I receive this question this week and I realized many adult learners may have the same thoughts. Ray inspired me to create this video.
I'll defer to your superior knowledge as a long time instructor and guitar player that you are, indeed, correct in your assertion that learning theory in lieu of learning songs is the superior route (and as a novice even I would agree), particularly if one's intent is to become a professional performer, composer or a teacher.
Learning theory would also be invaluable if one merely wants to take a piece of music and arrange it into a guitar instrument. However, at my tender age of 65 I don't have time to learn theory, for obvious reasons. I could contract debilitating arthritis, a heart attack or cancer at any moment. Hence, my urgency to become reasonably competent playing guitar by learning songs is my goal.
P.S. So how about teaching some guitar instruments in the genre of your expertise which I suspect is classical/Flamenco? I'd be willing to pay money for that, by golly.
Thanks for your email. I’m sorry the lesson I was trying to get across was not clear. I would never recommend learning theory first. That would be like learning English grammar before talking.
The point I was trying to get across is that it’s more efficient to work on exercises that teach a specific technique than trying to just learn one song after the other. There’s nothing wrong with learning songs, but there is a much faster way to learn guitar.
The basic idea is to isolate specific elements that the student need improvement on, practice exercises that focus on that element, then integrate it into a song.
This is a technique I use over and over in my membership program Real Guitar Success. I break elements down to short exercises that have you put them together into longer patterns and songs. In addition to show you how to recognize specific patterns that you can use over and over to play many songs. This is much more efficient than looking at every song at the individual learning experience. Learn patterns, then apply them over and over.
Learning bar chords is a great example. Many beginners try to tackle bar chords head on and get frustrated. It's much better to break the process down into steps.
Thanks again for taking the time to email me. I’m going to revise and clarify that email for future students. I hope this explanation has been enlightening.
Take care Raymond,
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