At its core, Music Theory is the understanding of the written manuscript. It is the knowledge of the symbols that make up music scores, and the knowledge of how to effectively translate them into sounds.
An understanding of music theory assists people who play music, rather than making them play better, it assists them to speak the same language as other members of their group.
So how do you help students learn it? how do you get across the critical parts of it, without overwhelming or making the student lose interest?
Aside from using effective Music theory worksheets, Here are a few effective methods which work in this area:
Important Idea #1 – Begin with the music, then move to theory.
Nearly all music teachers agree that music learning should start first with sound, and then move onto written understanding. Therefore it is important to always start with what something sounds like, then show the students why it is the way it is. For example if teaching chords it is very important for a student to know firstly how a major or minor chord sounds, the emotion that it is showing and the reasons why a major or minor chord might be chosen for a particular piece of music. Once they can hear the sound, and its reason for being the mechanical knowledge will follow.
Critical Concept Number Two – Learn one thing at a time
Music is a multidimensional language. How do I mean? Well it means that in order to read music many different pieces of information have to be taken in at one time. That is the thing that makes it most difficult. A note has both a pitch (what note it is), and a duration (how long it is played for). Add to that it also has a dynamic (how soft it is) and also expression marks that have to be read by the musician. That is why music can be so difficult to learn to understand music theory.
Critical Concept Number Three – Ensure it is always relevant
The final critical concept with music theory is to keep it relevant. The music that the student is currently learning is the music that should be used to connect with their music theory. For example if a student plays jazz music then they should study jazz music theory. The music that students are currently performing is what should be used as the basis for their theory lessons.
Hopefully if music teachers students can learn to approach the study of music theory with these primary concepts in mind then music lessons will be more fun and rewarding for music students of all ages.