Welcome to a new Monday post with 3 random thoughts on all things guitar, music, and life, including
Here we go…
#1 – Skipping music theory
I saw a headline from someone teaching guitar the other day titled “skip music theory”.
I didn’t click it.
It seemed like the kind of typical thing you see a lot – people telling you… you can avoid music theory completely.
Well, theory is not everyone’s cup of tea, so telling someone you can avoid theory is an easy sell.
The problem is though, rarely can you avoid music theory completely.
If you’ve played for a while, you’ll know avoiding theory totally is not really possible.
Even people who really don’t want to learn theory end up learning a little.
If you’ve ever learnt what chords are in a certain key, worked out the notes on one string, or if you know which three notes make up a G Major chord, you’ll have learnt some theory.
The problem can be, you may have learnt some theory before, been totally overwhelmed, and found you didn’t use what you learnt.
That’s common too.
The truth is though, when it comes to theory, you have two options.
You can either work things out by “trial and error”, or…
You can learn a small amount of theory, and then use it to save time down the line.
Theory becomes more useful as you develop your skills.
…Especially if you want to write songs, improvise, spice up famous songs, or create arrangements of your own.
A little theory can go a long way.
#2 – Little rewards
Archie said to me on Saturday he wanted to learn some football (soccer) skills from YouTube.
So we found a quick video of 15 skills and dribbling tricks he could do.
The sun was blazing, so we got out in the garden, and we were enjoying it.
…But when we got to #6 of 15, he wanted to give up.
…Even though he was doing really well.
So, I encouraged him to finish them off and do all 15 as I knew he’d enjoy it.
He made it to skill 15 and did some great stuff.
It was a small win for him, but I gave him lots of praise for sticking with it, an ice cream as a reward, and lots of encouragement.
There’s lots of research showing how praise, rewards, and encouragement are powerful motivators.
Now, it’s easy to use those things when it comes to our children, but how about when it comes to ourselves?
Well, with myself when I’m doing anything, I don’t tend to be as positive.
You might be the same.
A lot of people are.
With the guitar, though, it is key to remember to be encouraging toward yourself, praise yourself, and reward yourself when you achieve anything – even little goals.
The guitar is a challenging instrument, it’s key to celebrate every little “win” (maybe grab an ice cream!).
These all add up massively over time.
#3 – Kickstarter
One of the biggest issues people tell me about when they introduce themselves to me is that their “songs don’t sound like actual songs”.
I hear that a lot and I know how frustrating it can be.
Practising songs over and over for months on end without them getting better can be super frustrating.
Sometimes it may even feel like you’re going backwards with the songs.
If so, the problems aren’t to do with your talent, ability, or anything like that.
It’s nearly always some musical and/or practising habit that is causing the issues.
There’s a lot of advice out there in the world of guitar about how to play songs, but not much on how to practise them.
…And the “how to practise them” part is a big deal, of course.
To help fix this issue once and for all, I’m releasing a new lesson on Wednesday in the Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy.
It’s what I call a “Kickstarter” lesson as it’s the first video I’ll be getting new members to watch and one that will have a big impact right away – on all your playing.
In that video, I cover 7 key tips that will help fix bad habits, awkward pauses, and will make your songs sound much more musical.
You can check out the academy below…
Have a great week and a nice Memorial Day if you’re in the US.
P.S. Remember, a little theory can go a long way, reward yourself when you achieve little things, and keep on improving those bad habits. You can do it.
P.P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.