A big part of my job as a guitar teacher is to evaluate each student’s playing ability and understanding of music on the guitar. When I know where students are and where they want to go, I can create a plan to help them reach their goals. I thought it would be beneficial to create a short quiz to help guitarists see where their strengths and weaknesses are, and I thought I’d start with something fun.
A. How well can you play music from reading standard music notation?
- What are all the golf clubs doing on the fences?
- I can play it at home just fine, but not in front of other people.
- I want to spend my time debating if guitarists should learn to read music.
B. How many chords do you know?
- I can play some, but I don’t know what 7 means.
- My hands are too big/small/fat/skinny to play any chords clearly.
- I have a book of 10,000 guitar chords and I am learning all of them, in order.
C. Do you know and understand music theory?
- I don’t know where to start, there’s too much information online.
- I love reading theory books but I haven’t applied any of it to my guitar yet.
- If I learn too much about music theory, it will inhibit my creativity.
D. What do you know about scales?
- The modes are all Greek to me.
- I know the pentatonic and major scales, but all my solos sound the same.
- I’ve memorized all the patterns, therefore I know everything.
E. How good is your ear?
- I don’t understand how some musicians can play together without music.
- Augmented fourth, diminished fifth; they’re the same, right?
- Everything I play is original and I don’t want to learn from anyone else.
F. How would you describe your guitar playing technique?
- Is it bad that my thumb comes over the top of the guitar neck?
- If Jimi Hendrix played with his teeth, that means it’s ok.
- The faster I play, the better my technique gets.
If the first or second answers to each question resonated with you, you are in good shape to become a great guitar player. You have valid questions and are driven by a curiosity which will make you an excellent guitar student. You might not know everything, you are aware of that, and you are ready to get on a solid track of learning guitar.