Sequencing With The Consonus Approach
Using YouTube videos or some other online guitar sites to learn how to play guitar is a fairly common practice among many students. The gimmick for many of those sites is they use popular songs to teach the latest “riff of the day” or “trick of the day.” While a certain portion of that is a nice addition to any curriculum, a steady diet of that type of learning is void of the lasting elements that make a healthy, well-educated guitarist. The pop tunes and licks should supplement a basic necessary core curriculum (method). Sequencing is a key element of learning that is missing in the random approach that takes place when skipping around and learning bits and pieces from various sites. The Consonus method is based on the concept that the most efficient and effective learning takes place when concepts are sequenced so a new skill is an outgrowth of a previously learned skill. The Consonus approach also uses exercises, solos, and ensembles that sound traditional and contemporary. Because of the nature of the original content, the Consonus method is copyright free and particular attention has been paid to making the music timeless.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Popular Tunes
The advantages of teaching and learning pop music are obvious. Pop tunes are well liked and familiar. The disadvantages might be a bit less obvious. Some of the disadvantages include:
- The tune may contain the use of skills that the student can’t physically play.
- The tune may contain a skill for which the student has not learned preparatory skills.
- The student just plays the music without knowing what it is or why he is doing it.
Here’s an example of student not knowing what she is playing. When I have asked a student in my guitar class, or a private student, to play a particular chord, she would say, “I don’t know that chord.” When I would play the chord, she would respond, “Oh yeah…I know that chord. It’s in this song I play, but I don’t know what it is.” This is a musical dead end. The student knows something to play, but doesn’t know when, or how, to use it again.
Learn the “What’s” and Why’s” Not Just the “How’s”
It’s true that it takes less time to learn to play some pop songs on guitar than to learn what it is that is actually being played. Some tunes are gimmicky and just fun to play, and require little knowledge of what you are actually doing. But, to not learn the “what’s” and “why’s” and only focus on the “how’s” of playing leaves the guitar student deprived of a lifetime of self instruction. Knowing the “what’s” and “why’s” will enable the guitarist to apply the skills to all the music of their future.
All You Need To Know To Play Music Pop Is There
While you might not see the titles of the latest pop tune (flavor) of the week in the Consonus method, all the skills needed to play current pop tunes are there. Whether it be chords, strumming patterns, fingerpicking patterns, improvisation concepts, or solo guitar in tab and standard notation, all of the essential skills required to play popular music are presented. And the best thing is they are presented sequentially, so each skill is an outgrowth of a previously learned concept. The students are learning “what” they are playing, not just “how”. The sequencing makes the content easy to follow and digestible. These skills are all essential in playing popular music. After all, they are the same skills the original artists used when they recorded the tune. I use to laugh when students would say something like, “Can you show me the notes Eric Clapton uses?” as if he has his own personal notes. The fundamentals and even advanced techniques are the same regardless of your stature in the music business. To merely teach and/or learn pop tunes for the sake of knowing how “how” to play the tune, without regard for sequential presentation, stunts musical growth.
I heard this on the radio!
I’m extremely pleased with how well the original pieces (solo, accompaniment, and ensemble) of the Consonus Method came together. I’ve actually had students tell me they have heard some of the pieces on the radio, or saw the movie that had a Consonus piece in it. Ahhh…no you didn’t, but thank you so much for thinking the sound and style was that close!