Thinking about music can become sometimes very complicated and overwhelming. You have all the difficult concepts and foreign words that make you feel exhausted and confused just to think about them. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Music in itself is not complicated. The better you can think about music, the better results you can get.
The fact is, that you don’t need to know each and every rule that exists to communicate effectively. The less you know in the beginning, the better. You don’t need to learn every rule of English language to express what you want to say.
As easy as this might sound – music is a language. It is a mean of communication and expression. Everything that you learn in your music theory class should help you to express yourself better.
If your music theory concepts are just raw information with no real application, you need to re-learn those concepts in such a way, that makes more musical sense. We need to divide music into small pieces so we can understand them but then we want to bring them together so they make sense as a whole.
When you are learning music, you can approach it pretty much the same way as if you were learning some foreign language. Your main reason why you are learning it, is to be able to communicate. The same is true if you are learning a blues language. You learn the typical phrases, rhythms, chord progressions, you learn how to create a good blues song, you understand the critical pieces that need to be in place. Than you can communicate effectively.
Think about how you have learned your first language. It can really help you understand music in a new, more friendly way.
Guidelines how to approach music as a language:
1) Play with professionals
When you were learning your first language, you had an advantage of practicing with professionals – your parents. You could practice with them all day long and that way you were able to learn the language so quickly. Try to find some ways how to practice music in the same way. If you are not physically surrounded by professional musicians, you can use recordings, video lessons or articles. Whatever brings you closer to the best musicians.
2) There are no wrong notes
Just because we are not used to certain sounds, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. Feel free to explore all the notes against any chord. You can find some really interesting sounds.
3) Technique is a mean of expression
Don’t practice technique just because it looks cool, try to find applications of every technique in real music. Technique enables you to express yourself, your task is to find something you want to express.
4) Create mood or emotion, say something worth while
Put life behind your music, make your notes mean something. First have something worthy to say and then find a way how to express it. That is what connects with people. Flashy licks are cool but good song can change somebody’s life. Use your personality and your experiences to create your unique sound. No one can do it for you.
There is no faster way to learn music than through jamming. As Victor Wooten says: “Play more than you practice.” Jam with everybody, no matter what is his level of musicality. Jam with recordings, jam with radio. Sing, clap, play your instrument. Everything counts. Music is not composed only of notes. There is rhythm, tempo, dynamics, articulation etc.
6) Use silence
This is one thing that we as a guitar players forget quite often. It is equally important what we play as what we don’t play. Without silence there would be no music. All the sounds would be playing all the time. Don’t be afraid of silence. Let few bars of music go by without playing anything.