Formal music education - hindrance or help?

Guitar Tricks Forum > Open Discussion > Formal music education - hindrance or help?

Senior Member

Joined: 04/09/03

Posts: 117

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

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?

Registered User

Joined: 02/27/02

Posts: 379

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

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!

sanrai082020

Registered User

Joined: 08/20/20

Posts: 1

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

#3

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

faith83

Full Access

Joined: 04/23/20

Posts: 414

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.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

#4

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.

"You can get what you want or you can just get old." Billy Joel

Carl King

GuitarTricks Video Director

Joined: 10/08/07

Posts: 465

It is a help. :)

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

#5

It is a help. :)

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

snojones

Full Access

Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 523

Carl,

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

Captcha is a total pain in the........

#6

Carl,

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

Captcha is a total pain in the........

W3

Full Access

Joined: 03/09/17

Posts: 42

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

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.

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7386

Originally Posted by: W3
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.

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.

A good program will challenge your thinking skills & your playing skills in a mutually reinforcing manner.

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#8

Originally Posted by: W3
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.

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.

A good program will challenge your thinking skills & your playing skills in a mutually reinforcing manner.

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory