Learning music theory is like learning grammar. Knowledge of grammar helps us to use a language correctly. Similarly, knowledge of music theory enables us to understand, create and play music in a much better way. A lot of times, people assume that music theory is dull and is all about formulas.  This discourages them from attempting to learn it. But in reality, the knowledge of music theory is a very useful tool to have at one's disposal. You will be able to understand and transcribe music which will allow you to read and play music just as the composer had intended. Some of the most important topics that you should cover while learning guitar music theory are:

  • Chromatic Scale
  • Intervals and Frets
  • The Major Scale
  • The Minor Scale
  • Major and Minor Chords
  • Major Key Chord Formula
  • Minor Key Chord Formula
  • Chord Progressions

There are plenty of books available on the subject. They will take you through every aspect of music theory and strengthen your fundamental knowledge of the subject. Pick any book and give it a go. You'll soon get to see the positive influence it will have on your guitar-playing abilities.

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Studying theoretical concepts will help to improve your guitar playing skills. | Source: pixabay.com
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Benefits of Studying Music Theory

Knowing music theory is important if you want to become a well-rounded musician. While learning to play guitar, you may question the need to learn music theory. After all, knowing to play the instrument should be enough. But it is not so. Music theory will introduce you to the fundamental blocks that are used to make music like chords, scales, notes, etc. Knowing them will benefit you in the following ways:

Improved Communication

Knowledge of music theory will help you to understand the work of other musicians regardless of the instrument they play. It can be thought of as the language of music. Just like knowing a language allows you to communicate ideas clearly, knowing music theory will help you to understand musicians better. If you are playing guitar in a band, you have to be on the same page as your team members.  Your understanding of music theory will make your job a lot easier while working on collaborative projects.

Playing Unknown Chords

Learning how to play chords on different scales is a major task for new guitar players. Even after years of practice, you may stumble upon unknown chords. But if you study music theory, you'll get to know that every chord is based on a formula. So if you know how that formula works, you'll be able to build and play any chord, even if you haven't played it before, provided you have a thorough understanding of scales and the notes of the fretboard.

Creating Harmony

Unless you have a good understanding of scales, you will not be able to build and play unknown chords.  Chords are based on scales and so an in-depth understanding of scales is important. Understanding harmony, chord progressions, melodies as well as other key elements are dependent on your understanding and knowledge of scales.

Making Music

If you can play the instrument well, you may be able to make using through trial and error. But knowledge of music theory will give you a strong command of the fundamentals which will help you to approach music-making in a  far more professional way. To make music, it's a good thing to study the works of other composers. And to be able to do that, you need to be able to transcribe music which can happen only if you have a good understanding of theoretical concepts.  The purpose of music theory is to enable you to understand why a particular piece of music sounded the way it did and how it can be replicated again.

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Your learning can progress more quickly if you take lessons from a teacher. | Source: pixabay.com

Books on Modern Music Theory

There are many books on music theory, authored by experienced and reputed guitarists. Their books reflect the wealth of knowledge gained from years of experience. The books cover all important aspects of music theory like how chords are formed, how musical scales are constructed, how chord progressions are played, what are the modes of major scales etc. Theoretical knowledge of these topics will improve your guitar-playing techniques.

One of the most prominent writers of guitar music theory is Joseph Alexander. For more than 20 years he has been a guitarist and expert music tutor. He has authored several books which are available in multiple languages and has a wide readership. His recent books contain very up-to-date material on music theory that helps guitarists to dissolve the barriers between learning theory and playing guitar. He has written over 30  guitar guides and also publishes works of upcoming music writers. Some of the popular books on music theory composed by him and others that you can look up are:

  • The Practical Guide To Modern Music Theory For Guitarists by Joseph Alexander
  • Hal Leonard’s Music Theory For Guitarists by Tom Kolb
  • The Guitarist’s Music Theory Book by Peter Vogl
  • Guitar Theory for Dummies by Desi Serna
  • The Circle of Fifths for Guitarists by Joseph Alexander
  • No Bull Music Theory for Guitarists: Master the Essential Knowledge All Guitarists Need to Know
    by James Shipway
These books contain in-depth musical information with over 200 exercises and examples. Going through them will help you internalize and master the most important concepts in modern guitar playing.

Ways to Learn

While you can always try to study theories on your own by going through the books just like you can pick up guitar-playing techniques by watching videos on YouTube, you may not be able to master everything on your own. You can always take help from an experienced mentor who can teach you both technical and theoretical aspects involved in playing guitar.

Find good guitar lessons here on Superprof.

sheet music
You will be able to transcribe music if study theory. | Source: pixabay.com

A lot of professional guitarists offer classes to beginners where along with teaching students how to play the instrument, they also teach them musical concepts. If you enroll in a music school instead of taking private tutorials, you will be taught how to play the instrument as well as essential concepts of music to enrich your understanding of the subject. The benefits of having a mentor are:

Ready Assistance

There will always be help around. Anytime you are stuck with something, you can get your mentor to help you out. That way you will be able to make quick progress without wasting time in figuring it all out.

Source of Encouragement

Self-learning can become tedious after a while.  Without anyone around to encourage and support, you might feel like giving up after a while. With a teacher around to motivate you, learning is bound to be more effective.  Also, weekly lessons with your mentor will ensure that learning happens on a routine basis. Staying motivated is key to becoming a successful musician. And taking lessons with a teacher will keep you on track.

Acquiring Correct Techniques

When you self-learn, there is nobody around to correct you when you go wrong. You have to depend a lot on guesswork which may not be ideal as you may end up learning incorrect techniques. Watching a video on YouTube might show you how to do something, but if it doesn't work out for you, nobody will be there to help you out. The teacher will be able to point out areas of improvement. With proper feedback and guidance, your ability to produce the right sound will radically improve.

Goal-oriented Learning

Learning at every stage has to be goal-oriented. Whether you are a beginner or at the intermediated level, you should work towards achieving a particular goal. It's not very easy to decide what you should work on next. If you take guitar lessons, this will no longer be your problem. Your teacher will know exactly what you need to learn at each stage like which is the most appropriate song for you based on your skill level. A teacher will also have a structured lesson plan in place which will comprise a healthy mix of theoretical study, playing songs on the guitar, practicing scales, and other exercises that will push you to continuously improve.

To be a well-rounded musician studying concepts in addition to learning how to play your instrument is important. If your want a private tutor to help you with your lessons, you can visit portals like Superprof to find the best guitar classes for beginners near me. You will find teachers from all over the country who are offering guitar classes. If you are waiting to start this journey, now's the time to take the first step!

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.