I’m really excited to see Dr. Joel Clifft’s series on music theory here on MajoringInMusic.com. (Music Theory for Music Majors: Why?) Music theory is a part of every music major’s curriculum because it has everything to do with being able to understand and perform music.
My son’s first piano teacher integrated theory into every lesson. He was one of the lucky ones — without even knowing it, he was given a foundation that has served him well. Thank you Peggy Deel! But for those who get a later start, it’s more like learning a foreign language. The concepts are harder to grasp, and the process may be painstaking.
Not everyone is excited about having to take music theory. Some look at it the way they did Algebra 1 — with trepidation and even dread. But there’s no reason to be scared silly by music theory, nor to be in a position to change your major because you feel like everyone else has a better understanding than you. If theory is not your strong suit, take the time to hone your skills. According to Dr. Clifft, those who are at least somewhat fluent in music theory, will find college level courses achievable.
There are a number of websites dedicated to teaching music theory. They’re worth checking out. On that note, a number of college music majors we’ve talked with have found Dr. Clifft’s iPhone app, Music Theory Pro!, to be a useful review tool. His website also includes instructional videos for beginners in plain and easy-to-grasp language.