Tips for learning music theory

Tips I can give you to (better) learn music and music theory


In this series of articles that will be published in the coming weeks, I will give you some tips on musical learning.

Being a pianist, I will take the piano very often for example. That said, these tips are of course applicable to other instruments. The musical theory stands out largely from any instrument.

The piano repertoire is so vast that it is impossible to learn everything! It would take you many lives! The number of works is colossal, whatever the style (classical, jazz and others). It is therefore important to work effectively to play a little bit of everything and be able to adapt quickly.

Here are some tips that will be discussed in the coming weeks.

Tip # 1: Why learn music theory?

Music theory? We have all heard about it one day, whether at school, with friends, at work, in music lessons … It has become a banned word for several years, replaced by “musical training”. It is to be believed that the word solfege had a bad reputation. Certainly, the content of the Musical Formation is much wider than music theory. And yet, the word Solfege is still very present in the discussions, forums, school programs and others. He has not quite disappeared. So to begin, I will try to explain that it is not by changing a word that we erase what is behind. Here are some good reasons to convince you that learning music theoryis not so complicated and it is especially necessary. Here are some untruths: saying that solfège is useless is false? Say we can do music without knowing music theory? If it’s true, then you risk being limited, the worse you risk to take bad habits (false rhythms, bad reading of notes …). Moreover, if part of the theory consists in knowing how to read the notes, develop your sense of rhythm … then all musicians do music theory without knowing it. Seriously, do not go back to music theory, do it in little but well, anyway, I will try to convince you that it is certainly a little personal investment but well done, it will save you time by the following.

Tip # 2: Work well in music

Despite the promises of all kinds, learning music is still not easy … You will need time, patience, perseverance and perhaps a little luck (for example find the (good) teacher who suits you best). I will give you some tips to work on your musical learningin an effective way. Even if online methods, internet videos and virtual teachers flourish in recent years on our computer screens and smartphones, the teacher “in the pulpit and bone” remains the best way to learn music and coach you. Online methods can be complementary but not sufficient. Beware of these online methods too, some are of good quality, others less so. A teacher will give you a methodology, adapt and advise you.

I will also give you some advice on the concern and the quality of your work (both in quality and quantity).

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Tip # 3: Before playing, watch!

Before you even start playing, you have to know how to analyze, take note and read the score you want to play. A reading and a few questions to ask yourself are definitely needed before you start headlong. The answers will allow you to play better, to progress more quickly. For example, you must be able to know the tone of the song, identify the alterations, have a good vision of the scope and its measures (replay, possible modulations, changes of keys eventually), the tempo, the rhythm and more generally locate all the musical symbols that appear on the staff.

Tip # 4: Deciphering

There are lots of exercises in music to improve his technique, his game, his flexibility, his dexterity, his speed etc. … There is however an exercise that I recommend to all to do from the first years: the deciphering. It is an exercise that will allow you to treat a little technique, reading notes, the rhythm while making you happy. It is therefore a rather complete and rewarding exercise to do as often and regularly as possible. It is not necessary to go on long decryptions, limit yourself to a few measures. Feel free to take different scores and styles, the more you diversify the media, the better your progress.

Tip # 5: Work well on a score

The choice of the score is made, you have observed it, and you just have to start. Here are some more tips for you not to lose yourself, not to go too fast at the risk of disgusting yourself and giving up. Making efforts to do this is tolerable from the moment the results are there. As in any learning, you need progress and avoid stagnation or worse regressions. It requires a method of work and learning. I propose some recommendations to you to work well your partition and which I hope will be able to help you.

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