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Is Learning Music Theory Useful for Musicians, Composers or Singers?

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Despite its name, many will agree that learning music theory is not essential to have a career in music. Generations of musicians, composers and singers have been successful in their craft without ever stepping foot into a classroom.

However, there are benefits to attending music theory classes that go beyond academic interest. Music theory can benefit you and your musical career in a variety of ways. We will be going into a few examples soon, but first let’s answer a  basic question.

What is music theory?

You’ll start by learning fundamental concepts; notes, pitch, tempo, rhythm, octave, scale, melody, musical notation, song structure and the role of different instruments.

Music theory is similar to English classes in this respect. Just like a native speaker learning grammar and pronunciation rules improves that person’s command over English, music theory advances the understanding of music structure and composition.

Classes are usually divided into three segments. First segment is the study of key rhythmic notations, time signatures and other basic concepts. Second one is analyzing classic and ancient music. Third one covers contemporary music.

Is there any practical advantage?

Yes there is! Learning music theory can help you along your music career in several ways.

You become more self-dependent: Having theoretical knowledge of music means that mastering complicated work is easier, in the same way knowing language fundamentals helps a person with new words. Once you know what the fundamentals are, you’ll also be able to spot weaknesses in your music.

You’ll be more creative: Music theory classes take you on a journey across the history of music. You will be exposed to generations of music, and different ideas about what makes for good music. With such a big pool to draw from, it’s easier to establish your own unique music and sound.

You can participate in discussions: Many musicians like to collaborate on songs and projects. Imagine then, that you tried to communicate your ideas to a fellow musician, but you didn’t know about musical composition or notation. More time would be spent trying to understand each other, instead of actually writing music together.

Just because you sit in music theory classes, doesn’t mean you’ll be a great musician, composer or singer. For that, you need to devote your time to practicing your craft. What music theory actually does is to broaden your understanding of its history, structure, composition and how music works.

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