Lessons Overview

These lessons not only cover the basics of music theory from a guitarist's point of view, they also cover many higher level concepts that will help you to become a much better guitarist and a better improviser. These lessons are intended for those who already know how to play some guitar, but don't know the theory behind it - those who would like to get a better understanding of the language of intervals, scales, and chords, and how these three components of music relate to each other.

These lessons build on each other which is how music theory almost always works. What this implies is that you need a strong understanding of the basics and that's why I start at the beginning and move forward from there. Essentially, one must work with the building blocks of music (intervals and scales) before one can move on to higher level concepts (chords, diatonic harmony, and modes).

Now here's a little secret... if you're patient with yourself and really take the time to explore and understand the lessons on intervals, then everything else will fall into place. Really.

While these lessons are not a complete course in guitar playing and music theory, they are very thorough. In fact, I have no doubt that they will help you to form a strong foundation from which you can grow and evolve musically. These lessons are perfect for those interested in attending music school and want an advantage going into their first year of college. These lessons are also perfect for those who wish they had attended music school, but were never able to get there.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

I can't stress this enough... you have to practice! It is so important to apply this stuff to your playing within a musical context. If you can't find people to play with, then record yourself and jam to your recordings. If you don't have a recording device then play along with records. If you don't have any records then you might want to ask yourself why you want to play the guitar to begin with. Maybe you just want to "impress the ladies", (read my lesson on Pentatonic scales, Lesson 9) or maybe you just want to have fun and learn the instrument as a kind of hobby, both are perfectly valid reasons for playing.

In addition, if you have a clear idea what your musical goals are, at least to a certain extent - what songs you want to play, who your favorite guitar player is, etc., this will help to keep you focused and, hopefully, help to keep you inspired as well. As you probably already suspect, striving towards a worthy goal has many positive benefits, so take some time to think about what it is you want to accomplish with the guitar - both in the long run and short-term. That is, it's good to have a lofty long term goal and a bunch of attainable little goals that will help you get there. In short, make it a goal to play like your favorite guitar heros, but try not to get discouraged if things seem like they're not progressing as quickly as you would like. But remember, you can't cook rice without fire.

That is, you need to put in the work if you want to get better. This idea sounds simple enough, but we sometimes forget this notion from time to time. Remember, there's no point in getting discouraged if you're not willing to put in the work. However, if you are putting in the work, then be patient with yourself. Don't judge yourself on a daily basis, judge yourself on a monthly time-frame. Remember... perseverance furthers and patience is its own reward.

Keep This In Mind As You Progress

If you're just going through these lessons without playing any music or if you're finding yourself becoming bored, a symptom of not being creative, then you're basically robbing yourself of the whole point of the journey which is simply to make music, or rather, good music.

Take your time as you progress through these lessons. It takes a long time to become a good guitar player - a lifetime to become a great one. Pace yourself and really take the time to throughly explore the playing exercises in these lessons for that's the only way you'll really understand this stuff - you need to apply it!!!

You can be creative and musical at any stage in the game. How? By learning how to listen well. Listening is perhaps the most important part of being a musician. One needs to cultivate aesthetic sensitivity and awareness. A sense of wonder. One should strive towards being tasteful and soulful, but one also needs to learn how to challenge beauty.

Constrast creates balance and balance creates variety which lends itself to creating interesting ideas. If you lack these artistic elements in your playing, it doesn't matter how good of a guitar technician you become, you won't sound musical. And that's a real drag. So, remember to... strive for musicality.

Final Words

In addition to these lessons I recommend that you find yourself a good teacher if you're just starting out. That can save you a lot of time and frustration - especially if you're an absolute beginner. A good teacher can take you a long way, but ultimately, the best teacher you can find is the one you see when you look in the mirror.

Be sure to read the "topics covered" description for each lesson as most lesson names are too broad a title to accurately reflect a lesson's contents. I assure you that most lessons are jam-packed with information. In fact, you may find yourself overwhelmed at times. When this happens, just slow down and be patient with yourself.

Being overwhelmed is most likely an indication that your head is "temporarily full" and/or that you're going too quickly. When this happens you need to do a few things:

  1. Slow down. Review previous ideas/lessons to make sure that you really understand them before moving forward.

  2. Focus on integrating familiar concepts into your playing rather than trying to learn new ideas. You can never play enough.

  3. Take a break - go for a walk or do some yoga, then come back to the guitar after you've had some time to "unwind" a little and when you're feeling "fresh". Remember, learning a musical instrument takes many years. Please be patient with yourself.
With all that said... you should be fine.

Oh, there's one thing I forgot to mention. Assume a good posture when you play. In short, don't slouch. If you sit with a straight back and relaxed belly, you'll be in a better state of mind - you'll be able to accomplish more. I know this may sound strange, but awareness of your posture and the tension in your body is critical to establishing health and good technique on the instrument.