Songs vs. Theory - What To Learn In Your First Music Lesson

Our guitar teacher Fabio pointing to notes on the page for student Zubin to read music.

So you’ve walked into your first guitar, singing and piano lesson.


The teacher will likely ask you what your goals are with the instrument.

What would your response be?


A lot of people are hesitant to touch theory, whilst others are also hesitant to express how much they love Justin Bieber, and want to learn his songs!


You get the idea!


My personal opinion is that a good music teacher will both teach theory and technique (the small details and strategies of music), as well as songs (the big picture / context surrounding music).

I mean, without the songs, how can we feel alive with music?

Similarly, what makes up great music is the use of musical elements such as melody, rhythm and harmony.

All of these things can be taught. And so today’s article, I want to share 3 things from both songs and theory methods that you should be learning in your first 10-week term of music lessons ever:


  1. What makes a great song? Talk with your teacher what moves you about the song. Is it the lyrics? The insane pulse of the drums? The soaring melodies? Identify and break apart what a good song means to you
  2. Pitches / notes are your ABCs – learn your first scale and chord on the guitar / piano, and sing your first melody. Train your ear to hear different pitches and your body to play those pitches out loud
  3. Rhythm – what is the beat of the music? What are bars? How is this different to measures? Make sure to listen for the beat of the music, and start counting in your head, and transferring that onto your instrument. Do you have to cut it up in your head? Notice what you have to do to your body to make this happen – strum or hit the keys harder, or expand your diaphragm more


So your action steps:

  • Pick a song that really sparks an emotion within you
  • Learn basic music theory that underpins melody and rhythm – notes on your instrument and note values (whole, half, quarter etc.)


How did you start learning an instrument?


I would love to know more about how different people learn music, so reply with a comment below.


Until next time, keep on rockin!