I'm a software engineer in my profession but I've always loved playing music too. I think programming and music are very much related. I use the same thought process in both. It's all about structures and loops. I'm always trying to learn as much as I can about music theory.
After playing for many years and learning from so many of my mistakes I can give you my biggest takeaway:
Don't ever use anything that tells you how to play something. That includes sheet music, tabs, Synthesia, youtube videos that show you what to press. You're cheating yourself from "talking" music, which is all about listening to sound and developing muscle memory and music theory (and when I say theory I just mean scales/chords). Work through the process of figuring songs out by ear by the scale and its diatonic chords from day one and -yes- classical music too. All too often teachers use sheet music as the primary way to teach music. I too learned classical piano with sheet music for years as a kid but I can tell you now that it didn't help me one bit as far as understanding and speaking music. Instead just use your ear and music theory. You'll be able to play any tune that's in your head and jam with anybody. Also, you're better off using a piano or synth over a guitar for studying theory.
When we're born we're taught for years to speak and listen first and foremost. The act of talking is essentially improvising the English language. Music should be taught the same way.
Also, it's better to not even look at your instrument as developing muscle memory is a crucial exercise, much like touch typing on a computer keyboard. Playing music should be as inherent as whistling. I've noticed great artists such as The Beatles never bothered to learn to read music, and in my opinion it's what enabled them to become great musicians since they mastered playing by ear, chord theory, and improvisation.
That said, I do respect any sheet music provided as answers to theory related questions. After all, it is the written language of music. In the previous paragraphs I mainly talked about how to go about learning songs and getting a feel for music in general. Which imho can only be done playing by ear.
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