Can Music Theory Improve Practical Skill?

Thursday, February 18, 2021 by George Miller | Uncategorized

Let's be honest, most of us picked up an instrument because it seemed fun, and any phrase with the word theory in it was definitely not a part of the plan. 
Music theory sounds boring, rather dry, and looks almost mathematical, which makes us question its point altogether—why does music theory even exist? But turns out it's all sort of essential. 

The Link Between Theory and Music 

The simplest way to understand the connection between theory and music is by comparing it to language and speech. We can all mimic a word or a sentence from a foreign language, but you can only put in the expressions and enunciate on the right syllables if you understand the words being said. That way, you're not just speaking; you're also communicating. 
It’s exactly the same with music. If you play an instrument without understanding how each note works, it’s basically just a well-memorized, mimicked practice. Knowing music theory will help you feel the music from beneath the surface, enhancing your performance's overall tone and delivery. 

Can Music Theory Help You Become A Better Musician?

Most people don’t prefer studying music theory because, initially, practicing an instrument is pretty overwhelming. Adding nerdy music theory to the mix doesn't sound like a great idea. But once you’ve mastered the basics, studying music theory can do you good; it’ll help you make sense of the music you’re playing. 
But it also does come down to your long-term goals. If you just want to play a few of your favorite songs for fun, you don't really need to understand music theory. But if you want to play like a pro and want to compose your own music, knowing music theory can change your entire experience with an instrument and help you get the best out of it. 

Music Theory Allows You to Be Versatile 

If you're hanging out with other players, it's not always easy to just see their hand movements and follow-through. It may be simple if you're using the same instrument, but it won't help you with the vast range of instruments across a band.
For instance, if you play the guitar and watch a bassist, you can probably mimic the simple chords by just watching, but you'll get lost pretty quickly if they're a bit more advanced. 
Similarly, you could be around a pianist or a harmonica player, and none of them will tell you where to place your fingers on a fretboard; they don't know your instrument, so the only way to communicate is through musical terms, i.e., chords, progression, and so on. 
So, knowing music theory will definitely help you be more competent in a band setting. 
Want to sound like you really know what you’re doing? Sign up for music lessons at Miller School of Music in Rochester, NY. We offer bass and guitar lessons to teach technique, theory, chords, rhythms, and more. 
Check out our instructional videos to learn about our guitar ensemble courseGive us a call today

Why Learning The Guitar Is Good For Brain Development

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 by George Miller | Uncategorized

Have you ever considered picking up the guitar? Well, now we have scientific evidence to motivate you. Most people start learning the guitar early on, sometimes as a hobby, and sometimes just because it makes you look pretty cool. 
But there’s more to it than just adding to your personal appeal. It can help you feel more positive, can be a major stress buster, and boost your confidence. For many, it also becomes an outlet for emotions that could otherwise become overwhelming. 
Additionally, in a study, about 85% of parents of children aged between 7-17 years reported that music lessons improved their children's problem solving, time management, and prioritization skills. Here’s how learning the guitar can aid your brain development: 

Boost Your Brain’s Grey and White Matter

study conducted at Harvard in 2003 by Dr. Schlaug discovered larger grey matter in professional adult musicians' brains compared to regular people. The study deduced that musical training early on can seriously impact the brain's structure, improving auditory and motor skills. All the extra grey matter is what helps people stay sane in their old age. 
Other studies also show an increase in the white matter within the brain. This helps to improve the inner functions of the brain by strengthening and building connections inside. These improved connections then help you adapt to changes throughout your life. 

Every Guitar Lesson Is A Party Inside Your Brain

If you've ever picked up the guitar, you know it requires focus and a whole lot of concentration. Even the softest tunes require optimal attention. 
This is because when you play the guitar, your entire brain is stimulated; different regions of the brain and various cognitive functions come into action, activating the visual, auditory, and motor regions. 
Moreover, the increased activity in the corpus callosum—bridge between the creative right and rational left side of your brain—reboots your brain in such a way over time that you get quick access to the genius area on the left. This leads to improved memory and better problem-solving skills. 

Should You Start Taking Guitar Lessons?

Practicing the guitar is cool, fun and it's an easy workout for your brain. And when it comes to brain development, the sooner you start, the better results you’re likely to get. 
So, don’t wait! Get in touch with us at Miller School of Music. We offer music lessons in Rochester, NY. You can take live or remote lessons to learn bass or guitar
Check out our instructional videos to learn more about our guitar ensemble course

Buying Your First Guitar: What You Need to Know

Thursday, January 28, 2021 by George Miller | Uncategorized

Are you an aspiring guitarist, just waiting to get started on your musical journey? It’s time to buy your first real six-string and turn your dream into a reality.

Before you buy your first ever guitar, though, here are a few tips to keep in mind. 

Avoid Buying a Used Instrument

As a beginner guitarist, you may have considered buying a secondhand or a used guitar to start off with. However, this isn’t recommended. 

It’s best that you purchase a new instrument, even when you’re buying your first ever guitar. Used instruments may cost less and seem easier to get (for e.g., you buy it off a friend), but using a secondhand guitar can be a bit of a gamble. Since you’re an absolute beginner, you won’t quite know what to look for in a used instrument. The guitar may look perfectly fine, but there may be several finer details you won’t be able to identify or assess at this stage. 

It takes considerable knowledge and experience to be able to tell if a secondhand guitar is good or not. Getting one is okay if you have an experienced guitarist helping you out, but otherwise, stick to a new instrument.

Don’t Blow All Your Budget 

Getting a new instrument doesn’t mean that you end up spending way more than you need to on your first guitar. Chances are, the more expensive an instrument is, the better quality it’ll provide. It can seem tempting to get an expensive guitar over a more affordable one because you want your journey to start with the best equipment.

Remember, you’re still a beginner at this point. You don’t need the most expensive piece of equipment to start playing the guitar. You can also find suitable guitar options from the instruments closer to your budget range that will be perfect for a beginner. Once you continue learning how to play the guitar and get better at it, you’ll also need certain guitar accessories to up your game and achieve a better sound. It’s best to allocate your budget accordingly and stick to guitars within a reasonable range when shopping for your first six-string. 


Don’t Buy Online

Another thing you need to remember when buying your first guitar is that you need to buy it in person. Sure, you can browse different options at an online store to get an idea, but when it comes to making the actual purchase, you should visit the store personally.

Even if you aren’t yet experienced in handling or operating guitars, it’s worth checking out the instrument up-close. When you buy it from a (physical) music store, you get to see exactly how it feels in your hands. You can also inspect it closely and get a better look at the instrument before buying it.

Get private guitar lessons from an experienced instructor to kick-start your musical journey. At Miller School of Music in Rochester, NY, we offer both live as well as remote guitar lessons for all age levels and skillsets. Whether you’re a beginner or need a refresher course, we’ve got something for you.

Sign up for our guitar classes today!