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The art of learning a musical instrument

Take it seriously, because music is more than just about chords.

Raphael Francisco
Raphael Francisco

Published: 11 March 2016, 3:02 AM

Learning a musical instrument is more than just playing simple chords.

Although mainstream pop music has catchy melodies with distinct and powerful vocals, its music structure is not as complex as other genres such as jazz, classical, rock, and metal. If you observe carefully, most pop songs only require four simple chords – a mixture of major and minor ones.

If you are thinking of picking up a musical instrument, you should go beyond the restraints of mainstream music and learn to appreciate more genres of music. After all, music is a complex language that desires to be expressed eloquently.

MUSIC IS A LANGUAGE THAT NEEDS TO BE ELOQUENTLY EXPRESSED.

When one picks up an instrument, learning basic chords is not enough. Although it is easy to get by without understanding music theory, learning it unlocks a myriad of creative possibilities when playing and writing music.

As a guitarist myself, tablatures – or tabs for short – can be a curse if you do not attempt to understand how they work. These tabs only show you the fingerings on the fret board rather than musical pitches, and make it too easy to learn a difficult song.

As this practice continues, you will eventually find yourself being stuck in the same place without progressing forward because you have no idea how to apply theory.

TABS – THE HORRIBLE CHEAT CODE FOR GUITARISTS.

Apart from theory, it is essential to sharpen your techniques for your instrument. A song can be interpreted in different ways, and by arming yourself with numerous techniques, you can create your own unique interpretation.

Instead of being contented with just playing chords, you should learn the different kinds of scales too; from the blues, the bebop, to the pentatonic scale – just to name a few.

DO NOT JUST STICK TO CHORDS, LEARN SCALES AND ARPEGGIOS TOO!

It is also important to expose yourself to a wide variety of genres such as classical, jazz, blues, rock, and even metal. You may not be able to appreciate all kinds of music, but they certainly have distinct elements that will broaden your musical knowledge.

These genres have different and intricate structures that explore the boundaries of music. By exposing yourself to different kinds of music, you will subconsciously pick up different techniques from each genre.

Another fantastic way to learn an instrument well is to play with other musicians. By having fun jamming sessions, you will learn a lot from your fellow jamming buddies and be able to understand how you can utilise your instrument even better in a band. It trains your ears too!

YOU LEARN THE MOST FROM JAMMING SESSIONS.

Lastly, passion is the most important factor when learning an instrument. This is the main driving force that will push you to have the patience to understand different theories, and to practice your techniques to perfection.

Learning a musical instrument is fun, and it is a lifelong skill that will allow you to bring joy and laughter to those around you.

What kind of musical instrument would you pick up today?

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