A foundation in music theory will change the way you process and perceive music that you hear. Developing your ear will improve your playing. Just like a great writer can get better by reading the classics, a musician can improve by listening to excellent music. To further your understanding, consider setting up a home studio and recording your own music before playing it back. As you train your ear to listen for details in the music, like what key it is in, or why a particular succession of notes sounds good, you will be training yourself to be a stronger guitar player.
The practical skills of playing the guitar are very critical. You have to know how to move your fingers along the strings if you want to nail your next solo. But there’s more to playing the guitar than building up your muscle memory. An understanding of chord construction, harmony, and keys can help you get into the songs that you are practising so that you can be a better musician. Guitarist Dylan Ryche puts it this way: “If you feel like you’re in a rut, seemingly not making progress, not sure how to go about jumping to the next level as a musician – gaining some theory knowledge could be something that kick-starts your forward momentum.”
The world’s greatest musicians know that there is a difference between playing the notes that someone else wrote down, and creating unique, expressive music. When you learn music theory, you learn how to put together melodies that flow. This can help you arrange interesting and fun solos on the fly because you’ll have an understanding of why some riffs sound better than others. An interesting study of successful contemporary musicians recently showed how important music composition is. Of the successful musicians studied, 85% wrote their own songs. This common theme among successful musicians is a clue that a young musician can use. To take your music to the next level, begin to understand music theory so that you, too, can write your songs.
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