Formal music education - hindrance or help?


Grub
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Grub
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05/27/2003 9:04 am

Following on from the previous post, I'm wondering about the value of a formal education in non-classical music like you get at Berklee. Sure, some great players have been there or at other music schools but many great rock and jazz players have never had a formal music education. What are your views? does a formal music education stifle creativity and innovation or help it?
# 1
Slow Diver
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Slow Diver
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05/27/2003 4:50 pm
I think that if you go to a music school you will sound as a guy who went to a music school. You know...I don't have time to explain what that means. Also I notice that guys with a degree in music are often been kind of treated as "not 4 real" by others, the "street wise", so if you go to music college yo should expect this. But I guess that this really doesn't matter quite a lot since human beings like to divide into all kinds of groups.
The world is loaded, it's lit to pop, nobody is gonna stop!
# 2
sanrai082020
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sanrai082020
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08/20/2020 10:00 am

Nice to see your post. Learning play guitar need time like you spend time on playing games. You need patient


# 3
faith83
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faith83
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01/17/2021 12:36 am

Speaking as s songwriter, primarily, my observation is that formal music education and a deeper understanding of music theory leads to writing music that's more complex. That's not necessarily inherently a good thing nor is it a bad thing. It depends on who's doing the writing.

Example: Billy Joel has a solid understanding of music theory that goes way way way beyond most songwriters and rock/pop/country/etc musicians. As a result, take a look at a chord chart for one of his songs -- very difficult to play. But it doesn't sound "pretentious" (unless you count his classical piano album, that is)

On the other hand, JD had almost no understanding of music theory, is my understanding. His songs are much easier to play in terms of chord progression (although if you play them the way he did, they are crazy hard because he was a phenomenal guitar player). Same with Bruce Springsteen and probably most of our collective inspirations and idols.

I think it depends on the person. I don't think JD (or the Boss) was hampered by his lack of music theory education, and I think that Billy Joel would have written iconic songs either way.

Caveat: In my experience, writing on piano also results in more complex compositions becasue it's so much easier to reach for all those crazy chords. Given Billy writes on piano, that may be as much a reason for his complexity as his knowledge of music theory.


"I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk."

# 4
Carl King
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Carl King
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01/17/2021 5:59 am

It is a help. :)

-Carl.


Carl King[br]GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

# 5
snojones
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snojones
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01/18/2021 3:39 pm

Carl,

I am going out on a limb here, but I can't imagine that exceptional brevity came easy to you :)


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# 6
W3
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W3
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06/27/2021 10:24 am

Personally speaking, I played for years using on line lessons etc, and it wasn't until I took actual one on one lessons that I flourished and my growing ran up quickly. Tried to learn slide from you tubes but until I took lessons, was I ever able to really make bank. Having said that, GT has so much on slide that I was able to build heavily but not until I had the technique down solid.


# 7
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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06/27/2021 2:58 pm
Originally Posted by: W3Having said that, GT has so much on slide that I was able to build heavily but not until I had the technique down solid.

This is a good observation. Conceptual understanding (theory) & physical technique (practice) has to grow together.

Otherwise you can play things you don't understand or you understanding ideas you can't actually apply or do. Both of which make progress difficult if not impossible.

I think some people have a mental image of formal music education as being only theoretical learning. But any good music school or program is a combination of learning music theory combined with just as much applying it to technical performance.[br][br]A good program will challenge your thinking skills & your playing skills in a mutually reinforcing manner.


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# 8
SRVFan2000
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SRVFan2000
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09/29/2022 9:46 pm

I can speak from experience. It helped me a lot. I play much better after having taken many lessons. It only opened doors and helped with my "creativity." Many of the players who can jam sans music education are limited to a few chords in one style. Many of their tunes start to sound the same. They can sound great, but again they are players and not so much musicians. I think Kurt Cobain is a good example. He was great at what he did but he was first an entertainer. If you can draw naturally well with one red paintbrush, why would you paint any worse if I handed you blue, green and yellow? There are exceptions. Some take lessons and still play bad. Some never take lessons and play well. An argument might be made that those who are not naturally talented take lessons. I probably fall into that category. I can play now though. Bottom line, the vast majority of people will only benefit from lessons.


# 10

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