What does is mean to be a music student? Is a successful music student someone who memorizes notes, learns the right way to play any given chord, and learns scales and theory before playing songs? Maybe, but maybe not. According to NYC Guitar School teacher and Guitar Player Magazine contributor Vincent DeMasi, guitar students can benefit from understanding the big picture of music. Placing your musical journey in the context of these three key concepts can help you enjoy music for a lifetime. MUSIC IS A LANGUAGE.
You’ve probably heard this oft-quoted aphorism before without giving it
much thought, but like a language, music is organized sound for the purpose of communication and expression. Also like a language, much of its meaning is derived from context, so be aware of context clues. For example, beginner students will ask me how to know which of the two G chord shapes they
should play. I advise them to play the one that sounds best in the context of whatever song they’re playing. It’s like choosing between two words that have essentially the same meaning. Choose the one that will sound the best and help articulate your meaning most clearly! MUSIC IS NOT THE INTERPRETATION OF NOTES AND SYMBOLS.
It’s the other way around really! Learn to use your ear first. When I was in high school I studied French for four years without ever really speaking it. Our teacher would open a text book and have us memorize the past tense reflexive irregular masculine verbs or something like that. It wasn’t how I learned to speak English, and as a result I can’t really speak French, now. Music is the same way. Learn the language by speaking it more so than by studying it in a book. You can’t speak French by just by memorizing a French to English dictionary and you can’t speak music by memorizing a chord dictionary. THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF MUSIC STUDENTS; MAP-MAKERS AND EXPLORERS.
Map makers study scales, chords, and theory, but they don’t put their knowledge to use in practical situations. Explorers study too but mostly they get out and play with other people, they perform, they compose, and when
they get completely lost, only then do they turn to a “map” (or a more experienced guide) to lead them further along. I believe music is a sacred and mystical part of life’s incredible journey so BE AN EXPLORER!!!!!!
By Vincent DeMasi