Easy Guide to Learning Music Theory (Part 2)

Did you know that learning music theory gives you the ability to converse with other musicians from different parts of the world? That’s because it is the global language of music. By becoming literate in music theory, we can discuss music in practical and meaningful ways with others.

Learning Music Theory

Ways to Make Learning Music Theory Fun

Music theory doesn’t have to be dry or boring. You can actually start to enjoy learning about music theory! Who knows, you might even find yourself becoming a music theory expert in no time.

Here are six ways to make music theory more enjoyable:

1. Find a partner to practice music theory with.

One way is to find a music theory partner. This can be a friend, family member, or even a music teacher. Having someone to help you with music theory will make the process more enjoyable and less daunting.

2. Play games.

Another way to make music theory more fun is to use games and activities. There are many music theory apps and websites that offer games and activities to help you learn. By using these resources, you can make learning music theory more interactive and enjoyable.

3. Join a music theory class.

Another way is to take a music theory class from a music school or college. Having a good music theory teacher can make all the difference. If you’re struggling to understand music theory, or just want to learn more about it, finding a teacher who can explain things in a way that makes sense to you can be incredibly helpful.

4. Join a band or orchestra and learn music theory.

You can also join a band or orchestra and learn music theory together with other musicians. The more you use music theory, the better you’ll become at it. And, as you get better at music theory, you’ll be able to use it to improve your playing.

5. Listen to music.

This may seem obvious, but listening to music is a great way to learn about music theory. As you listen to music, pay attention to the various elements at work. Not only will you be able to hear how the different elements of music theory come together, but you’ll also start to develop a better understanding of the music you listen to. By listening to music, you can also get a better feel for the rhythm and flow of music, which will make learning music theory more enjoyable.

6. Use music theory to compose your own music.

Finally, one of the best ways to learn music theory is to use it to compose your own music. By writing your own music, you’ll be able to apply the music theory concepts you’ve learned in a practical way. And, as you get better at composing your own music, you’ll find that music theory becomes more and more fun. Creating your own music keeps things interesting.

Common Music Theory Mistakes

If you’re new to music theory, the vast array of terms and concepts can be intimidating. And even if you’ve been studying music theory for a while, it’s easy to make mistakes.

Let’s go over six of the most common music theory mistakes so you can avoid them in your own learning:

1. Thinking that music theory is only for classical music

A widespread mistake people make is thinking that music theory is only for classical music. This is probably the worst because people stop learning even before trying. In fact, music theory can be applied to any type of music, including pop, rock, and jazz.

2. Confusing key signatures and time signatures

One common music theory mistake is confusing key signatures and time signatures. Key signatures tell you which notes are sharp or flat for the entire piece, while time signatures tell you how many beats are in a measure and what kind of note gets one beat.

3. Not being able to identify intervals

Another music theory mistake is not being able to identify intervals. Intervals are the distance between two notes, and being able to identify them is crucial for understanding music theory.

4. Not knowing the difference between major and minor

Not knowing the difference between major and minor is a music theory mistake that can trip up even experienced musicians. Major chords have a bright, happy sound, while minor chords have a sad, melancholy sound. If you’re not sure which one is which, try humming a major chord and then a minor chord and see which one sounds better to you.

5. Not being able to count rhythms

Another music theory mistake that’s common among beginners is not being able to count rhythms. Being able to count rhythms is important for being able to play music accurately. A lot of music theory is based on rhythm, so if you can’t identify simple rhythms, you’re going to have a hard time with music theory overall.

6. Not being able to read music

Finally, if you want to learn music theory, you need to be able to read music. We can start with the basics by learning musical notation. This will give us a strong foundation on which to build our musical skills.

While making mistakes is part of the learning process, being aware of these mistakes can save yourself a lot of time and frustration by avoiding these common music theory mistakes.

Musical Notation

In music, notation is a set of symbols that indicate how a song should be played. The main purpose of notation is to provide a written record of music so that it can be played back at a later time. Notation also allows music to be shared between different musicians.

Did you know that this is something you learn as a child? We can be hopeful as we think about music theory, knowing that we can either relearn or learn for the first time how to read musical notation!

Notation consists of two main elements: pitch and rhythm. Pitch notation indicates the highness or lowness of a note, while rhythm notation indicates the duration and tempo of a note.

There are various types of musical notation, but in this lesson we’ll focus on “standard notation” that employs a 5-line musical staff. So let’s take a look at how to read standard notation.

The Staff

The first thing you’ll notice about standard notation is that it uses a series of horizontal lines and spaces.

The line represents a certain pitch, with the higher the line, the higher the pitch. As the music is played, time passes from left to right. Sheet music is built on this concept of grid lines and uses them for placing two key aspects of song: pitch and time.

You will also find vertical lines through the music, these are called bar lines. They mark off measures, or sections of music. Single bar lines mark the end of a measure, while double bar lines mark the end of a song section.

Musical Clefs

Clefs are placed at the beginning of a song and they indicate what pitch each line and space represents. There are two main types of clefs: the treble clef and the bass clef.

The treble clef, also called the “G clef”, is used for high pitches. The bass clef, also called the “F clef”, is used for low pitches.

Time and Key Signatures

A time signature is a symbol that indicates how many beats are in a measure and what type of note gets one beat. The top number tells you how many beats there are in a measure, while the bottom number tells you what type of note gets one beat.

For example, a time signature with the top number “four” and the bottom number “four” means that there are four beats in a measure and the quarter note gets one beat.

A key signature is a symbol that indicates which notes will be sharp or flat for the rest of the song. Key signatures are placed at the beginning of a song, between the clef and time signature.

Musical Notes and Rests

Notes are symbols that indicate a specific pitch and duration. In standard notation, notes are represented by round symbols called “note heads”. The note head is placed on one of the lines or spaces of the staff to indicate pitch.

The stem is a vertical line that extends from the note head. The stem can either point up or down.

The flags are small hooks that are attached to the stem. They indicate the duration of a note. The more flags there are, the shorter the note.

Rests are symbols that indicate silence for a specific duration. Just like notes, rests have different symbols that indicate different durations. The whole rest is the longest duration, followed by the half rest, then the quarter rest, and so on.

Musical Alphabet

In music, we use the letters A through G to represent the different pitches. These pitches are also called “notes”. Here is a list of all the notes in the musical alphabet:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G

The distance between these musical alphabet letters are known as “whole step” and “half step” intervals. A whole step interval is the distance between two adjacent notes on the musical alphabet. A half step interval is the distance between two notes that are next to each other. All notes in the musical alphabet, with the exception of B-C and E-F, are a whole step apart.

Accidentals: Sharps and Flats

In music, sharp (♯) and flat (♭) symbols are used to indicate that a note should be raised or lowered by a semitone. A sharp symbol indicates that the note should be raised by one semitone, while a flat symbol indicates that the note should be lowered by one semitone.

There are 12 notes in music, including the accidentals:

A, A♯/B♭, B, C, C♯/D♭, D, D♯/E♭, E, F, F♯/G♭, G, G♯/A♭

The note A♯/B♭ can be referred to as either A-sharp or B-flat. These two notes are the same pitch, just with different names. The same goes for all the other pairs of sharps and flats.

Putting it All Together

Now that you know the basics of music theory, you can start putting it all together to read and write sheet music. Just remember that practice makes perfect! The more you work at it, the easier it will become.

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