Is Musical Ignorance a Win or Fail? [Good or Bad]

Are there any justifiable benefits to being musically ignorant of scales, music theory, music reading and all around higher  music education? 

After posting my video discussion surrounding "Guitar Players Who Don't Read Music," I noticed an abundance of posts in the comments section saying that reading and even music education is a waste of time. 

In this post I'm going to explore, "Musical Ignorance."

Some guitar players will say they don't need to learn music theory, music reading or scales because the "greats" didn't know that stuff and they are successful. Does this mean that Musical Ignorance is a key to great playing?

Watch the Video:

So, does this imply that mere mortals (like most of us) are different. We're lacking in some "gift" that those players have and we are studying music because we lack their magic?

An even better question is why bother learning any theory at all. In fact let's shut down all of the music schools because after all who needs those places. They're pretty much just a waste of space. Right?

Other guitar players will be quick to say that they don't need to learn any theory, reading skills or learn scales because none of the great musicians knew that stuff either. They'll quote players like; Paul McCartney, Angus Young and Jimi Hendrix. And, they'll point out how those musicians were famous and they didn't know any scales or theory, and those guys didn't know how to read. So, those players and what they knew (or didn't know) is the proof - right there - that learning music is a waste of time.

While these beliefs are prevalent and abundant they ignore the fact that these principles only relate to certain guitarists who play by ear in certain styles. So, this means that the idea of musical ignorance is not true of all skill levels, (from beginners to intermediate to semi-pro, to professional). And, it also means that it isn't true of all musicians across all styles of music.

When we expand the pool of musicians out and add in the Jazz players, studio musicians, pit orchestra players, pop and top-40 songwriters, as well as, classical musicians, it's going to get really hard to find very many musicians who are working in those circles who aren't highly educated and well trained.

While there are a general group of guitarists out there, including some of the legends, who don't know theory, and have no formal training, it would be interesting to look at a large group of successful musicians who are highly skilled in the studies and disciplines of music.

Let's begin with a number of highly respected guitar players. Guitarist, Steve Morse went to the University of Miami for music. Pat Metheny and legendary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius went there too. Pat Metheny later became a member of the Berklee Music College staff, which is the school where guitar virtuoso Steve Vai attended, and so did John Mayer. And, then there's the guys in Dream Theater they are also very highly educated being made up of both Berekley and Julliard music school grads.

We also can't leave out the winner of the 1985 Guitar Wars competition at just 19 years old, Paul Gilbert who is a graduate of the Guitar Institute of Technology at Hollywood's Musicians Institute, as are a number of other incredible guitarists like; Norman Brown, Frank Gambale and Scott Henderson.

Now, granted that this pool of guitar players may not exactly be household names like Paul McCartney or Eric Clapton, but they are musicians who have done extremely well in their careers and all of them have studied music professionally at colleges, Universities and world renown music academy's.

But, it doesn't end there, many pop and progressive rock musicians also have a fairly involved background in music education and training. This even includes Joe Jackson who was classically trained before moving over to perform pop music.

Members of the band Chicago were music students at DePaul University. Elton John attended the Royal Academy of Music in London England, winning a scholarship there at the age of eleven.

Sheryl Crow is a classically trained pianist, as are the Van Halen brothers. Also, Pat Benatar is a trained opera singer along with Geoff Tate, lead singer of the band Queensryche. Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead studied composition at Mills College. Rick Wakeman of the progressive rock group "Yes," also attended London's Royal Academy of Music.

So, in answering this question of whether musical ignorance is a good thing or a bad thing, maybe we need to look at this on more of a psychological level. Like what would cause a person to buy into the belief that no music training is either okay or might actually even somehow be good.

Maybe it's that players who have never pursued any music training, don't want to admit that they have huge holes in their skill set. Remember the first law of recovery is admission! And, there are a lot of musicians who just don't want to admit that they are really weak in a lot of musical abilities. Even Eric Clapton has admitted there were quite often times when he felt incredibly inadequate during studio sessions because he couldn't read charts.

So, perhaps if you're a player who has never learned to read, or who has never learned any music theory, or who doesn't know their scales, maybe it's time to just admit it. If you can admit it, then 50% of the problem is gone, and you can make room for developing those skills.

After 30 years as a musician, I've never met one educated player who's said that they wished they never studied music. Or, that has said they wished they'd never studied music reading or learned to play scales.

If you think that you don't need to study music, and that musical ignorance is really the best way to go. I'd like to make a challenge to you. I'm going to highly suggest that anyone who thinks that music training is worthless should try meeting with a professional music teacher to just get assessed.

And, I'm not talking about meeting somebody who's running a free ad on Craigslist for guitar lessons at $14.00 per lesson. I mean a serious professional educated teacher with over 20 years experience. You might have to pay them upwards of $100 for their time. But, I'd suggest doing it.

People go to personal trainers, they'll hire a trainer at a gym and they'll experience a lot of physical breakthroughs. So, why not challenge yourself and hire a professional musician trainer and find out more with respect to what your missing.

If you don't have the money, then save the money. And, remember, you tend to get what you pay for so don't go for the cheapest person you'll find. So many people will buy coffee and junk food, but they won't invest in their own brain. There's a lot of pride that comes from investing in yourself and even more from seeing the results.

So, before you settle on believing that Musical Ignorance is a good thing, try meeting with a professional music educator and find out how you might be able to improve yourself. If you keep an open mind and listen to what that trainer has to tell you, I honesty believe that you're going to push your skills up to higher level, much faster than you could ever do all on your own.



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ACOUSTIC GUITAR 004: Travis Picking Accompaniment Style

Acoustic Guitar 004:
Travis Picking Accompaniment Style...

In this lesson we'll run through a collection of simple Travis patterns to help get you started with his approach. 

Since Travis picking is comprised of a very steady and recurring fingerpicked pattern, these simple ideas will be an excellent introduction. Merle enjoyed adding licks, runs and passing phrases around his chord plucking patterns, so we'll make a study of a simple way to incorporate that concept as well.

The amazing sound that music legend "Merle Travis" created using his steady fingerpicked pattern technique has become one of the 'must know' guitar concepts dating back to the 1940's, 50's and 60's era country guitar. The repeating plucking idea that he pioneered can be taken across any chord type and used over any chord voicing. The result is a solid and highly useful fingerstyle accompaniment pattern.

PART ONE: In example one, you'll discover how the format of a simple Travis picked idea can add consistency and structure to a plucking routine across a chord. In example 1a, the chords of "C and G" major are used to demonstrate a steady bass note groove that is simple in its pattern picking structure. In example 1b, an alternating bass note groove is included to add more motion to the down beat attacks.

Example two takes our simple Travis picking application a step further by bringing in a few scale lines to the mix. The alternate bass note groove is maintained across chords taken from "D Major." Each chord is covered using the steady eighth-note pattern and alternate bass approach. However, scale lines from the key of "D Major" are added to help connect the harmony and provide a more steady and even feel.

PART TWO: The second part of the lesson incorporates a more authentic Travis picking approach by altering the pattern rhythmically. Travis picking involves a combination of fast moving eighth and quarter notes that are often attacked with double-plucking on the downbeats. In example 3a, figure 1 demonstrates how the pattern functions in a simple manner. In example 3a, figure 2, the double-plucked concept occurs on the beat on one. Example 3b, takes the new authentic Travis pattern a step further by employing the pattern on two chords, (Em and G).

In example four, our technique of the Travis picked authentic pattern introduces a filler line melody passage in measures two and four. This example demonstrates how everything can come together to create a very connected and organized sounding plucking line across a series of chord changes. The key of "C Major" example is rhythmically sound and flows smoothly back to the top. When performing the passage up to speed, be mindful of the fretting-hand fingerings used on each melodic connection.

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 004: Travis Picking Accompaniment Style

Related Videos:

Travis Picking Accompaniment Style... 

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 003: Using Chords as Templates

ACOUSTIC GUITAR 002: Pattern Picking Basics



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Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes

That Black Thing on My Guitar

I've had way too many people over the years leave comments and email me asking, "Hey What's That Black Thing On Your Guitar," so I'm making a short video post explaining what this thing is and what I use it for. So, if you've been curious about what it is and how this works, stay tuned because this video is going to explain, "That Black Thing on My Guitar."

That black thing is a Roland midi pick-up, more specifically it's called a "GK-3" divided midi pick-up. You can switch from between the Guitar, to the MIDI, or you can have a mix of both.

Watch the Video:

The unit includes a volume dial along with two buttons that allow you to scroll up and down the controllers sound banks - switching from one midi effect to another.

The GK-3 on the guitar communicates with the brain of the device that sits on the floor. The brain center that I personally have is an older unit and it's model name is the Roland GR-20.

Now, I need to state that I've had this unit for probably 10 years and the GR-20 is the older model of the Roland Guitar Synth line. Nowadays, Roland makes a new model that is a lot more powerful than the GR-20 and it's called the, GR-55.

What this crazy looking thing does is use a special type of pickup, (its called a HEX pickup) to judge each strings frequency much like a tuner does. Basically, this pickup tells us note value. And, this is routed to the controller to be able to relate the data of the note as a digital signal. It is able to communicate frequency, peak amplitude and duration to the controller.

The controller can overwrite any sound that's programmed as a parameter onto that signal from the pick-up. This means I can dial in a sound established in the GR-20 for my guitar. The GR-20 and GK-3 will work together to make the sound come across like the setting. This could be a; synth, a piano, a saxophone even an organ. It's pretty cool.

This also means that I don't have to use my piano as much I used to and I don't need to think like a piano player to add harmonies and layers. I can just call up the instrument effect I'd like, and then continue thinking like a guitarist. Much easier!

So, there ya go... my explanation of - that black thing on my guitar... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online internet guitar Dude, head over to my website at and get your FREE lifetime membership... And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package!



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Guitar Players Who Can't Read Music

How good are you at playing a piece of music on guitar that's written out in traditional music reading, "standard notation" (No TAB)? If you're curious about how this works, stay tuned / this weeks "Guitar Blog Insider" is going to discuss, "Guitar Players Who Can't Read Music."

What I've found over the years, is that traditional music reading is an ability that only a small group of guitar players have studied and can actually do. Most guitarists use TAB, or they just play by ear. And, while that's okay for awhile, it eventually might cause a few small problems to certain players.

Watch the Video:

Now, I do realize that some amazing guitar players like; Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton never learned to read music. And, while there were times that they said it created a few uncomfortable situations in the studio, they were still able to enjoy incredible careers without learning the skill of traditional music reading on guitar.

Since we all know that there were (and there still are) plenty of musicians, (not just guitar players), who can't read music. The question comes down to why?

It's almost next to impossible to find a trumpet player who can't read. Or, a clarinet player who can't read. So, what is it about guitarists and music reading?

To get a better idea for how reading actually operates on the guitar's fingerboard, let's take a run through a short notated melody line and discover how the line operates on the neck.

Key of "C Major" melody:

If you studied how and where notes sit in the middle of the neck and you learned the finer details surrounding rhythm duration, this would be a very easy melody to perform. And, most certainly, if you were a decent trumpet or clarinet player, this melody would be incredibly easy to perform.

So, here's a question, why would this melody - if placed on a music stand in front of most guitar players - be met with utter dread and despair? Well, that question can have many different answers but before we go further down the rabbit hole with all that, in the video I show you how this melody could be performed in a few different ways along and across the neck. Such as in the 10th position and in the open position.

The exact same melody can be performed in several places on the guitar...

Why is this? Well, this is the problem that guitar players face. And, the term used to describe this is called, "Unison Notes." See the guitar, (due to its six strings and long fret-board range), can allow players access to the exact same note in several other places upon the neck.

We can generally have three places to be able to perform the exact same tone. Granted it depends on the pitch of the tone we're dealing with, but in general, we can play the same note in pretty much 3 places. So, what does this mean for a student of guitar, because it would appear to create a lot of confusion. Specifically confusion around, "Where" to perform notes.

How does a guitarist learn to read the range of a group of notes in a piece of notated music?

In the curriculum that I use, the neck is viewed as three segments. A "low range," a "mid-range" and an "Upper Range." Once you learn how notes operate in each fretting range, (and once you develop your ability for having good confidence with rhythmic duration, like; Quarter notes, eighth-notes and sixteenth-notes, along with syncopation), you'll be able to read most basic melodies on the guitar.

Granted that more advanced pieces will be a challenge, and you'll need some prepared reading time for those. There are a lot of excellent books available to help train your skills, one of my favorites is, "Jazz Conception for Saxophone Duets," by Lennie Niehaus. That is an excellent book for more advanced reading studies all over the guitar neck.

To read music, all it takes is practice time and dedication. Anyone can do it if they have the right reading course and they put aside the time and the effort.

So, there ya go... that's my explanation of guitar players who can't read music... If you want to learn more about what I do as an online guitar teacher, head over to my website at and get your FREE lifetime membership...

And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium lesson package!

As always, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comment section, thanks for your time, and we'll catch up again next week on my other channel, for another episode of the, "Guitar Blog Insider."



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Killer Chord Swap - Spice Up Your Jazz...

If you've been trying to make sense of jazz chord progressions but you think they mostly sound kind of boring... 

I've got a chord substitution trick for you that will spice-up those boring progressions and start getting your jazz jams sounding a lot smoother...

Example of traditional diatonic progression:

click on the above image to enlarge full-screen

Example of jazzed up progression with Vm and IV7:

click on the above image to enlarge full-screen

Watch the video:

So, there ya go... a simple chord swap idea that will spice up your jazz progressions... pop these chord ideas into any traditional jazz progression and you'll be well on your way to much cooler sounding jazz jams...

And, if you want more cool ideas like this... head over to my website at and get your FREE lifetime membership...

And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium package! ...Thanks for watching, and we'll see you again on the next video.



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Texas Blues Shuffle Riffs "Key of A"

NEW: QwikRiffs Series - Video (005)

The latest QwikRiffs video, Texas Blues Shuffle Riffs "Key of A" is available in the members area. Includes PDF handout!

QwikRiffs are one of the new lesson series that are available to members at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikRiffs Series run through collections of rhythm guitar riffs covering all types of playing styles. I cover different 'famous artist' playing approaches and I will demonstrate ideas based on rhythm guitar techniques...

Episode #005 covers three "Key of A" Riffs.

Riff one covers a dominant 7th arpeggio riff. This riff closely resembles a bass line and is almost entirely composed of the tones from a dominant 7th chord. Chromatic passing tones and a major to minor 3rd lick work to connect the part. This riff can be performed on the IV and V chord of the key. A demonstration of this is provided in the performance. You can study the application of this idea further by watching my YouTube lesson titled, "Texas Blues Riff You'll Love."

Riff two involves an open chord shuffle riff. This sound is popular with players like Johnny Copeland and Jimmy Vaughn. The riff highlights the major and minor thirds. And, it includes some nice lower register walking bass tones.

Riff three breaks down a higher register dominant 7th chord riff that includes three string chords and filler tones. This is a popular sound applied by artists like Stevie ray Vaughn and T-Bone Walker.

Sign into the website (or create your free members account) to join the members site. Sign up for the Basic Monthly or Premium (annual) membership to download the PDF handout for this lesson and study all of the other classes available on the website. 

Become a FREE member of the website, sign up today!



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5 Things You Won't Learn in Music School

If you've been to music school, or you're thinking of going, you should realize that when you're done they'll be a number of things that you're still unprepared for. 

In this video, I'll be breaking down 5 things that you won't learn in music school...

Watch the Video:

The first thing that you won't learn is "How to get over your analytical musical mind." As musicians, we tend to be highly detailed people, which will often lead us to drastically over-analyze a lot of what we do, what we play, how our projects are going to go, etc.

I've noticed, (in my experience), that this can damage a lot of musicians in their career. Rather than take action, they instead, over-analyze their plans, (and their music) to death. And, years will end up going by without them getting done half of what they could've hoped they might have accomplished.

When you catch yourself over-analyzing, you'll have to be clear on the reasons. All too often, it has to do with perfection. So, get over that and get over it fast. You're human, you'll never be perfect. Just do your best in every situation and get your projects finished. Get them completed and get the project out into the public. Most things you'll create in the digital world can be corrected or edited later on. Just get your work out.

Allowing yourself to get hung up on the use of complex "text-book" musical terms can be one of the horrible left-overs after completing music school. Trust me when I say that both non-educated and long-term established musicians do not want to hear anyone sprout off complex musical terms.

Learn to speak in very basic terms. Everyone you work with will appreciate it more. Keep in mind that most established musicians have been away from music school for 10, 20 or 30 years. Most of them do not process the concepts of music using text-book terms.

And, non-musicians will feel like you're being arrogant if you call out every movement in a song as if you were reading from a music encyclopedia. So, in the working world of the musician, tone it down with the terms. Everyone will appreciate it in the long term.

When you're done music school, you'll need to start making money (and fast). Why finish a 30, 40 or $50K music diploma only to get a job working as a bus boy or as a waiter /waitress?

Here's the underlying problem, 99% of the music schools out there won't teach any of this. Once you graduate, you're pretty much on your own. But, if there's one thing you need to do, it is to have a plan for income, even before you start school.

Whether that's teaching, or creating an online music business. You'll need something solid. And, please don't say a YouTube channel. I've had a YouTube channel for nearly 10 years and I can tell you that it is not a stable income. It goes up and down and it is entirely at the discretion of the way YouTube happens to be running its algorithms (and that changes all the time).

Start a real music business, that you control 100% and that always makes you money. And, make sure that you have multiple streams of income, so that if one slows down, you're never relying on that one single income source. You have several others to draw income from.

Professional relationships are one of the biggest factors of working in the music business. You'll have; band members, band leaders, agents, club owners, clients, associates, managers, web developers, the list can go on, and on, and on... And, like the famous saying goes, the "Quality of your Life is the Quality of your communication."

This is the one area, above all others, that you've got to get right with. The main thing is to avoid any phony acts or fake personalities when dealing with people. Be real, be yourself and have integrity. Which really just means being whole and true to yourself.

If every interaction you have with others is with a phony - put on - fake personality, people are going to get sick of that. It might not happen right away, but over time people are going to feel like they've had enough. So, be honest and really work at being yourself. People will appreciate that tremendously.

The last point I want to cover is "Finding your Path," in this crazy business. I get emails all the time from musicians from all over the place and the one common trait from all of the musicians looking for success advice is that they need to find their path of success.

There will be things that set you apart and you'll need to exploit them. In case you didn't know, being a musician is part of the entertainment business, and if you have a problem with entertainment, you're in the wrong business.

Get out there, meet people, be entertaining and discover all types of music. Decide what the best styles are for you. Is it Blues, Jazz, Folk, Rock, Country, Soul, Funk, experience a lot of styles and find your path. One or more of these styles are going to be very natural and easy to play. All you need to do is discover the ones that work best for you.

Once you do this, you'll be able to relax in your style and have success in it.

Okay, so there ya go... 5 Things You Won't Learn in Music School. Take them to heart... if you can implement them, you'll be well on your way to more success...

In the meantime... head over to my website at and get your FREE lifetime membership... And, when you want more, you can always upgrade to either a Basic, or a Premium package! ...Thanks for being here, I'll see you again on the next post.



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ARPEGGIO DEATH MATCH: 4 Patterns in 1 Lick

Here's a cool sounding multiple position Minor arpeggio run that covers 4 minor patterns in one lick... 

Alright, let's walk our way through this lick in step-by step detail. Watching the video lesson will be the easiest way to completely nail this lick. 

Below the video is the TAB chart. Make a study of how the pattern sits on the neck and fully understand the fingerings you'll want to apply prior to building speed.

Watch the Video:

Get good at that arpeggio idea. Break it up, chop it up, re-invent it and use it in your own playing. Go through the lick in detail using the TAB below.

click on the above image to enlarge full-screen

If you want to learn more licks and more cool guitar ideas, head over to my website at and start with a FREE lifetime membership... And, when you want more, you can upgrade to either a Basic (Monthly), or a Premium (one year), package.



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Parallel Tonality in Chord Progressions

Parallel sounds in harmony are a great way to blend the chords of a key center and create colors in music that bring out interesting sounds. On this weeks "Guitar Blog Insider" we're going to make a study of how you can use, "Parallel Major and Minor Tonality in Chord Progressions."

Chord changes that create this type of harmonic effect can float from Major tonality ideas to Minor tonality. Or, they can make the shift going in the opposite direction. 

Either way you do it, it sounds cool when you produce this effect. And, once produced, the effect of these chord changes will bring out a great sound regardless of the directional method that you use to perform them.

Watch the Video:

I've composed an 8-bar example for you, make a quick study of the chord harmony. It's in the key of "A Major," and it uses the parallel tonality of "A Minor."


 click on the above image to enlarge full-screen

If this is a new concept for you, the application of "Parallel Harmonies" in music, is something that will probably take you a little time to be able to get used to working into your composing.

But, if you follow the basic guidelines I've explained in the video, you'll quite likely start having some success doing this within a short period of time. I personally prefer this sound in a more jazz oriented context. But, it's completely up to you, for how you'd like to apply this into your music.

Just be sure to test the formatting of how you'll produce making shifts between Major and Minor in a number of different ways. Test with Seventh chords, and with triads, and most importantly watch out for, and listen for, these effects in music that you enjoy.



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