I am thinking of learning theory, I'm in Grade 1 - when is the best time to do this?

Hi, I’m currently working my way through beginner grade 1. When is a good time to do the music theory course in parallel? Now? Or should I wait until I’m further through the beginner courses?

I think it’s useful at any level, but don’t rush in and try and learn everything at once, enjoy the process.

Maybe wait for a lull in your practice, you may get to a plateau, or if you find you can’t practice at a particular time of day because everyone is in bed, whatever…

Do it at whatever time suits you. When I was first learning, others pushed theory on me and it was definitely too early (for me) and definitely hindered my progress. Now I soak up as much theory as I can.

Main thing is don’t let it impede your eagerness to play and practice.

Thanks! I’ve also now realised (I think) that the modules align to the modules in the guitar courses, so presumably I should do grade 1 theory and grade 1 guitar before moving on to grade 2 guitar!

As others have said, you should do it whenever you feel you would like to. There are no rules or set times. I haven’t done a single theory lesson despite being at the tail end of Grade 3, because at this stage I am more interested in the practical than the theory side of things. I don’t feel that it has harmed or hindered me in any way.

I’ll do the theory course eventually, but at a time when I feel that it would be of real benefit to me and the guitar goals I’m pursuing. That time will be different for everyone.

Hey Liam,

If you’ve got the time available, and the inclination, I say hook in. But make sure you don’t rush it - really absorb the basic foundations. It’ll help you enormously as you move forward, and allow new practical learning to be absorbed and expanded upon much more efficiently.
Its a truly tremendous course. The pinnacle of Justins teaching in my opinion.
All the best.

Cheers, Shane


Hi, I agree with liaty, Tony and Goffik. I spent years being taught theory very boring as a learner then after years I decided to learn some songs which my guitar tutor at the time was ok with so I did. Then I started to ask certain questions ref why this note/chord etc and then I realised the theory I knew fell into place. If in hind sight I had started learning songs, rythm and riffs I would be a better player than I am now. Don’t get me wrong I can play, jam and understand most theory but I have still got a long way to go.

I agree with several of the other posters - theory is of limited value for learning to play the guitar.

I know the rudiments from previous - and unsuccessful - attempts to learn keyboards and guitar. By this, I mean…I learned some of the theory, but never learned to play the instruments well enough to play a single song from start to finish.

It’s only now, following Justin’s courses that I’m actually learning to play, and would say that knowing a bit of theory has helped me very little, if at all.

Also, I find the guitar is difficult for learning theory, due to the idiosyncratic way the strings are laid out. It’s much easier to understand scales, keys, etc on a keyboard instrument.

That said, if you are interested, and learning theory does not take time away from actually learning to play the instrument - have at it!

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Have a look at this introduction module which outline why you should learn theory, when you should learn theory and when you shouldn’t learn theory.

I think it comes down to who is teaching you the music theory. If you haven’t tried out Justin’s course, I’d suggest taking a look at the first two modules which are free.

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Hi @freekeys and welcome to the community.
The theory course is designed as a practical course so once past the first few lessons / modules, you will need to have the ability to follow the teaching on your guitar. I would suggest take a little look at the first few (free) lessons and then concentrate on your actual guitar playing - wait until you are through Grade 1 at least.

Thanks everyone for your input! I already play a bit of piano so the first two grades were pretty straightforward but helped to introduce how some of the concepts transfer from piano to guitar. I did them while I was consolidating grade 1 practical and learning the 5 songs. I’m putting it aside now and moving onto beginner grade 2! Then I think after beginner grade 2 I’ll do the third theory module while I learn more songs for a bit :blush: loving all this so much, what Justin (and team!) have built is just phenomenal

Interestingly I found the theory has helped me understand the fret layout. Eg. Chords are simply stacked 3rds, makes it easy to remember chords and place them on fretboard (Think E chord and A chord shapes 5R3 low to high), difference in tuning between strings is a 5 intervals (a Perfect 4th), apart from G to B which is 4 intervals (a Major 3rd).
Also makes it easy to find same note on next string.
Intervals in scales for identifying notes on strings. Etc etc In fact I suspect many folks know some theory without even realising it😁

Difference in tuning is a 4th apart G to B is a 3rd.
E to A, A to D, D to G, B to e are all 4 intervals apart. G to B is a 3rd.
When using theory using 4th and 5th are intevals no number of frets.

Thanks Stitch, brain fade on my part. I meant to say that with standard tuning, which as you say is a Perfect 4th (or 5 frets/semitones apart), the same note can be found 5 frets higher and one string lower, or 5 frets lower and one string higher.
Eg . The ‘A’ note at the nut and ‘A’ note at fret 5 on the low E or vice versa.
And the B string, with 4 frets difference ( Major 3rd).

I agree with everything that’s already been said. I’d recommend to start but take it easy, you need to really absorb everything.

In the very beginning we tend to (or at least I did) to watch a lot of videos and read as much as we can to learn as quickly as possible and a lot of that gets lots or confuses us even more. Much better to go slowly.

I’m starting module 5 now and the great thing about Justin’s course is that is very much made to be applied to the guitar in a practical way, so don’t worry about where you’re at in your journey.