Do You Want to Be a Musician or Do You Just Want to Learn to Play Songs?

Person Playing Sun Burst Electric Bass Guitar in Bokeh Photography

Why would you like to learn to play the guitar?
What is your favourite kind of music?
Who would be your favorite artists/bands?
Do you want to be a musician or do you just want to learn to play songs?
The last question constantly baffles them.
The solution is”Yes, there is a huge gap… to me anyway.”

If a student just wants to learn to play songs then I find the songs that they enjoy, work it out in various keys and then teach them the chords along with anything else that they need to play the song exactly the way they hear it. This method is quite productive in them learning to play the tunes they love and in building a repertoire very fast. In a year a number of my students have learnt between 30 and 50 songs.

I find that the students who favour this method want rapid results and don’t mind not knowing any music theory. Their goal is to just play tunes and have fun. I, too, have a good deal of fun teaching them. One of the reasons I like this method is that I don’t need to go into heavy music theory details.

For those who need to be serious musicians my approach is different. We develop a repertoire of tunes slowly, but they know every single detail about music – reading, theory, scales, chords, arpeggios, improvisation etc.

This procedure is highly involved and teaches the student how to think as a musician, how to listen like a musician and how to do as a musician. By the end of the courses the student can walk into any exam and pass with flying colors, they will be able to pick up any piece of music, browse it and play it.

Becoming a musician is more than just the ability to get a guitar and strum chords. It is about understanding how chords work in conjunction with scales, it’s about understanding how to use scales, chords and arpeggios to improvise and create new melodies and harmonies; it’s about knowing what a chord is simply listening to it.

I absolutely love this method. In as much as I teach my students I learn so much as well every time I go over the material.

So, in my estimation, there is a huge difference between just learning to play tunes and becoming a musician. One is not better than the other. The end goal is just different. Which one would you choose?

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