Music Theory

 There’s a great debate among guitar players, even very good ones, about the need to know music theory.  In fact some great players may tell you you’re wasting your time learning music theory, just learn lots of songs and play as much as possible.  The good players that I hear say this are players that have crafted their skills for decades practicing for many hours per day.  Along their journey they have discovered the many of concepts of music theory on their own even if they do not know the correct theory terminology.  So if you want to quit your day job and spend the next decade trying to figure it out on your own that’s fine, but there’s no need to. Any scientist can learn in a few years what it took Einstein a lifetime to figure out on his own.   In just a few hours a week you can easily learn music theory and understand how to apply it to your instrument and that will help make you the player you want to be.   

If a child wants to read a book would you help him memorize the story or would you teach him the alphabet and phonics and how to read a book.  Would you try to teach him how to add before he learns numbers or how to count?  Once a child learns to read and write and add and subtract his knowledge increases exponentially because he can use the reading and math concepts he already knows to help him learn more.  There is always a systematic progression for learning and it applies to music too.  There’s a musical alphabet and counting system that you need to learn to make music easier and more fun, and that will increase your advancement speed. 

Let me use another analogy here that may also help you understand why learning music theory is important.  Let’s say you want to bake a cake.  You already know how to use a mixer, measure ingredients and preheat the oven. Based on your current knowledge and experience it might take you days, months or even years to figuring out the correct ingredients, quantities, baking time, etc to bake a decent tasting cake.  However, it would be quite simple to open up a book, follow the simple instructions and bake a delicious cake in just a few minutes from a recipe created by some one who has already mastered the art of cake baking. Good cooks don’t spend years trying to figure out how to cook on their own; they learn the basic concepts through advanced skills from successful cooks and then add their own flare.  Doesn’t that make more sense?

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