Music Theory Lessons & Guitar Theory Lessons.
Music theory and guitar theory are basically one and the same thing.
“Guitar theory” is the study of music theory applied to a guitar neck.
Music theory is an explanation of how things work in music, and why things work the way they do.
Since theory is an explanation of something based on data (or assumptions) acquired by observations: The music came first.
The explanation (the theory) comes after the music.
Learning Music Theory Grows Musical Appreciation
Understanding music theory, grows one’s appreciation for music.
It’s probably a bit ironic that the belief that “knowing too much about music, might kill or undo its magic”, is usually only expressed by people who never learned any music theory in the first place.
(I could never figure out if the couple of people in my life who uttered that statement: truly believed it, or if this was an easy cop-out or an excuse not to have to put in the study time.)
Either way and not that it matters…
For those of us who delve into the study of music: we know that, on the contrary, learning more about music only deepens the magic.
For every door we unlock and open, 10 new exciting doors show up in front of us. Those gateways to a deeper understanding of the cool maze of musical elements all interacting with one another, lead to an enrichment of our sonic color palette.
Is Music Theory Hard and Scary?
Well, the good news is that it isn’t rocket science! 🙂
However: in my 20+ years of teaching, I have worked with students who really wanted to cover music theory, but who came to lessons with a “music theory is hard” bias.
One of the problems with a negative belief system is that it perpetuates the problem like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The more one thinks or beliefs that something is going to be very hard to understand, the less one understands.
It’s like someone is setting herself up for failure from the start.
A good way to explain the psychology behind this:
If you believe that something is very hard, you will as a result automatically over-think the teacher’s explanation, or search too far and too deep into things, rather than take the explanation at face value. The thought process is that: “it must be more complicated than the teacher’s explanation… because, after all: “music theory is hard”.
This results in overcomplicating things in the mind, trying to find extra connections that are not there, or trying to find extra meaning where there is none.
In other words: people who think something is hard, often end up confusing themselves with their own learning strategies and thought processes.
Why do some people have this belief system about music theory?
One of THE main reasons why some people have this “music theory is hard” bias, is that 9 out of 10 times, they have studied with a teacher who didn’t explain it well. This happens when the teacher doesn’t know about learning styles or doesn’t break the material into small enough sections, doesn’t use enough repetition in his explanation, has inadequate communication skills, or inadequate handouts, or doesn’t master what he is teaching about on a deep enough level himself.
I’m glad to tell you that every student I ever had, including students with strong beliefs about music theory possibly being hard, has always been surprised by how easily they grasped it all.
Music theory is actually fairly easy: it just needs to be explained well.
We Teach Absolutely EVERYTHING About Music Theory!
The sky is the limit. Our vast guitar and music curriculum, containing thousands of high-quality print-ready pages, cover everything music theory including application and exercises on guitar.
If you really want to know the workings of music: we got you covered!
However: we don’t impose! That’s the beauty of private instruction: your lessons can be anything you want them to be.
We are not going to tell a student who expressed a desire to learn Bob Dylan songs, that he/she should really learn music theory to understand what Bob is doing.
That would be silly.
We only work on music theory with people who really would love to learn it.
If you belong to that group of people, the following list is a brief selection of what the study of music theory covers.
- Melody: the study of melody
- Scales: there are (only) 2048 scales in music. We have them all mapped out for you. This is every scale, used in every culture, on the planet.
- Harmony: the study of chords. (A vast study including intervals, triads, inversions, closed voicings, drop voicings, tensions, and much more)
- Rhythm: the study of rhythm
- Styles: the study of specific musical styles and stylistic elements.
- Improvisation: the whole study of playing guitar solos.
- Expression: how to really make your guitar speak, how to find your voice, improve your phrasing.
- The whole study of arpeggios
- Line Cliches
- Modal Interchange Chords
- Secondary dominants
- How chords and scales interact
- Jazz comping
- The 2 most common song forms: the blues forms and rhythm changes.
- Song analysis
- Song Writing: applying all the above + learning about song form, and so on.
- Stage Performance
- Time feel development
- Ethnic rhythms and soloing styles.
- Pentatonic substitution
- Chord soloing
- Triad Substitution
- Tritone Substition
- … and much more.
Is this overwhelming?
Well, you might not necessarily need to learn all of the above, depending on your musical goals and favorite style of music.
In addition: all you need to focus on is that one next step. One step at a time, before you know it, you advanced a huge distance.
Is learning theory “necessary”?
Not if you just want to learn songs. It all depends on what your goals are.
Jimi Hendrix for example didn’t know all that much about theory. It didn’t hold him back though from doing amazing things on guitar.
The thing is: one will never truly know, how much better Jimi would or could have even been or how much richer his music might have been if he’d had a stronger grasp of music’s inner workings.
Jimi must have realized and understood that too, because not only did he feel terribly insecure in the presence of other musicians, he was also talking to Miles Davis to study music theory with Miles.
If you are as driven as Jimi to become really good at understanding music…