School of The Rock


Learn Guitar or Piano                

Written by Paul D. Race for SchoolOfTheRock.comô


No matter what kind of music you  like or want to write or perform, the ability to accompany yourself is critical. 

It helps you with your songwriting. It also keeps you from being at the mercy of an accompanist. 

Learning guitar helps you relate to many kinds of popular music.  It also means that if someone puts you on the spot anywhere there are musicians, there’s bound to be a guitar within reach.  Being able to play at least some guitar also gives you “cred” with folks who may not understand that your real talent lies elsewhere. 

If you plan to be a worship leader, at any level, it’s critical.  Most worship songs were written by guitar players, and it’s hard for non-guitar players to ever really get a feel for that music. 

I regret not learning to play piano when I was young enough for it to sink in.  People who really learn piano come up with chord progressions and harmonies that guitar players never do.  If you doubt me, listen to the Doobies before and after Michael McDonald.  I love both eras, but you have to admit that having a serious keyboard player in the band broadened their musical horizons. 

If it’s too late to actually learn piano, I’d recommend at least learning the chords you’re most likely to use in your songs on the piano as well.  Again, you may find yourself called upon to sing a song without your accompanist or even a guitar handy, and if you can pick the chord out on a piano, you still have something. And you’ll grow musically for being able to play at least a little.  Don’t laugh, self-taught pianists include Annie Herring of the Second Chapter of Acts, Larry Norman, and Sir Paul McCartney. 

I’d recommend learning banjo, too, if I thought it would help your career - it’s a lot of fun, but I don’t think it’s for everybody.  Yet.  ;-)

Every town has a guitar teacher, and nobody can keep you from practicing until you’re insanely good.  But if nothing else, you need to be at least good enough to accompany yourself on one of your typical songs. 


As always, please contact me with corrections, complaints, clarifications, etc.  If your response is responsible, I'll try to include it in the "reader response" section below.

God bless,



Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.A Note from Paul: Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you enjoy your music and figure out how to make enjoyable music for those around you as well.

And please stay in touch!

    - Paul Race Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to visit our discussion forum. Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page

Visit related pages and affiliated sites:
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well. The Independent Christian  Musician. Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs. X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance. Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction. New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences. Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album. Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments. Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations. Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for. Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music. Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music. A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.