Everyday I receive questions from parents asking why music theory is compulsory to each and every student. Today I am going to list the reasons why I believe music theory to be so important.
Music theory is by far the most unpopular part of learning to be a musician. Children and beginning musicians often struggle to see how scales, chords, rhythmic notation and intervals have any basis in their lives or indeed their musical lives.
However, when you are sure of and properly understand these building blocks of the musical art, how you read, play and understand music will truly transform and blossom into an essential and incredibly empowering skill.
I must admit I struggled with the study of music theory for many years. I have to say I found it tedious, boring and I just could not see the advantage and importance of being au fait with the subject.
Gradually, as I learned to read music more accurately I found that more and more music was now becoming available for me to perform and it was if a whole new world was opened up to me. Very soon I was able to play pieces I had already loved to listen to and dreamed of playing from scores that I previously could not comprehend or attempt playing. This improvement is essentially because of my eventual study of the foundation of music theory.
Music theory is like a foundation for your musical life. If it is sound and strong it will make music easier for you. A teacher once said to me that understanding music theory is like an English speaker understanding basic grammar in English. Without it, the study or practice of speaking and reading English is destined for failure, errors and frustration.
Music Theory Is Important Because:
It makes sight-reading far easier. When you can realise which intervals and rhythms are to be played from a score very quickly you will find a sense of “second nature” where you can readily follow the score.
It makes understanding music and musical form less difficult. If you don’t understand keys, intervals, modulation and key relations you will struggle to understand what is happening in a simple melody or in a sophisticated musical form like a symphony, where the entire concept and shape of the work is based on key modulations.
It makes it easier to compose your own music. When you are sure of the key (or even the lack of a key) you are working in, you will be able to experiment and in time write music that flows well with suitable chord movement and a consistent style.
It makes it easier to improvise. Improvisation in musical art form styles like jazz, traditional music and, increasingly, contemporary classical music is usually dependent on the understanding of the chords and harmonic progressions in a piece or “head.” When you understand the scales and modes suggested by the chords in a jazz or other score that requires musical theoretical comprehension you will experience the great joy of taking musical “flight” like musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie or John Coltrane.
Knowing music theory allows you to play with other musicians in ensembles and orchestras. One of the most exciting elements of being a musician is to be able to play and interact with other musicians in groups. Understanding music theory makes experiencing this great joy very easy.
It will allow you to experience the great joy of performing new music and pieces that you can understand because of your newly founded understanding of music theory.
There you have it my 6 reasons on why Music Theory is so important.
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