I’ve seen a lot of different types of students in my career and I can honestly say that learning music theory hasn’t once made someone a worse performer. No matter your age, level, talent or work ethic, learning more about music theory will always make you a better player.
Here are some tips for getting started.
Take a course. Yes, you can absolutely study music theory on your own with a good workbook, but having a teacher available to answer questions will really bring to light some of the nuances of how music notation works and how it can enhance your playing.
Always apply what you have learned to your own music. After you are comfortable with a topic, take a look at a piece you are playing and apply some of the knowledge. It’s never too early to start analysing your music!
Example: Once you have learned your scales, take a look at a piece of music and mark the places where the composer uses all or most of the scale. What composers use scales to “decorate” their melodies?
Memorize your key signatures. Seriously!! Get them memorized. Key Signatures are the multiplication tables of music. You can figure things out, but memorization allows you to move on to much more difficult concepts. It also makes you a much better sight reader!!
Practice Your Rhythm. Rhythm is the key to being a good sight reader and developing the ability to learn music quickly. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you understand rhythm because you can do the exercises in the workbook. Clap the exercises out loud or choose one note on your instrument and play the rhythms. If you are having trouble learning a piece, practice only the rhythm before you add everything else.
Relax and remember you are learning a new language. It takes time and practice just like any skill. Music notation is an abstract concept that is part math, part language, part art and part physics. It can take time to feel comfortable.
Be sure to look out for our Music Theory I course coming in late spring 2019.
Happy Music Making!