Why learning music theory is useful for playing guitar

Song sheet music guitar

When learning guitar, you may not think music theory is important. If you want to become a well-rounded musician, this will be useful for you.  

Here are some reasons why you need it when learning the guitar.

Understanding the language of music

By learning music theory, you will understand the language of music. You won't grasp music without some theory behind you. It's useful to understand how the notes relate to each other.

Learning music as a guitar player

You need an understanding of chord and scale construction. And be able to understand the key signature of a song. These are fundamental concepts that you will learn by taking a class in music theory.

If your guitar teacher isn't teaching you this, and it's hindering your progress. Then you should definitely ask. 

Communicate with other musicians

If you learn music theory, you'll have better conversations with other musicians.

Women playing music together at home

You want to be able to explain music to other musicians. By having a solid foundation in music theory, this makes it easier to discuss music. You’ll have the communication skills you need to be a well-rounded musician.

Read sheet music

By being exposed to music theory, you will get the opportunity to read sheet music.

And that's something a lot of guitarists end up not ever learning.  

If you want to play guitar more seriously. Where in situations you might be given standard notation. Then music theory will be helpful for you. 

And as you get a wider range of music. A lot of music isn't written in standard guitar tablature. There is a lot of music out there written in standard notation. If you want to be able to play it, you need some music theory behind you. 

Understand what you are playing

By having a grasp of music theory, you'll understand what you're playing. You'll know the chords, scales, and other elements of the songs you're learning.

This also makes it easier to learn new songs.

repertoire of songs learning guitar for beginners

You will have an understanding of how a song is put together. For example, you'll know the chords in the key of C major, A major, and so on.

You will know what scales go with what chords and how they relate to each other.

You feel more confident with other instruments

If you ever decide to play another instrument, you'll have the basic understanding to help you. Music theory is the same for all instruments as it doesn't change.

girl playing ukulele guitar

You will have to learn to play that new instrument, but the music foundation will be there.

This makes it easy to move back and forth between instruments. You will have the foundation of the universal music language.

Improvisation on Guitar

Say someone asked you to jam in G major. Would you know what to play?

When you have a grasp of music theory, it makes improvisation and jamming easier. You can get together with any musician and start playing.

If they are playing in a certain key, you will know what to play in that key. You won't have to fumble around on your guitar because you know the notes you should be playing in that key.

Fretboard memorisation 

When you grasp music theory you can memorise the fretboard a lot easier. You’ll understand why the note are laid out the way they are on your guitar.

Notes on fretboard guitar music theory beginner

It makes it easier to pick notes out on your guitar and play them. You will have a grasp of the relationships between those notes. The notes on your guitar won't seem so confusing to you once you grasp some theory.

Conclusion

You can get by without learning music theory. And this happens a lot to musicians who learn on their own.

However, by learning these concepts. You will be a more rounded and confident musician. 

With that, you will have the skills necessary to play with other people. You won't be second-guessing yourself when it comes to creating your own music.

One of the best skills you can learn as a guitar player, is theory.

Try to get a basic foundation in these concepts. We've got a cool guide "Understanding music for beginner guitarists". This should help you get started even if you have no previous knowledge on music theory. 

Most guitar teachers will be incorporating it into your lessons. (Or they should)  

If you are based in East London, looking for Guitar Lessons that will help you understand music. Rather than just copying songs from the internet. 

Then get in touch with us and find out how we can help: