Harmony & Theory

As musicians learning the instrument, we often get bits and pieces of information along the way from many different sources such as friends showing a lick or two, a book or video perhaps, a teacher or self-discovery or by ear from a recording. Then we spend a lot of time trying to make sense of those bits of information and the result usually is lots of holes in our understanding. It’s no fun being stuck.

I have talked to thousands of guitar players over the years and many tell me they’re tired of playing the same old things over and over and long to become better guitar players. Well I’m here to tell you what the solution is…learning Harmony and Theory…now I know many of you will cringe at that, but I’m here to tell that it can actually be fun.I also always say that, if you can count to 13, that’s as hard as the math is for learning Harmony and Theory…that’s not hard right?

There’s a couple of false notions that I’d like to shine a light on that many folks think is the result of learning Harmony and Theory…and I’m here to blow those notions right up. The first…”If I learn all this Harmony and Theory I’ll lose my feel”….all I can say to that is hahahahahahahahahahahna….wrong! The second is “If I learn all this Harmony and Theory I will end up playing Jazz”…and all I can say to that is hahahahahaha….wrong. My greatest piece of advice I can give you is…those two notions are false.

Here’s why. Feel is your soul, your emotions and your life experience and no matter what you play, feel will never leave you! It’s built in to the human experience. Playing Jazz is a choice and not a result of learning Harmony and Theory. Simply by changing one’s attitude to learning Harmony and Theory and thinking of all this wonderful new information as purely that….information or…even better as…colours! Imagine yourself as an artist with a giant colour palette to work with to paint and express your ideas without limiting yourself to just a few colours…doesn’t that sound like a better approach. There are so many colours to choose from…and to end the analogy there, also, there’s so many musical colours to choose from. Information and colours are NOT a “style” for example Jazz, Blues, Rock or Reggae or R&B etc. etc. I’m encouraging you to be open to the possibilities. Harmony and Theory is only going to help you become a better player, surely that is a noble aim? This is the way my dear fellow guitar players….and remember, if you can count to 13, and I’m quite sure you can all do that, that’s as hard as the math is. To understand Harmony and Theory is a LOT easier than the application of Harmony and Theory…but even a basic understanding of it will rocket you forward. Trust me on this one because I have seen the results happen over and over again.

I hope I have encouraged you all enough to “remain open” to the possibilities of the study of Harmony and Theory with the ultimate goal of self-improvement, and happiness. As with all things in life, it’s the journey and not the destination. If we stop learning we stop living.

My best wishes always,
Frank Gambale

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