When it comes to learning music theory, your options of where to begin can appear to be endless. This article helps to narrow down where exactly you should start, and why starting in the first place is important.
Learning music theory for the very first time can be a bit of a daunting task. Theres endless things to learn (if you so choose), so where does one possibly begin? You definitely don't need to be a theory expert to play music, but there are a few basic things every player should know.
One of the first steps to learning music theory is taking a deep breath and accepting the fact that you don't know very much and that your knowledge it probably very limited as a beginner. A lot of people will go into learning theory already disappointed about how little they know, but trust me when I say that every single great guitar player started where you are.
While knowing very little is nothing to feel badly about, the sooner you get to learning the sooner all the amazing benefits of theory knowledge will reveal itself to you.
Theres a lot of false information thats spread around about how many great music legends never knew any theory. The truth is that without theory, these musicians would not have made it very far. Besides gaining a deeper understanding of your craft, learning music theory is useful in ways you may not of realized.
The following are some tips to get you started learning music theory on the right foot.
There is no such thing as "not being smart enough" for theory. Learning does not require you to have a four year degree and crippling student debt. Music theory is for everyone (not just the academic types) and all it takes is a little patience and determination.
So don't panic next time you hear someone talking about music theory, instead you should embrace it! The only thing holding you back from learning is yourself, and you are probably much more capable than you think. Theory is a wonderful tool that works to expand your musical language, so just enjoy the process and take in the knowledge at your own pace.
Figure Out What You Already Know
- Are you familiar with at least one scale?
- Are you able to strum a basic chord progression?
- Are you able to play simple rhythmic pattern?
The ability to do even one of the things listed above means you already know more music theory then you probably realize. As much as people try to avoid music theory, it is naturally engrained in many things including scales, rhythms, and chords. Whether or not you understand the reasoning behind what chords go together, an important first step is simply identifying how they sound.
The knowledge you already have should not be discredited just because you don't quite yet have a full understanding of it. Don't bring yourself down if you can't quite keep up with your more experienced guitar player friend. You are simply at a different point in your musical journey and you are more than capable to continue growing.
Slow And Steady
Its easy to begin looking into a book of music theory and think "Oh jeez I have so much to catch up on!". There is no need to fret. While the amount of things you can learn when it comes to music theory is endless, you by no means need to learn all of it. Don't overwhelm yourself by tackling the biggest hurdle first. You will want to focus on having a complete understanding of the basics before expanding your study.
There are many resources that can help you start small, including my eBook that is available for free on my website titled "Beginning Music Theory". This will help to narrow down the expansive world of music theory and provide you with a great place to start. Take on just a little every day and I promise you will notice an improvement in your musicianship.
Find Someone Who Knows What They Are Doing
The story goes that Hayden learned everything he knew about composition through books and self practice because he was too poor to pay for someone to teach him. In those days, poor meant not knowing if you were going to be eating that day and that a bit of rain could mean the total wreckage of your home. Chances are, if you are reading this article right now you have your next meal planned and your house is not on the verge of collapsing.
What i'm trying to say is that more than likely you ARE able to afford a teacher.
These days, there is an abundance places you can search locally for someone to teach you. Otherwise there are plenty of teachers that are available to you online. However, there are a few important things you want to keep in mind when choosing a teacher…
1. Make sure the teacher is a good communicator and can clearly teach you the things you want to learn (communication is KEY)
2. Make sure that the teacher is competent and knows how to play
3. Make sure that the teacher will help you achieve your goals (for instance, you probably don't want to learn rock music from a classical player)
Don't Wait Any Longer!
Now that you know exactly what you need to do to begin your music theory journey, don't put it off for a moment longer! Theres no time like the present to get started, and the above information should provide you with more than enough tools to do so.
All that you need to know is out there just waiting for you to learn it, so its time to get cracking! If you need any additional guidance, feel free to find me at the link below.
About the Author
Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for Music Theory applied to Guitar