My first experiences with learning an instrument was based on two things: sheet music and learning by ear. While those two traits are very helpful in the world of music, I was missing a very vital element that would help me in learning multiple instruments.
When I started learning guitar when I was 12 or 13, I was fortunate enough to have a teacher that taught me some of the basics of music theory. I was then able to transpose songs and even teach myself some chords on the piano. Despite all that, there were still some holes in my foundational understanding of music theory.
In my second year in the school of worship, music theory became a required course for all students. In addition, we were learning some theory in our piano class. Many students complained about learning theory, but I was grateful to finally be able to put together the pieces that I had learned in the years past. During my last quarter, I even studied to test out of taking theory.
As a musician, I think it’s important to know theory because it’s something that puts everyone on the same page. I’ve found myself frustrated while trying to songwrite with people who are talented, but have no idea what they’re playing. It’s also necessary for spontaneous moments of worship and even recording.
Learning music theory can be a long, hard battle, but professionals will take you seriously when you know what you’re talking about and doing. If you’re a musician, being faithful to your craft includes learning theory. Everyone else will thank you for it.