Theoretically Speaking

One topic that always seems to make its way into any musical discussion is the overall concept of Music Theory. Some believe that such knowledge is unnecessary and hinders the musician's creative process while others believe that it should be used as a "stepping stone" in building your own musical vocabulary. I am a firm believer with respect to using theory in enhancing not only your own music vocabulary but also your own particular music style. With at least some form of schooling, it will only help to broaden your musical awareness, experience, expertise and the like. Without any knowledge of such theory, you are only limiting yourself as to what you are capable of, thereby diminishing your musical promise. It is only to your benefit to go out and buy some music books, take some lessons and even attend the clinics of fellow musicians to help you along your way.

While becoming involved in this learning process, you will gather more playing opportunities, meet new people, diversify yourself and find out more about your instrument. Through experience, you'll be able to obtain a greater sense of the whole music experience by letting others influence them. In doing so, the student can develop a feel for the different types of music that he/she has yet to hear and they may even learn a few things along the way.

On the other hand, those who choose to go the other route and decide to practice on their own may not be reaching their fullest potential. They are not exposed to the different music genres that others have become accustomed to. Also, learning through books is a good way to learn... up to a point. A book cannot give you feedback as to what you're doing wrong, a book cannot adjust to your style of learning and a book probablycannot motivate you the way an adequate instructor can. Although there is a certain sense of pride that comes with being "self-taught," in today's music industry it is getting harder and harder to keep up with those players who have been properly trained.

Lastly, there is nothing wrong with choosing to opt out of learning Music Theory or receiving formal training. Music is not a contest nor is it meant to be a chore. Many have come to a point where having demanding instructors cause them to lose the excitement of playing music; many have also become pre-programmed and no longer feel the music but rather lock themselves into patterns, scales, chord changes, etc. Music is meant to be inspiring, entertaining and most importantly, enjoyable. Keep it that way.

Patrick DeCoste is a Boston area guitarist whose original music on his debut CD features well-rounded exploration, tasty lines and burnished production, giving one's imagination license to wander..

His latest CD is entitled "Inside The Unsaid".

Patrick DeCoste