Many students of music want or need to pass music theory exams and this course is very focused on enabling you to achieve that.
At the same time, theory is about much more than passing exams. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get inside the mind of a composer? Think of a piece that you’re working on or listening to at the moment. What inspired the composer to write it? When did the composer live and what are the features of musical style at that time? Then what did the composer need to think about in order to compose the piece?
Theory explores the ingredients that bring music to life and, contrary to the idea held by some that theory kills creativity, it’s theory that enables musicians to make sense of their musical ideas.
If we go back in time music was in the world well before anyone dreamt up music theory. So do we really need theory? After all, we can all enjoy music without needing to understand the nuts and bolts. Some musicians have the ability to perform and improvise without completely understanding the theory behind what they are doing. I can manage a few words and phrases in Italian but because I understand more grammar and vocabulary in French I get on much more successfully in French than I do in Italian. Because I understand even more grammar and vocabulary in my native tongue I get on considerably better in English than I do in French. The more we understand of a language, the more fluent we become, and music is often described as a language.
The interesting thing is that music theory was taken very seriously as far back as the time of the Ancient Greeks, who were keen to explain how music worked and to establish why certain approaches were more successful than others. Ever since, theory has continuously evolved to keep pace with explaining musical development.
Having taught music for over 40 years, my experience is that the more students understand theory, the more they understand and appreciate the music they perform, and the more excited, creative and engaged they become.
Don’t learn theory for the sake of learning theory. Engage with music as a listener, a performer, and/ or as a composer then grasp the theory that will equip you to reach your full potential as a musician. That’s what makes music theory so exciting! Enjoy!