and wanted to play in the stage and jazz band. I was pretty cocky, and I was in for a rude awakening. Everyone that I was competing against could read, and had studied formally. Chops were fine, but ensemble playing was way more important. What did I do? I took an elementary theory class. I took a lot of time and taught myself how to read. I took voice and learned "sight singing". By busting my ass, in my third semester I finally got the first bass chair. This experience helped me in that I was finally able to get studio work in NJ and NYC. Flash forward into the second half of my 20"s. I was still playing out regularly to the point where it could pay my rent. I was still largely self taught, and soaking up information from wherever I could get it (the internet didn't exist then, so as JimmyM can testify, we had to dig harder). I was hanging in a club in New Brunswick one night, and was blown away by the band that was playing there. The name of the band was Stretch, and the bassist was Dave LaRue, pre Steve Morse. I did my pestering thing that I mentioned earlier, and didn't get a specific tip that night. What I got was a phone number and the invitation to take lessons. I jumped immediately. Those lessons lasted about 18 months, and ended when Dave got the Steve Morse gig and was on the road constantly, and got widely known. It was boot camp, and my knowledge absolutely exploded on an exponential basis. Other doors opened for me as well. The moral of the story is this - you can do fine on your own, but by not taking advantage of those who can give you a world of knowledge, you are limiting yourself and your future. There are plenty of folks that are completely content with being "self taught" and there is nothing wrong with that. It all depends what YOU want. I'm now 48, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't learn something new, and understand how it all ties back to those 18 months of boot camp lessons!