Why Music Theory Is An Important Part of Music Lessons
You may have been wondering why exactly music theory is so important. After all, you are playing pieces of music, so isn't that what you were wanting to do in the first place? So why should you have to bother with learning music theory?
Helps you learn faster!
Here's something that you would agree is a big plus. While you're taking your time doing your weekly assignments in your theory book, you are broadening your musical knowledge. All of a sudden in that piece of music you're learning they aren't just random notes splattered about that you have to read carefully. You begin to see patterns of scales and chords that instead of being separate notes they are lumped together in your head as one thing.
Also when you are first learning to play the piano (or guitar) doing your theory assignments help with basic theory, such as your note names and dynamics (volume). This is especially good for younger learners to help them retain what they are learning during their lessons. For younger musicians it is helpful to make music theory a game, with flash cards and fun theory books. It is very obvious, as a piano teacher for many years, students who have a theory background and those that don't. You can't really read all that is in a piece of music without knowing your music theory.
Benefits of learning music theory.
If you are considering enrolling your child in music lessons, one of the requirements you have for finding the right music lessons for your child should be making sure music theory is a part of their lessons. In the long run it will help them become better at their instrument and it could also help them later in their life of they pursue something in music.
If they ever decide to major or minor in music, music theory is a requirement, and they will already have a head start of knowing the information and it being easy for them. Just the same as multiplication is easy by the time they get to college.
Maybe your budding pianist or guitarist have been taking lessons since they were little and when they hit high school they wanted to try out for the high school band at their church. They are going to appreciate the knowledge they have in music theory when they are reading chord charts and are asked to transpose the music to a different key. If you're playing in any band it is helpful when everyone knows their theory, that way you can all be on the same page..... and in the same key.
Many of my students who start when they are younger and continue taking lessons are extremely excited when they start their music classes in school. They always know the answer and let me know that they are able to get their homework done without much time and effort because it is stuff they know by heart.
Compose your own music.
If your dreams are for composing your own music, then you are really going to want to know your music theory. Yes, creating beautiful music is artistic and about your feelings and expression but you're not going to be able to write those feelings down if you don't know how to. Even if you had a basic knowledge of notes they wouldn't convey to others you shared your music with the same expression of you couldn't articulate it properly. Rhythm, dynamics, tempo, key changes and so much more!
It takes work but having a strong grasp on music theory and having a good ear you would even be able to write down some music without even having your instrument with you! After all, Beethoven did compose music after he had went deaf!
Learning to play without theory.
Playing the piano without knowledge in music theory is kind of like talking without really being able to read.
Even if your learning to play by ear you will still be learning some theory such as rhythm, tempo and dynamics. But you will never be self-reliant. You will always need to hear a piece of music played for you to be able to figure it out. You won't be able to pick up some sheet music and understand what is on there. You might be able to play your own music but you will not be able to give it to someone else to share it.
I have had many students come to me and want to play in their church band or enter a competition and they are having a hard time because they weren't able to understand the music that was given to them. Finding out that they had had 5-10 years of lessons in the past made me sad because this was something that they should have learned. Some of them couldn't even read notes because they had been soley trained to play by ear and to mimick what was played for them. Although playing by ear has it's advantages it is most important to be able to read and understand music on your own. The bright side is though that it is never too late to gain your knowledge in music thoery.
Even if you did learn basic theory, to sight read music, you'll be so much happier to of had music theory lessons. Because you'll understand music more, hard pieces, although still hard, you'll be able to understand what they are conveying for you to play.
Learning music theory opens up so much more potential for each student!