Why do you want to learn to play the guitar?
What’s your favourite kind of music?
Who would be your favourite artists/bands?
Do you want to be a musician or do you just want to learn to play songs?
The previous question constantly baffles them. The frequent response to this question is,”Is there a difference?”
The solution is”Yes, there’s a massive difference… to me anyway.”
If a student just wants to learn to play tunes then I find the songs they enjoy, work it out in different keys and then teach them the chords and anything else that they need to play the song exactly the way they listen to it. This method is quite productive in them learning to play the songs they love and in building a repertoire extremely fast. In a year a number of my pupils 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 simply play songs and have fun. I, also, have a lot of fun teaching them. One reason I like this process is that I do not have to enter heavy music theory details.
For those who need to be serious musicians my approach differs. We develop a repertoire of songs slowly, but they know every single detail about music – reading, theory, scales, chords, arpeggios, improvisation etc.
This procedure is highly involved and instructs the student how to think like a musician, the way to listen as a musician and how to do like a musician. By the end of these courses the student can walk into any test and pass with flying colours, they’ll have the ability to pick up any piece of music, read it and play with it.
Becoming a musician is more than just the ability to get a guitar and strum chords. It is about knowing how chords work in conjunction with scales, it’s about knowing how to use chords, scales and arpeggios to improvise and create new melodies and harmonies; it is about knowing what a chord is by just listening to it.
I absolutely love this method. In as much as I teach my students I understand so much as well every time I go over the material.
So, in my estimation, there’s a huge difference between just learning how to play tunes and becoming a musician. One isn’t better than the other. The end goal is merely different. Which one would you pick?