TZ: That's great. Do you think that beginner guitar students are underestimating the importance of music theory, and what learning theory can do for them?
CM: Yes, I totally think so. I'm a guitar teacher so I see it very often. From my experience, this is almost always the case. I think that comes from the fact that one can get faster success in the beginning, when reading and memorizing numbers with tablature, which is an easy system that everyone can work with and which is simple to understand. Of course, in the beginning you want fast success.
Usually when starting to learn an instrument, people just want to jam along to their favorite songs. On guitar, you do not need theory in order to do that which is probably, I think, one of the only melodic instruments where that is the case. If you play piano or saxophone or anything you have to learn the notes first, before you can play any tune, before you can understand how to play any actual music. On the guitar, that's different.
That's why I think guitar players in general underestimate that. Then later on, when the time comes to write their own music or to expand their improvisational ability beyond simple minor, pentatonic box shapes, for example, then they figure it's getting very difficult to understand when all the basics are missing.