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What should I improve first: theory knowledge or sense of rhythm?

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  • What should I improve first: theory knowledge or sense of rhythm?

    I've been taking lessons now for almost 2 months now and my teacher has been saying that improving my sense of rhythm and my right hand coordination will be the one thing that will help me the most as a guitarist, yet, I don't really see where he's going with our lessons yet. We've just been jumping around like crazy. We went from learning an Em Blue Scale to 12 bar blues to doing odd rhythm exercises and I just don't see the coherency in his lessons. He says he wants to help my sense of rhythm, but I don't really see him doing anything to really help it. And also, I want to get better at writing more so than playing, so should I just ask him to focus more on theory or should I continue my rhythm exercises? The thought occurred to me that there's no use in learning theory and trying to play it if I can't play it cleanly or with a good rhythm. Someone PLEASE give me some input.
    Good business with: echoes22, brianeharmonjr, antiochband, tsunamijesus, duncan, cakebakist, Anderer, bass_econo, talic, senor penguin and jamesreuter

    SELL ME YOUR M9

  • #2
    I would say work on both.

    Theory knowledge has nothing to do with rythm (mostly true). I mean that in the sense, that knowing all the scales, circle of 5ths, scales, note positions will not help you in playing in time, or even strumming or picking.

    what your brain knows about what things mean, is seperate from what your brain/coordnation knows about playing, and having a sense of timing and rythm.

    Basically, you should be learning all the scales and chords you can.

    While doing that, you should be learning how to play in time while you practice those scales and chords.

    Part of rythm seems to be keeping in time, and knowing how to pick/strum various patterns.

    to sum up: To just play a song, you gotta know the notes and chords. To play a song with somebody else, you gotta have rythm and timing. To make a new song or solo, you gotta know scales and theory.
    -------------------------
    The Black Hats - RPM2008 project CD

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    • #3
      I agree that you should work on both, BUT I think that if you're sense of rhythm is lacking than this should be addressed first. You're right in thinking that having formidable knowledge of theory isn't going to mean much if you can't play songs with good rhythm.

      As for the odd rhythm exercises that you don't see the point of... I think you should trust your teacher that these exercises will ultimately improve your sense of rhythm. While you may not see the point, the simple fact is that he has much more experience and knowledge in these sorts of things than you do, so if he says that doing these exercises will help, than they most likely will help, and you should do them.

      The overall direction and coherency of his lesson plan is another issue. I would suggest bringing up this issue with him to discuss. Tell him just what you feel: that you're having trouble seeing the direction in the lesson plan and that you don't see much coherency in the lessons. You may be surprised how well he actually has it planned out, and he may reveal some of his master plan to you. On the other hand, you may not be; he may admit that you're right in suspecting that he's just "playing it by ear." At that point, he should work towards making your lessons more structured and goal-oriented. If he doesn't, you may want to look for a new teacher.

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      • #4
        I already have a very basic understanding on theory, but I want to take it much further. I'm already well-learned in the Circle of 5ths, my Major scale and I know my Blues scale shapes, but I want to learn my pentatonics, my modes and MAYBE some uncommon scales like symmetrical and ethnic scales.

        EDIT
        I trust my teacher in the sense that he is an extremely talented musician and knows his stuff. He is a music major and has a degree in classical music studies and to add to all that, he has perfect pitch and has a great ear. However, just because he has all of those qualifications, that does not necessarily mean he is qualified to teach. I'm going to discuss his direction when I have my lessons with him this Monday and I want to get a definite lesson plan and kinda set one up.
        Good business with: echoes22, brianeharmonjr, antiochband, tsunamijesus, duncan, cakebakist, Anderer, bass_econo, talic, senor penguin and jamesreuter

        SELL ME YOUR M9

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        • #5
          I'm going to discuss his direction when I have my lessons with him this Monday and I want to get a definite lesson plan and kinda set one up.
          Very good, I think you'll be glad that you did.

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          • #6
            When I had my first lesson with him, I went very in depth with him about what I wanted to achieve through my lessons and I basically said that I want to improve my knowledge of theory and over-haul my all-around technique. I told him I wanted to know enough theory to be able to write a lot easier, but not so much that I was completely dependent on theory to write. As for my technique, I told him that I wanted to learn how to play a lot cleaner, improve my chord fingering and dexterity and also improve my coordination. To even further help him tailor my lessons towards my needs, I gave him a 20 song mix CD with all the bands and guitarists I like to give him an idea of what I wanted to do with my knowledge of theory and playing.
            Good business with: echoes22, brianeharmonjr, antiochband, tsunamijesus, duncan, cakebakist, Anderer, bass_econo, talic, senor penguin and jamesreuter

            SELL ME YOUR M9

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            • #7
              A good sense of rhythm is essential to any musician. Many musicians get by without knowing all too much theory, on the other hand...

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              • #8
                I have a very mediocre ear, so I really want to learn theory. Familiarity with theory, scales particularly, will really help your ear from what I'm told.
                Good business with: echoes22, brianeharmonjr, antiochband, tsunamijesus, duncan, cakebakist, Anderer, bass_econo, talic, senor penguin and jamesreuter

                SELL ME YOUR M9

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                • #9
                  What do you mean by "odd rhythm exercises"?
                  Would you consider the following lesson odd, or would these strumming patterns be easy?
                  www.scenicnewengland.net/guitar/acoustic/info/strumming.htm

                  Or how about this one.
                  www.izap.com/~pinnacle/rhythms/r.sixteenths.html
                  Could you figure out the pick patterns in these examples?
                  If not, then your rhythm skills need work.
                  Example 1 goes down up down up.
                  Example 2 goes down up down.
                  Example 3 goes down up up.
                  Example 4 goes down down up.
                  Example 5 goes up down up.

                  As far as music theory goes, I would consider buying a book. It's hard for the teacher to generate the huge volume of information that you will need. Plus, you won't waste time watching the teacher write things out.

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                  • #10
                    What do you mean by "odd rhythm exercises"?


                    Well "odd" could simply be opposed to "even", as in even and odd numbers. So, 3/4 would be an odd meter, if I'm not mistaken?

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                    • #11
                      I don't mean an odd meter or anything like that. Just the media he uses. He'll make me slap my knee to a rhythm and hum the root note of a chord I'm supposed to be playing.
                      Good business with: echoes22, brianeharmonjr, antiochband, tsunamijesus, duncan, cakebakist, Anderer, bass_econo, talic, senor penguin and jamesreuter

                      SELL ME YOUR M9

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                      • #12
                        Maybe your teacher's on the ball, maybe not. He may be trying to sort you out for a more specific program. Impossible to tell from here.
                        Mediocre ear - now that sets off some alarms. Music knowledge is a must of course but if you can't hear, get to work on it. Listen, listen , listen!
                        Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...




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                        • #13
                          Let me put it this way: I don't have a bad ear, I just can't write for ****************. I can distinguish the raising and lowering of pitches, I just can't string notes together well to write songs or riffs.
                          Good business with: echoes22, brianeharmonjr, antiochband, tsunamijesus, duncan, cakebakist, Anderer, bass_econo, talic, senor penguin and jamesreuter

                          SELL ME YOUR M9

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                          • #14
                            It dont mean a thing if it aint got that swing, baby.

                            Like everyone else has said, for good songwriting you need both. I'd say work on your rhythm first though, you dont neccesarily need to know WHY all the chords you're playing work together as long as you know they sound good. And thats all theory is really; explaining all the relationships that make things sound good.

                            Also, as far as scales go, you basically already know the pentatonic. Its the same as the blues scale, only minus the flat fifth. Voila.

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                            • #15
                              Let me put it this way: I don't have a bad ear, I just can't write for ****************. I can distinguish the raising and lowering of pitches, I just can't string notes together well to write songs or riffs.


                              Same thing. Listen, listen, listen.

                              As far as writing, 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. So 2 months into guitar lessons, I wouldn't be too concerned about it. Tell us more about your situation and goals.
                              Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...




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