Many new guitarists have gotten into the instrument after being entranced by professional musicians playing on the big stage, or perhaps even a humble busker performing on the street. It’s natural then that they would want to jump straight into the practical aspects of guitar playing, searching up “How To Strum” tutorials on YouTube at the first opportunity. As such, the comparatively drier music theory may be put on the back burner.
However, you need to learn to walk before you can run.
Music theory, in essence, is a collection of information that describes ‘how music works’. It informs musicians about the fundamental rules of music, helping them understand what works, what works well together, and why it works. It is through building on this foundation, that musicians can compose and perform to their fullest potential. It’s no wonder that the best beginner guitar lessons heavily feature musical theory.
If you’re still not convinced, have a look at these 3 reasons why music theory is so important to your development as a guitarist.
1. Makes learning easier
Some musicians, professional and amateur, have found success playing music without understanding what makes it ‘sound good’. Some do not even know how to read music notation and tablature, and memorise the songs by finger positioning alone. While this is a viable way to learn to play the guitar, it is far from efficient.
Guitar tablature is rather simple to understand. Each tab line intuitively corresponds to one string on the guitar, and the number corresponds to the fret the note is to be played on. However, the notations for other features like hammer-ons, pull-offs, sides, and bends, are not as simple. By understanding the notations through and through, learning to play correctly becomes less of a trial-and-error situation, letting you focus on perfecting your technique.
More in-depth concepts, like how chords are built, keys, cadences, intervals, and so on, are equally important. For every concept that you learn, you can easily apply that knowledge to the next tune that you study. This speeds up learning significantly, compared to getting stuck every time you encounter a new concept in your sheet music.
Music theory can be thought of as the language of music. It provides a common frame through which musicians can discuss their ideas, even when they play entirely different instruments.
While there are terminologies exclusive to guitars or their string instrument cousins, most music theory is universal. Whether you play the acoustic guitar or are rocking out with an electric jazz guitar, the fundamentals stay the same. Any type of music has a set of sounds that define them, regardless of genre or instrument.
Understanding this is especially important for those looking to play in a band. Working with other creative minds can be a fulfilling experience, so long as everyone can communicate effectively. Common knowledge of music theory smoothens that process, facilitating discussion and helping you produce solid music.
Every guitarist’s dream is to pull off a sick improvised solo in front of an adoring crowd. But being able to create music on the fly doesn’t come without a lot of hard work and theoretical knowledge. As mentioned previously, music theory is about ‘how music works’. Knowing the appropriate scales and chord progressions to use will go a long way in helping you string together the right sounds for your solo.
Of course, music theory alone won’t get you to the level you need to play jaw-dropping solos and riffs. Practice is still very much a crucial part of the formula for success. But with both a solid understanding of theory and regular practice, you will be jamming away centre stage in no time.
That being said, music theory is not easy to pick up alone. Concepts can be difficult to understand, given the music jargon, and you may need an expert to help you along and clarify your doubts. To that end, you can attend music courses in Singapore to get professional guidance and ensure that you are learning the correct content.