Whenever I meet a student for the first time I ask them a few questions:
Why do you want to learn to play the guitar?
What is your favourite type of music?
Who are your favorite artists/bands?
Do you want to be a musician or do you just want to learn to play songs?
The last question always baffles them.
The answer is”Yes, there is a huge gap… to me anyway.”
If a student just wants to learn how to play songs 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 hear it. This method is quite productive in them learning to play the tunes 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 prefer this method want rapid results and do not mind not knowing any music theory. Their goal is to simply play tunes and have fun. I, also, have a good deal of fun teaching them. One of the reasons I like this process is that I do not have to go into heavy music theory details.
For those who need to be serious musicians my approach is different. We build up a repertoire of tunes slowly, but they know each and every detail about music – reading, theory, scales, Copper City Wildlife Removal, chords, arpeggios, improvisation etc.
This method is highly involved and instructs the student how to think as a musician, the way to listen like 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 colors, they’ll be able to pick up any piece of music, read it and play it.
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 is about understanding what a chord is by just listening to it.
I absolutely love this method. In as much as I teach my pupils I understand so much as well each time I go over the material.
Thus, in my estimation, there is a massive difference between just learning how to play songs and becoming a musician. One is not better than the other. The end goal is merely different. Which one would you choose?