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By Byron Marks

One skill guitar teachers usually overlook when teaching their students to play guitar is communicating with other musicians. Yes, the teacher communicates with their student but they rarely teach the student how to communicate with other musicians. 
Regardless of the setting that you are playing in; playing around the campfire with friends, local jam nights to jam nights, live gigs with a band, working in a recording studio or just jamming with friends for fun. There will be plenty of situations where you will have to communicate with other musicians. You will have to be able to do this quickly and effectively.
Because communication isn’t usually taught during guitar lessons; most guitarists won’t understand how important being able to effectively communicate with other musicians is until they are in a situation where they have to do it. This is the wrong time to figure out that you don’t know how to communicate with the other musicians that are in the room with you. 

What Will You Need To Be Able To Talk To Other Musicians About?

The short answer is: the more that you know and are able to articulate, the easier it will be to communicate with other musicians you are playing with. It can also depend on the level of musicianship the people you are playing with are at. More advanced players may require a higher level of communication depending on the style of music. 

If you are at a local jam night; you will have to understand and be able to communicate things like chords, keys, chord progression, chord changes, song starts, breaks, and endings. If you don’t know how to communicate and of those, it will be very hard for you to keep up with the other musicians you are jamming with.

Solutions That You Can Start Working On Right Now? 

The first thing that you will need to do is figure out exactly what you level of communication is. 

Do You Know:  

 – The names of all the open chords?

 – Names of bar chords and how to play them? 

 – The different types of bar chords (Major, Minor, 7th) 

 – Key signatures, what notes make up a key

 – What signals other musicians give to cue you to go back to a section of a song, like: Patting the top of their head to tell you that you are going back to the “top” (start) of that particular song

 – What the signal is to repeat something that you just played

This is not a complete list of every communication skill you will need but they are great places to start because they are very important, even on a basic level. If you don’t know any of these things, start working on them now. If you aren’t familiar with any of these skills, don’t worry about mastering everything all at once. 

Write down the skills listed above and start working on 2 to 3 of them each practice session. You can keep track of your improvements with a notebook. If you have other friends who play an instrument, schedule some time to meet with them and jam, use the things on your list to communicate with them (Do some things on the fly and ask them to do the same for you). 

To Conclude
In learning to play guitar (or any instrument) you will soon learn that music is its own language and like learning any other language it will take some time to do. Speaking the language of music can seem odd or intimidating at first like when you first learned to talk as a child. 

When you have gotten the hang of it, Communicating will be so easy for you to do and you will have so much more fun jamming or playing with other musicians. If communicating with other musicians is easy for you already, it means that you have a very deep understanding of what it is that you are playing and also what others around you are playing. 
Having trouble communicating with other musicians is something that all musicians face at one time or another. What is great is that the fix for this is very simple to do. If you are having trouble either communicating with other musicians or don’t know how; find a local guitar teacher in your area who can help you. 

How great would it feel to be completely confident that you can communicate with any musician, anywhere at any time?  

About the author: Byron Marks is a guitar instructor who teaches beginner guitar lessons in Manchester, NH . Byron is committed to helping his students reach their musical goals and become the guitar players that they want to be.