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-by Janus Buch

Lots of people who are new to guitar wonder if they should learn music theory before playing. Some people think it’s a waste of time, while others think it’s an essential skill.

The truth is, being a good musician has no correlation to knowing music theory. It is possible to be a successful musician without ever learning a note of theory and this leads a lot of people to the conclusion, that they do not want to learn any music theory.

Some people feel that it is a waste of time, but others find that they are able to learn the complexities of music theory and eventually become amazing musicians. Whether or not you should learn music theory is completely individual. In this article I go through some of the most common arguments against learning music theory and if this applies to you, you should consider rethinking your approach to the subject.

Hendrix (or your favorite guitarist) did not understand music theory, why should I?

Jimi Hendrix is not the only successful musician that didn’t understand music theory. Indeed, many famous musicians, including Kurt Cobain, Stevie Ray Vaughan and David Bowie were self-taught and developed their own unique styles without formal training. It’s true that understanding music theory can be helpful to more fully appreciate an artist’s work, but it’s not necessary to produce great art.

But if this is your reason for not wanting to learn music theory, you are basically comparing yourself to Messi or Ronaldo aka. the best in the world at what they do. 

So if I wanna improve my soccer I may need to train something, that Messi doesn’t have to train because he is on another level than me all together. In the same way Hendrix had an amazing ear and mind to guitar connection which means, that he can play everything he hears in his head without effort. If this is the case for you, then you’re properly not reading this article anyways. But if this is NOT the case for you, you can’t simply copy paste what your favorite guitarist is doing if you wanna improve yourself. 

You should not bother learning music theory if you are happy and satisfied with your guitar playing

The same logic applies for music theory as well as instruments. You should not bother learning music theory if you are happy and satisfied with your guitar playing skills because that will just take up your time on something that you don’t have an interest in rather than improving your guitar skills which is what you want to do in the first place.

If you are not totally satisfied with you guitar playing however, music theory can be a way out of the guitar playing rut you find yourself in 

Do you really don’t want to learn music theory on guitar or are you just being lazy?

Learning guitar theory is not as hard as it sounds and can help you improve your playing. Music theory doesn’t just apply to classical music, but also rock, jazz, metal, blues and more. Understanding the theory behind it will not only make you a better musician but also make you appreciate the songs you listen to on an even deeper level.

If you look deep within yourself, make sure you are not rejecting to learn music theory because you are being lazy or out of fear. If this is the case, find a good guitar teacher who can help you.

About the Author: 

Janus Buch is guitar teacher in Vejle. I teach songs and play music for everyone from children to adults. I have years experience with guitar and teach both electric and acoustic guitar.