So many people think that learning theory is a drag or that you simply don’t need it.

Or even worse...

...that it will limit your creativity.

Nothing could be further from the truth and, in this article, I’ll show you five reasons why you need to learn theory.

1. Nashville Numbering System

Playing in a worship band you need to be able to play the same song in different keys because different singers will have different ranges, and therefore they’ll prefer to play songs in specific keys.

Now if you know the Nashville Numbering System, you’ll be able to easily transpose songs on the fly without even needing a new chart.

One complaint I often get is that certain riffs or electric guitar hooks simply don’t work in other keys because they make use of open strings or sound great in only one specific key.

That’s certainly a challenge but if you have a good understanding of the neck, it’s a challenge that can be overcome with ease.

Remember that your role as a guitar player is to serve and support.

Which means that, even though it’s not ideal to play certain parts in different keys, as guitar players we need to be able to deal with this.

The Nashville Numbering System will make this a whole lot easier.

2. Composing

Knowing theory will be a huge help when writing songs since you’ll know the inner workings of composition.

In fact I think it’s essential for every guitar player to be able to compose parts and serve the local team by contributing to songwriting.

I often talk about the importance of developing your own voice as a guitar player because it enables you to have a unique expression as a worshipper.

Turns out that theory also makes the process of finding and developing your own voice on the guitar a lot easier.

So don’t make this common mistake. Take some time and brush up on your theory!

3. It Will Make You A Better Lead Guitarist

If there’s one area that guitar players struggle with a lot, it’s that they don’t see the relation between harmony and melody.

More specifically, how single note lines go hand-in-hand with a song’s chord progression.

In fact, most of the lead lines and hooks you hear on famous worship songs follow the song’s harmonic structure and chord progressions.

Knowing how the chords and progressions are constructed will enable you to compose your own lead lines, and you’ll be able to see where famous lines come from.

That way you become a more competent lead guitarist.

4. It Will Make You A More Versatile And Creative Rhythm Player

Once you know how chords are constructed, you’ll have more options when it comes to choosing which voicing or tonal colour will best fit a specific moment.

Ambient guitar voicings is a great example.

If you have a solid ambient tone dialed in, then almost any chord will sound good.

However, if you want to go from good to great, then learning how to play open position triads for example, will give your playing a more orchestral feel.

So whether you’re playing an uptempo funky praise tune or a slow, pensive worship song, you’ll always be able to choose just the right voicing if you know your theory.

5. It Helps You To Better Communicate With Other Musicians

Music is a language and as guitar players, we need to know the inner workings of music.

This will allow you to powerfully communicate with the other musicians in your worship team and, as a result, get more done in less time...

...and at a higher musical level than those who can’t effectively communicate.

I think it’s important for guitar players to recognise intervals, to be able to write charts and to compose parts that compliment what the other instruments are doing.

Theory will enable you to speak this language with greater confidence so you can make a harmonious and joyful noise unto the Lord!


As you can see there are so many benefits to learning music theory and I’ve only touched on five points.

I’m sure you have some questions about music theory?

Good news is that I’m launching a new series on the essential theory every worship guitarist needs to know.

As I’m working on the new lessons, I’d love to hear how I can serve you best!

So go ahead and let me know what your single biggest challenge or frustration is when it comes to understanding and applying music theory.

I’ll personally review all the responses and then I’ll use that when creating new content for the site!

Just click the button to let me know.