After you’ve decided on an instrument to play, the next step is to sit down and learn it. Which systems or methods are best for learning music is always up for debate. There is no shortage of websites, YouTube channels, and DVDs for sale that promise a quick and painless mastery of the instrument you play. Instead of fumbling around with different “get good quick” methods, I think it’s best to start with learning basic music theory, especially if you are a beginner on your instrument. Music theory is simply a set of guidelines that will help you understand how music works and why some things sound good to our ears and other things sound bad. You can apply music theory concepts to any instrument you play and after learning the basics you will be able to read and play sheet music as well. Learning music theory will help you develop a greater understanding of music as a whole, as opposed to other methods that may only teach you methods that apply to one instrument. All of the instructors at Zera Music Company incorporate music theory into lessons. Below I’ve listed some benefits of learning and applying music theory concepts on your instrument.
1) Learn the language of music
You can apply music theory concepts to all instruments and genres! The concepts you learn for guitar apply equally to a violin or even vocal performance. Music theory is at its core based on math and how these frequencies interact with our brains and make sounds that cause us to feel certain emotions. For example, if you smash down random keys on a piano it will probably sound really dissonant and stressful. Music theory will help us understand why these notes sound “wrong” together and help us understand why other notes make beautiful sounds when played together. Once you start to understand the language of music you will have so much more fun with your instrument. If you understand different keys it will allow you to sit in with any group of musicians and play along even if you’ve never played the song before. The possibilities are endless once you become familiar with the language of music.
2) Start writing your own music
If you are an aspiring songwriter, learning music theory is the best thing you can do for yourself. Instead of spending hours and days trying to figure out the chords or melody to your song idea, you can use some music theory concepts to narrow down your options and then create a chord progression or melody that matches what you want to express. For example, if you want to create a more upbeat and happy song you can pick a major key and then use the chords associated with the major key you are in to write your song. It’s so much easier to do this than trying to write a song using only your ears. Understanding the theory behind your own songs will also allow you to explain them to others so that they can play along with you!
3) You have to know the rules to break them
Some people shy away from learning music theory because they are convinced that learning these rules and guidelines will ruin the creative spark behind their music and put them into a box. This couldn’t be further from the truth! You have to know the rules to break them and once you understand the basic concepts of music theory you can start to bend the “rules” and create really interesting and creative music. For example, once you know the major and minor scales you could start combining them to make strange and beautiful melodies that take your listeners on an emotional journey. The most interesting and captivating music often has a relatively simple theory concept behind it that the artists will bend and tweak slightly to create something new.
I hope this blog post has given you some insight on why instructors at Zera Music Company feel so passionately about embracing music theory and making it a key component of our private lessons.