Learn to Play Songs on Guitar
Are You Learning to Play Songs or Learning to Play Guitar?
There is a constant battle over how you learn to play the guitar. Technique versus music (songs). There are many people who play guitar for the purpose of learning songs by other artists and then there are people who focus on technique and theory-based approaches to actually learn how to play the guitar. When you take guitar lessons you are not only learning the guitar via technique and music theory, you also learn to play those songs you want to learn.
Many students learn to play a few songs but have no understanding of what they are doing and they feel like they’ve hit a brick wall. This is very common for those who are self-taught. Students who try to teach themselves typically do not possess the knowledge of what technical material needs to be covered. Instead, they learn what they want to learn, regardless of difficulty and this can create inefficient practicing and playing habits that are often very difficult to break.
This doesn’t mean that students should play only technical material such as an endless array of scales but as they develop, they need to incorporate technique and theory into their practice. The basic techniques a student should learn are scales, chords, and arpeggios. This can seem daunting and dull but there are basic fundamentals that can make playing and learning the guitar so much easier.
Music that is written for performance doesn’t take into account the technical building blocks that are needed for guitar students to learn in a logically based musical and technical progression. This is where the help of a qualified guitar instructor can really help.
What can be done so that students can play the music they want and build a strong technical foundation? Taking guitar lessons is a great approach. A good guitar teacher can analyze a song a student wants to learn, arrange it so that it is playable at a student’s current technical level, and then develop exercises to aid in playing that song.
In addition to song-based exercises, there are three important technical aspects that every musician should understand, scales, chords, and arpeggios. Scales are the building blocks of a song’s melody. For playing solos, they are invaluable. Understanding scales will also help in building chords and arpeggios. Many self-taught guitarists get in the endless rut of playing the major and minor pentatonic patterns, which becomes a very clichéd sound. The pentatonic scale is simply a five-note scale, so why not just learn the whole thing?
Chords are simply combining notes together from scales. There are many different approaches to how chords can be learned, but they need to be learned and understood. There are so many songs that have the same or similar chord progressions. Understanding how chords and their progressions work will allow students to learn a song much faster. When applied, the student is learning not just to play the guitar, but learning music itself.
Arpeggios are just chords, but how they are played is a special technique in itself. The left hand playing single notes and the right hand strumming a chord is such a great technique builder. It is so important to work on these. Combining technical and musical efforts in a logical progression is the best way to become a great guitarist.