If you play the guitar, you may feel as if you’re learning to play the instrument over and over again each time you want to master a new song. Or, if you feel comfortable, you can’t play a song unless the tab is right there for you to read from. Or maybe you feel you’re a good player, but you’re incapable of writing your own stuff or even improvising. If this is the case, then what you have missed is music theory. This is exactly why any good guitarist should consider taking music theory classes online.
Why Music Theory Matters
If you want to learn how to play an instrument, but you don’t want to learn about the theory, you will fail. Similarly, you can’t learn a new language without learning at least something about its grammar. Sure, you may be able to make yourself understandable, but you will never come across as a native. This is the same with an instrument. No, you don’t have to be able to explain the theory behind the Phrygian-Dominant scale. In fact, you don’t even have to know how to play it. But if you don’t even know what a scale is, then it is unlikely that you will ever be a good guitar player.
What Is Music Theory?
Music theory is about understanding what music’s most common patterns are, where they have come from, and why they sound good. All music is, is a pattern. Pick any song, for instance, and you will see that it can be reduced to just three chords on any guitar. That is a pattern that any good musician needs to know about, not in the least because it will mean that if you see the opening chord of a new song, you will instantly know which other two chords you will have to play.
Naturally, you can play the guitar, even quite well, by simply practicing the same song over and over again until you have memorized it forever. However, this is a battle you will then have to go through with every new song you learn. The theory of music is the language of music. If someone were to say something in Chinese to you, with the right amount of practice and patients, you will be able to repeat it and sound as if you are Chinese yourself. But you will never know what it means, unless you learn about that.
You should see music as a form of language, because it is. It is designed to make us feel certain things and certain ways, which is what language has been designed to do. And if you want to learn how to understand or speak a language, then you have to immerse yourself in it. That doesn’t mean going into the etymology of the last 10,000 years, but it is about understanding the key developments at each historically significant point. And the exact same is true for music as well.