Why Music Lessons Should Include Written Theory

These days, the type of music lesson you’ll find in Toronto focuses on fingering, playing by ear, and overall technique. In our experience, we’ve seen countless other music schools and teachers overlook the importance of written theory in their music lessons. Instant gratification seems to be the main objective here. We see it all the time. People often come into our music shop asking “how fast can I learn to play guitar so I can show off in front of my friends?”

Music has several elements and fundamentals that need to be mastered by aspiring musicians. These elements include pitch, melody, rhythm, harmony, texture, timbre, form, and structure. Many casual musicians dismiss music theory as a series of complicated and unnecessary procedures that are hard to understand and don’t contribute to the overall quality of their music. However, instructors should always incorporate theory into their music lessons. Without basic theory, music lessons are just memorization sessions with no significant meaning. Without theory, musicians would find it very hard to analyze and interpret complex musical scores.  Furthermore, all those musical ideas in their head would never make it on paper in a form that other musicians could understand. In essence, theory is necessary to decipher the many inner workings of music.
Writing and Performance
Music majors practice and study music for hours. The best universities usually incorporate theory into their music lessons because they understand the importance of creating music. When musicians play notes, they are simply recreating music written by somebody else. Music theory teaches skills important for analyzing and writing music meant for public performance. Several styles must be mastered before being able to compose music. Because of this, music lessons should always include these important concepts.

Error Detection
Casual musician will listen to a live performance and often completely miss major errors made by the performers. Music producers, educators, and conductors need amazing listening and analytical skills to properly critique and improve live performances. Without a strong grasp of music comprehension, performers can make major mistakes and they will go unnoticed to the untrained ear. Proper aural skills will command the respect of one’s musical peers. This skill is especially important for aspiring music producers. Mainstream producers like Dr. Dre have invested several years in their craft and can pick a bad note from a large and complicated musical score.

Sight Reading
Music producers and composers are not the only people benefiting from proper training in music comprehension. Musicians also reap the benefits. One of the most important aspects of music performance is looking at a musical score for the first time and playing notes exactly as imagined by the producer. Music comprehension teaches musicians the creative thought process of composers, which allow them to recreate the magic inspired by their respective composers. It is no surprise that sight reading is a common aspect of musical competitions around the world. The best musicians in the world can play a musical piece almost perfectly the first time they experience it simply because they have mastered basic music comprehension. Reading music accurately and confidently is a highly envied skill amongst musicians around the world.

In conclusion, the importance of written comprehension of music is an irreplaceable asset for musicians. Without question, instructors should always include some type of musical analysis in each lesson to improve the confidence and overall knowledge of their aspiring musicians. Musicians appreciate music more when they understand the motivation behind their respective composers.

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