When do we learn music theory?

Published: May 17, 2017  |   Category: Inspiration

I got this question the other day from a parent and I answered something like - it comes a bit later, I don't teach it as a separate subject, but alongside our songs as needed and especially when we do the accompaniment program, you learn as part of the program about chords and where they fit in. That was satisfactory enough for both of us. But... I got thinking.

When the word theory came up my first thought was about how I was taught - a a separate subject, within an exam structure. That is what I call the traditional way of learning. It worked for me up to a point but it all got too much like hard work and not much to do with music.  A bit like learning the grammar without learning the language. 

As a licensed Simply Music teacher, my teaching is playing-based from the start. From the very first lesson students learn a sweet sounding song, that they can sing along with or just enjoy playing, and more great songs are added from the classical, pop, blues and accompaniment genres. The process is very hands-on, and the first bit of theory  is taught with the basics - that is the note names and basic chord structure - that is introduced a the first lesson. And that is all that is needed at that point.

After the first few songs covering classical, pop and blues, the first accompaniment is taught. Now we are learning more about chords and basic song structure.  It is theory, in fact it is the first bit of music reading, not music notation, but a lead sheet, which is common in pop music. So, the eager student who wants to play along with others, like in a band, can now join in.

So, to come back to the question, when do we learn theory, well my answer should have been, you already are learning theory, but that is not what we call it. It is called playing piano.


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