More Than A Theory: Why You Should Understand Music Fundamentals On Guitar

Over the years of my playing guitar and taking guitar lessons, I have noticed that many guitarists tend to not learn basic fundamentals of music which is a shame since just understanding a few basics can easily solve many problems that guitar players face on a regular basis. The problem is that many guitarists just assume that theory isn’t needed and continue to struggle with not knowing how to fix simple issues. The following addresses some common occurrences and how to remedy them.

3 Benefits Of Learning Music Theory

Locating Notes So Finding Scales And Chords Is Easier

In bands I’ve been in, usually the other guitarist would always explain power chords to me as “Alright, play a power chord on the 7th fret of this string, then move to the 5th fret of this string…”.  I got so aggravated by this I just looked at the guy and said “You sunk my battleship…”. He didn’t find that funny. Instead it’s much easier when trying to explain just to say “The chord progression is E, D, B, A, and we’re playing them with power chords”. Being able to do this helps to save a lot of time, especially when you are trying to learn several hours worth of music. This also helps when you are trying to play a specific scale.

Keeping Track of Ideas That You Come Up With

Have you ever written a part of a song on your guitar and then woke up the next day with no idea how to replay the idea that you came up with? I have and it sucks. While guitar isn’t the best with standard notation when it comes to writing out at solos, using tablature and understanding rhythmic notation is a lifesaver when it comes to keeping track of what you write. Plus it’s easy to go from tablature into standard notation if you ever needed another instrument to play the part you created.

Eliminating Guesswork

Imagine this, you’re sitting with a few friends, everyone has their guitar, and you start jamming. One of the players is playing a chord progression and it’s your turn to play a solo. Do you know what to do? What if the chord progression changes and the scale you are currently playing no longer fits? What if you’re supposed to play rhythm guitar, can you play something aside from the basic chords? Can you create a rhythmic part that fits and creates a complementary sound over what everyone else is playing? Understanding theory helps to solve all of those problems.

There are many other reasons to learn music theory. Theory can help you to improve your improvisations skills, songwriting capabilities, and just your ability to communicate with other musicians. If you find this is an area you struggle in and would like help, you should seek out a skilled guitar teacher for lessons on this topic.

Joshua LeBlanc is the owner and lead instructor at Lafayette School of Guitar. If you are interested in guitar lessons and live in the Lafayette, LA area visit to learn more about getting started.