Do You Just Want to Learn to Play Songs?

Man Playing Guitar

Why would you like 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 only want to learn to play songs?
The previous question always baffles them. The common response to that question is,”Is there a difference?”
The solution is”Yes, there is a massive difference… to me anyway.”

If a student just wants to learn how 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 very effective in them learning to play the tunes they love and in building a repertoire very fast. In a year some of my pupils have learnt between 30 and 50 songs.

I find that the students who prefer this method want rapid results and do not mind not knowing any music theory. Their goal is to just play songs and have fun. I, also, have a lot of fun teaching them. One reason I like this method is that I do not need to enter heavy music concept details.

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

This method is highly involved and teaches the student how to think like a musician, the way to listen as a musician and how to execute like a musician. By the end of these courses the student can walk into any exam and pass with flying colours, 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’s about knowing how chords work in conjunction with scales, it is about understanding how to use chords, scales and arpeggios to improvise and create new melodies and harmonies; it’s about knowing what a chord is by just listening to it.

I absolutely love this method.

Thus, in my estimation, there is a massive difference between just learning how to play tunes and becoming a musician. One isn’t better than another. The end goal is merely different. Which one would you choose?

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