Music Monday: Teaching Myself Music Theory

noten lernen

Every musician can benefit from knowing basic music theory, which is the study of music and its elements (pitch, harmony, melody, etc.) Whether we’re writing a song, in a band, or having a jam session, we need to know what we’re talking about. Music theory is the “language” that musicians use to communicate with each other.

After the basics, however, things get complicated. Starting in elementary I learned the basics but couldn’t for the life of me get a grip on more advanced topics like intervals (the distance between two notes). I took a music theory class in college but dropped out because it was too difficult. Even my guitar teacher had a hard time teaching me haha! So after that I forgot about it and didn’t bother with it anymore, even though my teacher and I dabbled in transposing (changing the key of a song) and other theory stuff.

Well, last month I decided that I wanted/needed to learn the notes on the guitar fretboard, so I thought to start tackling music theory again, but on my own. I figured that if I know more theory that I’ll be a much better guitarist because then I’ll understand what’s coming out of my guitar and since I’m gearing up for jam sessions, I’ll be more prepared.

So I bought a notebook and started with the thing that I dreaded the most, intervals. Thanks to Google, learning the stuff has been much easier the second time around. (I remember showing my teacher a paper on intervals, and he said that it “sounds like law”). And so has learning how to construct scales, finding the chords in a key, the circle of fifths…Google and a few articles has helped me a LOT. Of course, there’s still work to do and I need to put all of this into practice, but at 26 music theory is making sense!!! (Why couldn’t I get this stuff at 19?)

Anybody else teaching themselves something that they couldn’t understand years ago, and are finally getting it? Any musicians teaching themselves theory? Let me know in the comments!

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