A lot of people find it very difficult to grasp the concept of music theory, even if they take proper music theory classes. The reason for this is that most people who want to learn about music theory can already play an instrument and think they have a good grasp of the theory. In reality, no matter how experienced they are as musicians, they are still beginners in the theory. This is why it is important to seek out classes that are suitable to your level.
Level 1 – The Basics
The basic of music theory, which is where you absolutely need to start, is note reading. You have to be able to understand music notation if you want to learn about music. You don’t have to go to college to learn this, however. In fact, if you were to go to music school, there is likely to be an expectation that you can already read notes. Luckily, there are lots of resources available online that you can use instead, and it shouldn’t take you long to grasp the concept.
Level 2 – The Intermediate
Once you can read notes, you will find it much easier to learn about other aspects of music theory as well. At this point, you may want to consider taking on more formal classes at college, although some may still be available online. What you will find if you use free online resources, however, is that intermediate levels tend to be focused not on the theory in general, but rather the theory based on a specific instrument.
At intermediate level, you should learn about keys and their signatures. You should also study the scales as appropriate to your instrument. Do also memorize the major and minor keys. After that, you can move on to chords, how they are structured, and why they exist. You must learn how you can turn chords into seventh and diminished chords and into majors and minors.
At this point, you should also figure out that there are chord patterns in music. These appear in all styles of music. This is why chord construction is so important to understand, as it will show you which order they should be in. This is also the point at which you may want to start writing some songs.
Level 3 – The Advanced
This is the point where you really should be going to college or university. Here, you will learn about advanced chord structures and what their complexities are, when they sound good, and when they should be avoided. You will also learn about modes, which is an alternative method of creating scales found not in the minor and major keys. If you hope to write your own music, learning advanced theory is absolutely necessary.
Did you know that you can even study music theory at Ph.D. level? While most people stop at undergraduate degree, this theory is so complex and wide that some people have literally dedicated their entire lives to it!