Teacher keeps the sheet music.

Dots on the sheet. Press and strike mechanically.

Music unknown. Disconnected and distant.

I love western classical. I learnt melody chord connections listening to and looking at the sheet music of Bach flute sonatas and four part choral music. I have also learnt Carulli and Carcassi Western classical fingerstyle guitar pieces.

Song is a tool.

Any music is useful as long as we use it for learning what is useful.

What if while or after playing a western classical piece, the student made a note of the the notes they used. Beyond mechanical playing they are already in the realm of understanding scales. Dr Benjamin Bloom will emphasize the term understanding.

You get my point. Take and Ilayaraja song chord sheet. Before using formal jazz text books, I learnt melody chord connections using his songs.

Beyond just playing the chords, when we start thinking why he used to chords, how he is using different chords for the same note in a practical pop environment, what chord did he use in a particularly Indian type of sound…

Writing down the melody notes and the chord options, one starts to understand how to work in the chord melody ecosystem.

You may be misled by someone telling you that chord finding and improvisation happens just like that. Me give you the impression that it can’t be learnt. The wrong idea that maybe you don’t have the skill or not born with it.

Based on conversation with students this kind of distortions is a common occurrence. I have just been lucky to see exceptional musicians work, making it clear that they all spend a lot of energy and time before they can do what they are doing. That astonishing skills can be learnt – it just takes a lot of time and clear focused practice.

In the beginning someone is bothered by  having enough skill to play the guitar. Slowly it is more about what to play. Often that means time taken away from the instrument improving the understanding of music becomes as much or more important than physical practice.

Which 3 chords can be used for the c note from within the c major scale family? Similarly for other notes.

What patterns of notes fit into the major 7th chord?

How do they look on the guitar? If the melody is moving down what could be the next possible chord?

Lot of deliberate work understanding the connections. Often this doesn’t come naturally from just playing. It takes effort to do it on paper, try and err on the instrument… Extended to other parts of the instruments since guitar is pattern based.

they don’t come naturally, nor are we born with it.

Careful practice. observing musicians whose skills you want to replicate and knowing what techniques they are using helps. Whatever you’re playing, trying to understand what is going on behind the notes helps.

Practicing towards what you want to play and are really familiar with will make sure that you develop the much-needed skill of being able to listen to yourself and match the playing to the way the song is meant to sound.

if you find it very difficult to sustain your motivation and continue playing your exercises, it is not because you are not meant to learn the guitar, but because you are an individual who needs exercises that means something to you.

p.s. Try Guitar Basics that matters, if you are interested in playing Indian style Guitar. It is available as part of ragacourses.com where you can access and learn different areas within guitar music for a single membership at no extra cost.