Quite like mathematics, you either love music theory or hate it. Navigating music theory is like learning a new language – new vocabulary and characters, digesting a complex set of rules and exceptions. So it is really necessary? Can we enjoy a fruitful music education without music theory?
It may sometimes be viewed as difficult and a hassle for music students, and this is chiefly because music theory is one of the most elaborate, sophisticated and brilliant subjects. It is because of music theory that we are able to read Bach’s original manuscripts from the 17th century, Beethoven’s Symphonies from the 18th, and since then, little has changed. Above all, it is the same language spoken here, there, in every corner of the globe, then and now.
1. Improved logical reasoning
Music theory is based on a set of rules, much like mathematics. The clef tells you where to begin, the position of the notes on the grand staff tells you what notes to play and the shape and colour tells you how long to hold it for. Understand this and you can play just about anything that has ever been written. Music is logical and straightforward - music theory tells you how to express what is written on the page!
2. Play what you see, accurately
A piece of music usually has a melody and harmony. (What’s the difference? You probably need some music theory!) Did what you just played sound funny? Go back to the music and find out what went wrong! By understanding what was written on the page, your playing would be more accurate and beautiful. Need to add some shape and colour to the music, follow the dynamics and phrasing instruction penned by the composer! Use your knowledge from music theory to decipher them!
3. Improved sight-reading, learn your pieces faster
A firm understanding of intervals, forms and chord progressions will hasten the learning process. For instance, recognising the Sonata Form allows one to quickly decipher the exposition, development and recapitulation sections, observing repetitions and variations. This speeds the learning up by breaking the music up into sections and reducing the time needed to learn them.
4. Appreciate other music genres
Whilst the genres are many, the language is the same. In an age where music styles are crossing barriers and composers blur lines to create new styles and sounds, music theory helps us to understand the basic structure of harmony and rhythm. It gives us a common language to communicate across genres and mediums.
5. Improves cognition and memory
Neuromusicology is a branch of research that explores how our brains react to music. And the evidence is in - music and music theory activates every known part in the brain, improving our working memory, auditory skills and cognitive flexibility.
Fluency in music theory will certainly facilitate a better learning experience for music students. Besides, it is great fun to answer the questions right! Music Theory Exercises for Young Musicians from POCO Publications is colourful and engaging set of graded theory books, organising music theory into easy to manage topics for kids from 6 years old.
Students can expect plenty of drills and exercises as they go along the chapters in the book, organised by digestible topics. And after completing the extensive syllabus found in the book, students will be able to complete a specimen test which is based on the ABRSM exam format.
Registration for next year's ABRSM Theory Exam in March opens 1st May 2018.
ABRSM 2019 Music Theory Exams (Session Two)
Registration date: 1 May – 16 May 2018
Exam date: 3 August 2019, Saturday
Register your interest now! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +60-12-239 3873.