Think Music Theory Is Too Hard? Here’s Why

In my opinion (as a 35+ year music professional), music theory is taught in the most confusing and painful way imaginable. One example of this, students are often confronted with multiple sets of systems to described the same thing in different classes.

For example, Scale Degrees are referenced using numbers (0-9) in private lessons, roman numerals (both upper and lower case) in analysis, terms like Tonic, Submediant, Dominant, etc. when you get to theory class, and something called “Solfege” (Do-Re-Mi) in ear training. Too often the student has no idea all these systems are referring to the same basic thing, scale degrees. And this is just one example!

Scale Degree Naming Schemes…

Numbers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Names: Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant, Leading Tone
Roman: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII
Solfege: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti

Can Music Theory be made easier to understand?

Yes it can. All it really takes is boiling theory down to its simplest form. Then, present it in a uniform way, much easier to understand. For example. Let’s take a better approach to Scale Degree presentation mentioned above.

Instead of using different systems for private lessons, analysis, music theory class, and ear training, we could use standard numbers (0-9) for all of them. We’ve removed the obstacles of having to learn solfege (including all the solfege names for notes not in the scale), english names for each scale degree, proper use of upper and lower case roman numerals, etc., BEFORE any functionality of music can be learned. We get right down to business using a system every student is already familiar with, the numbers 0-9. Again, this is just one example.

With consistency across the board, all of this can be learned and retained easily. If planning on attending college where all these terms will be needed, you can always learn these terms and systems AFTER you understand how music works. Believe me, it is MUCH EASIER that way!

3 Reasons Why Guitar Players With Limited Practice Time Don’t Make Much Progress

Having limited time to practice guitar is not the main reason why you aren’t making much progress. Here are the real reasons why guitarists with limited time struggle to get better:

1. Not Even Trying Due To Self-Sabotaging Beliefs

Many guitar players don’t feel like they have enough practice time to become a good player. They think: “You have to practice a lot to become good, but I don’t have enough time to practice so there is no point in even trying.” Unfortunately, this causes many guitarists to never make any progress, make very slow progress or quit altogether.

Fact: getting better on guitar is about quality over quantity. Great guitarists focus on getting the most from every second of their practice time, rather than practicing as much as possible. It’s true that some guitar players practice many hours every day with the goal of getting better. However, this doesn’t mean it works for them. When you focus on doing the best you can with the time you have, you quickly begin seeing results like never before. Work together with a guitar teacher to learn how to practice efficiently with your time and get the most out of your efforts.

2. Not Practicing As Effectively As Possible

No matter how much time you have to practice, you get better results when you practice effectively. Many guitarists do not understand how to practice effectively, fill their practice time with mindless noodling and/or practice in an unorganized manner. When your guitar practice is effective and efficient, you make progress no matter how much time you have. Practicing in this manner for just 20 minutes a day easily gets better results than what most guitarists get practicing several hours every day.

Make your practice as effective as possible by finding and working with an experienced guitar teacher who will create a custom lessons strategy for you.

3. They Don’t Practice Away From Guitar

A lot can be done away from your guitar to improve your musical skills. Many guitarists don’t realize this and miss out on a huge opportunity to improve. Practicing away from your guitar increases the amount of practice time you have and makes your time with the guitar more efficient. This helps you make faster progress. A few examples of things you can work on away from your instrument include: learning music theory, improving fretboard memorization/visualization or songwriting.

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a successful professional guitar player, composer and international guitar teacher. He also helps musicians learn guitar online and reach their guitar playing goals. Visit his rock and metal guitar lessons site to read more articles about guitar playing, plus get free guitar tips and guitar playing resources.