What is Music Theory?
Music theory is the study of the math, science, and art behind how music is created, sung, and played. It’s the process of learning and practicing basic concepts that apply to single instruments, and concepts that apply to all instruments in the world of music. It’s an appreciation of the greatest music of all time in order to figure out how music works, and how to teach those lessons and secrets to the masses today, so that we also can improve our musical ability.
Learning music theory provides the average musician with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to play music at a higher level.
What isn’t Music Theory?
Music theory can have a bad rap. Many amateur players and listeners think music theory is a boring set of rules that’s out to destroy natural talent and individual creativity. After all, some of the world’s most popular artists aren’t schooled in music. But the truth is: music is one of the hardest crafts in the world for any artist to hone, and you can’t purely rely on your inherent talent alone.
Of all the things that can stunt your growth, learning music theory is not one of them. Learning music theory doesn’t turn you into a robot, though like an assistant robot, it makes your life easier.
Why Music Theory Makes Music Easier
Rhythm, form, lyrics, structure, chords, notes, harmony, intervals, scales, staffs, clefs, tempo, genres, keys…
These are all simple words that most musicians are aware of, but most people don’t understand what makes them complex and difficult to master. They each have their own intricacies. By firming your grip on the knowledge of these ingredients that make up music, you feel more in control of what’s possible with any instrument. As a listener, a player, or composer, you gain a deeper appreciation of music.
Combine your natural ability and creative instinct with lessons on music theory, and even a hobbyist can start playing like a professional.
What is Sheet Music?
Sheet music is a musical aid that helps you practice playing your instrument, whether it’s the piano, guitar, drums, violin, etc. Music notes and other musical symbols are printed on music sheets for players to identify pitches, rhythms, cords (and sometimes lyrics) of a song or instrumental.
Wikipedia shows that sheet music was first printed in 1473. Today, it has evolved to a point where any musician can buy traditional sheet music on paper, or digital sheet music for use on a tablet or laptop. You can even download free sheet music for your favorite songs online from Musescore.com, 8Notes.com, and MusicNotes.com.
(If you previously went to Chromatic for sheet music, please see the note at the bottom of this page.)
Should I Learn to Read Notes?
Notes might look intimidating, but they’re actually easier to learn than you might think. Here’s Simon DasGupta, professional drummer, on why he challenges even hobbyist drummers to learn to read notes:
It will make the learning process more understandable, and help you achieve your goals quicker. At my teaching studio in San Diego, I have encountered many students over the years who have had an initial resistance to learning to read, but most are won over quickly when they start to see, and personally experience the benefits.
Reading notes uncovers a whole new world of possibilities with your musical goals.
How to Learn to Read Notes
- Learn basic music theory (try taking online classes or private lessons)
- Find sheet music for your favorite songs to practice with your instrument
- Connect patterns between the theoretical experience and your sound
- Identify your musical strengths and weaknesses and take corrective action
- Repeat the process until you perfect your song of choice