Today, I want to share with you four people’s interesting thoughts on learning music theory.
I found some of these rather fascinating.
“If I was 40 years younger, I probably would look at theory, but at my age now I’m not that interested in theory or playing lead, I basically just want to learn songs.” – Ian
If just being able to pick up the guitar and play songs is something you want to do, theory can seem a little pointless.
The thing is, though, it doesn’t have to be a “cut and dry” argument when learning theory.
Some people see theory as something that you either go all in with or don’t do at all.
Both of those thoughts are a BIG mistake.
In fact, when it comes to theory, a little goes a long way and can help you understand, process, and learn songs faster.
…And it only takes 10 or 15 minutes of theory a few times per week to learn the useful stuff and make sense of it.
Okay, next comment…
“I started back taking guitar lessons 3 years ago and my teacher has been very patiently sneaking in theory. I’m surprised he hasn’t killed me yet!
We have good lessons and we have horrible-horrendous-what-the-heck-are-you-thinking lessons.
But this Irish folk/soft rock/acoustic player has been learning classical pieces (on my steel string guitar – oh the pain!) and I think some of it is starting to stick. And all of it is making me a better player when I’m doing the songs I love.” – Caroline
Ha, it certainly sounds like Caroline’s teacher is pushing her hard!
That can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing.
…But if she’s still going to lessons, enjoying them, and seeing the benefits (which she does) then it sounds like the teacher just about has the right balance.
I just hope he’s keeping it fun and relevant because that’s the key to the theory game.
Okay, next comment…
“Many years ago I discovered modal chords after 40 plus years of playing. Changed the way I constructed solos. Always something new to learn.” – Anon.
Yes, modal stuff is good BUT only when you are truly ready for it.
I.e., like this fella who learnt it after 40 years of playing!
Don’t let anyone try to force-feed you this advanced stuff until YOU are ready for it.
That’s one of the worst things I see theory-loving teachers do out there and it is pretty much never in the student’s best interest!
“Musical theory is exponential in a way and learning it, I’ve found, can have two effects. One: frustrated boredom, and two: fascination as to the simplicity of it, and at the same time, the complexity of it.
I find theory very compelling and, even though I don’t play much these days, I still play scales in order, minors in order and modals. It helps with the old grey matter too at my age.” – Richard.
Yeah, that’s another good thing about theory…
It’s like brain training that is actually useful.
I’ve always joked with students that those braining training apps and games that were especially popular a few years ago are okay, but us guitarists don’t need them.
We have our own brain training when learning guitar!
I hope you found those thoughts useful.
For me, the bottom line is that theory is super useful when learnt correctly.
That’s because it helps with understanding music (which can help with memorising things), and it can help you spot patterns (which is useful for learning other songs faster).
If simple, useful, and practical theory interests you, you may want to check out the Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy.
Inside, you’ll learn about the practical side of guitar playing with the lessons AND all members get my theory book posted out as a free gift for joining.
Having the book as a real paperback is useful because you can leave it on the coffee table and pick it up here and there to read.
That’s a powerful way of learning theory in chunks without you feeling overwhelmed.
Here’s the link to find out more about the membership:
Have a great day of practice!
P.S. Here’s a good comment from DTAA member Bert, who said this the other day:
“Hi Dan. I got my free “Guitarists get Theory” book yesterday. Thank you very much, I’ve been browsing through it yesterday and it is awesome and very helpful in understanding keys, cords, scales, etc.
I’ve never seen a book that describes those principles in such easy-to-understand words.
I’ll have to go through it a few more times, but this book is certainly very helpful in my better understanding of the topic.
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.