Music theory is a set of skill and musical ideas that have been used for centuries to read, write, and compose music. Students sometimes think that learning guitar theory is a waste of time. However, you will quickly learn that music theory topics are very useful to the daily practice of good guitar players.
In this article, I present 7 reasons why music theory can help you become a better guitar player.
1. Understand Chords
A lot of guitar playing has to do with chords. Knowing the right chords and how to change from one to another is a fundamental skill for any guitar player.
However, understanding chords is very difficult if you don’t know about music theory.
Music theory tell you how chords are constructed, how they are related to each other, and how to build guitar chords that sound good. To learn all this you need a deep understanding of music theory.
2. Read Music
To play music you have two options: either imitate what others are doing (listening to songs or videos) or read music.
Although imitation (also known as playing by ear) is a useful skill, you will have to learn to read sheet music to be able to play more complex songs. After a certain limit, not reading music can be a hindrance to your musical development.
By learning music theory, you’ll also learn to read music and analyze it. You can also complement this by reading guitar tabs, but reading music scores are a better way to understand music.
3. Learning Improvisation
Improvisation is a wonderful way to express yourself with the guitar. However, improving is a complex skill and requires a lot of knowledge of the relation between chords and notes.
The easiest way to learn improvisation is by practicing scales and arpeggios, two topics that are part of music theory education, and in particular guitar theory. By learning music theory, you’ll know what scales to play during each chord in a song, among other important improvisation topics.
4. Play Songs in Different Styles
Another useful skill you’ll learn with music theory, is how to learn different styles quickly. By practicing sight reading, you’ll be on your way to learn a new style quickly.
Also, many music styles are primarily written, and it useful to be able to read sheet music to acquire these new styles.
5. Learn to Modulate
Another useful skill in guitar theory is to be able to modulate. A modulation is a change in key in a song, where we move from a particular key to a second key.
Using key modulation will help you to work with songs that are more complex and that offer surprising changes to your audience.
Doing modulation requires some knowledge about how chords interact, and which techniques are available to perform this change. Guitar theory will give you the knowledge needed to understand which modulations work, and which ones don’t.
6. Learn Scales
Another important topic in theory is finding the right scale for a song.
Learning scales, you can quickly play a solo, or learn the melody of a song with much less effort. Practicing scales you also be very useful you want to improvise.
7. Learn Songs Quickly
Using all the tools available from guitar theory, you can speed up the process of learning new songs. You can use sheet music, have a good understand of chords, and know the scales used in each song.
This way, you can figure out songs much more quick and musicians who don’t have a firm grip on music theory.
Putting It All Together
It is not possible to become a top guitar player in a just a few days. However, you can make a lot of progress if you know what you want to achieve.
You need to be persistent and organized. One thing you can do is to create a practice routine, that you can work on everyday as you get better.
If you need some more ideas about how to become a guitar player, here is a list of more tips to improve your playing skills.