A little theory can go a long way…

Several years ago a very good local country player came to study with me, “just to see if it would make any sense”; as my rock reputation was well known, but he had only heard of my country/bluegrass prowess either through various magazine and newspaper reviews or word-of-mouth.

We sat down and the first thing I asked him to play for me was a “banjo roll”, if indeed he had that in his repertoire of hybrid picking (pick and finger technique that ALL great country players possess). He did, and he played a smoking lick that reminded me of the late, great Danny Gatton, a friend of mine and my favorite guitarist.

I asked him if he knew what a triad was, and he replied that he had basically “zero theoretical knowledge”. I then explained this most basic of music concepts to him (a triad is the 1st, 3rd and 5th of any major scale that creates a chord). I then went on to explain that his banjo roll was a G major using these tones and that if he learned his triads all over the fretboard, he would have as many banjo rolls.

He smiled upon realization and my demonstration of several, and acted as if I had “come down the mountain with two big tablets and ten commandments in my hands”…

Needless to say, this was the beginning of many great lessons with him, and his playing skyrocketed to an entirely new level, just with a small amount of theoretical application to his already enormous skills!

As well, I used to write a monthly column for three very popular guitar magazines: two American and one that was based out of England. I found that my “technique, as a result of theory” lessons were the most popular, as expressed by literally thousands of readers, and that guitarists worldwide benefitted greatly. I even had the editor of Guitar Player Magazine (a rival of the two US trades for which I was currently writing) come up to me and personally express his praise and congratulations!

Just imagine, though, if you were studying privately how much greater these lessons would mean.

So, take the effort and realize your dreams of becoming an outstanding guitarist; study privately and know the meaning of understanding basic music principles as applied to technical and even compositional development!

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