Learning music theory will, most likely, improve your playing by a great deal. Fortunately, you can pick up the most important parts of music theory on your own and start using them right away.
A lot of people ask themselves “Can I learn music theory on my own?” The simple answer to this question is yes, you can. In today’s world, where you can find anything on the internet, a simple search for music theory on Google will provide you with millions of results.
Why You Should Learn Music Theory
You’ve probably already read that a lot of famous musicians didn’t bother with learning music theory, so why should you? What they don’t tell you is that for every musician that became successful without learning it there are hundreds, if not thousands, that didn’t.
First of all, studying music theory will allow you to understand what you are playing. Music isn’t just a bunch of random noises in a sequence that just happen to sound good. Each composition is made out of notes that follow mathematical relationships. This makes it sound organized and pleasing to the ears. In time, this will help you correctly write your music and even improve other compositions
Another great advantage of learning music theory is that it will increase your creativity. Some people say that rules kill creativity, but when it comes to music, it’s the rules that make it sound good. Nothing forces you to be more creative than having a set of parameters around you.
Where to Start Learning From
The best place to learn music theory today is, of course, online. You have access to tons of resources, from articles to Youtube videos or complete courses, some of them even free of charge. Just go to any of the dedicated websites and start reading or listening.
Additionally, you’ll also find great communities, on forums or Reddit for example, with people willing to teach you some, if not everything relating to the basics of music theory. Finding another musician to teach you, especially free of charge, is a great way to learn music theory because you will always have someone to direct your question to or get some helpful tips. Just keep in mind that while people are willing to teach you, they won’t be as useful as a paid teacher.
Tips for Learning on Your Own
Before you start learning music theory on your own, here are some tips to help you speed up the process.
Select your instrument carefully
Each of us enjoys a certain type of music, so you’ll most likely be tempted to start learning what you like. The same goes for the instrument. If you’re into rock, for example, don’t pick up the saxophone. While doing covers of Guns N’Roses on your sax might be possible, it certainly wouldn’t be as fun and engaging as doing them on an electric guitar or drums. You should also pick the instrument while keeping in mind your lifestyle. If you live in a small apartment, it’s probably better to get a guitar than a set of drums.
Get rid of all distractions
Nothing ruins a learning session more than distractions. While you are studying or practicing on your instrument you should avoid texting, having the tv turned on in the background, etc. It should just be about you and your music. This, of course, requires some degree of self-discipline. Try placing a timer in front of you while you study and make sure you focus solely on your music until the clock runs out. The sessions shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes. Any longer and you will completely lose focus.
Set a schedule
The best way to learn music theory on your own is to practice regularly. This is why you need to set a clear schedule. If you’re going to do it just when you have some spare time, you will probably end up with very few learning sessions. Instead, you should free up some time from your schedule and study regularly. Just remember to be a bit flexible with your schedule. Sometimes, you might have something more important to do during your set study time. Just remember to reschedule your lesson.
Pay attention to your posture
While practicing for the first few times you will most likely be in an uncomfortable and tense position, which, in time, can lead to injuries. One of the first things you should learn after purchasing your instrument is how to have a correct posture.
Set realistic goals
As you start learning music theory you should keep in mind that you will not become as good as your favorite musician overnight. It takes patience and years of practice to achieve this level. But, with regular practice and dedication, you will certainly be able to reach a level of competency which will allow you to impress your friends and family or even begin a career in the music industry.
You can’t do it all on your own
While the internet is indeed filled with all the information you need, learning by yourself does have some limitations. Yes, you can easily learn all the fundamentals, like triads, scales, notation, seventh chords, key signatures, Roman numerals, or time signatures, but when it comes to more advanced things, like Schenkerian analysis or counterpoint, you should look for a teacher. The problem isn’t that you can’t comprehend the definitions or facts, but that you can’t properly apply them without guidance and good examples.
Fortunately, it’s easy to find a teacher too. There are some websites through which you can hire a private teacher and the prices are pretty affordable. An online held lesson can start as low as $15 and can go as high as $100, depending on the experience of the teacher.
Learning music theory is something you can certainly do on your own. The internet is full of helpful resources, paid or free, and even communities of people willing to help. While learning the basic concepts is something that you can easily do on your own when you get to the more advanced lessons you should consider hiring a teacher. You can find one easily online and it only costs $15 per lesson.