What Are the Best Tips for Learning Music Theory?

Beginning with basic concepts, translating those concepts into more easily recognizable common names, and understanding those concepts in practical terms learning to play a musical instrument are the best tips for learning music theory. For beginners, basic theory lessons can be taught from a textbook or through online programs. Students learn technical music terms faster comparing them to common words and sounds, which provides fun ways to remember each one. Music theory also serves as a foundation for playing and enjoying music, as well as a means of improving instrument mastery.

Individuals interested in learning music theory should start with the fundamentals and build from there. It’s similar to learning mathematics to grasp this subject. Every note in music has a numerical component that tells the musician how long to play it or how long to rest it. The notes are organized into individual segments called measures, each of which can only hold a certain number of note values. The sum of each note and rest value must equal one whole measure.

Students can find beginner music theory lesson materials online, as well as order books on the subject from music websites and local bookstores. Following the introduction of new concepts, the best resources for learning music theory will provide areas for the student to duplicate what she has just learned on blank musical staff paper. For example, if one chapter of the material focuses on understanding quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes, the student should be guided at the end of the chapter to draw several measures in a basic 4/4 time signature that include each type of note. This approach is similar to that of math textbooks, which provide practice problems at the end of each new section that require students to apply newly learned problem-solving techniques.

Some students may find it helpful to give musical technicalities common names to help them remember them. In that they are both rhythmic, music and everyday speech have a lot in common. Words can be broken down into individual syllables in the same way that music notes have assigned values. Most children learn to speak long before they begin learning music theory, and when new musical concepts are structured within a framework they already understand, they can pick them up quickly.

One method of translating music into more understandable terms is to teach note values using syllables and common words. Two eighth notes are equal to one quarter note. When rhythmically clapped correctly with the hands, a new musician may struggle to understand what two eighth notes followed one quarter note will sound like. They are more likely to be familiar with the word “butterscotch,” which produces a rhythm that is identical to two eighth notes followed a quarter note when clapped according to each syllable. Some music theory textbooks for beginners include this type of instruction.

Learning to play a musical instrument should be combined with learning music theory. The goal of music theory is to gain a better understanding of the concepts that guide music’s composition and performance. Students can apply the facts they learn in a theory book playing them on a piano, flute, trumpet, or any other instrument they prefer. This method teaches the ear to recognize musical values based on their functions in various melodies and harmonies. Soon, the eye learns to translate two measures of straight sixteenth notes into a lively and fast section of music for the mind’s ear.