Music theory training starts with learning the vocabulary and language of music. Each element can be understood as written in music notation, on the instrument, and when heard in sound. These three ways of knowing and understanding are not easily connected because the paths of learning differ for each. The instrument is learned by demonstration and physical motion. Learning music notation requires knowledge of staff and written symbols. Ear training requires that the concepts of pitch, interval, scale, and chord be connected with sound. The results of not connecting ear training, instrument study, and music reading leave musicians with limited skills. It is easy to go down one path and lose sight of another. Thus we have musicians that play by ear but cannot read music or those that read but cannot play by ear or improvise. Music students who combine music theory lessons with instrument study and ear training tend to make the most progress and become the most versatile musicians because these skills reinforce one another.
There are as many starting points for music theory training as there are music lesson methods. Some methods start with learning notes. Others start with learning direction and interval. Some start with demonstration and student repetition on their instrument. Some start with matching pitch and playing by ear. Progress is made when these different paths cross and a connection is made between sound, performance, and concept. As students start out along one of these paths they may develop strengths in one area and a weakness in another. Music theory training fills the great need of balancing the different ways of understanding music and making the connections between them. Music theory training also builds the vocabulary needed to understand more advanced concepts of music theory.
Piano music theory is the standard for all musicians no matter what instrument they play. This is because it is easy to understand music theory lessons when they are shown on the keyboard. Guitar music theory is much harder to grasp because of the layout of notes on the fingerboard. MusicGoals Eye and Ear music theory software gives students a means to isolate and develop each skill and concept. The drills present each element without rhythm in separate activities for instrument study, ear training, and sight-reading. MusicGoals Eye and Ear offers both piano and guitar music theory in a way that balances instrument study, ear training, and music reading. Advanced students may choose to work on ear training or instrument study or reading or choose their own goals. MusicGoals Rhythm isolates rhythm away from pitch and instrument.
Music theory lessons help students develop a vocabulary and understanding of music applied to sound, music staff, and instrument. Students make the most progress when music lessons add a balance of ear training, music reading, and instrument study. This is because these three ways of knowing music reinforce one another. MusicGoals music theory software provides drill and response activities that give immediate feedback. Adding MusicGoals music theory software to a practice routine will speed up learning because it isolates and then combines the different ways of knowing music – by eye, by ear, and on the instrument.
Here is an example of music theory - half step, whole step, and tetrachord on a string instrument.
The tetrachord is easy to understand and see on one string. However, when another string is added, there are other ways to show this pattern. These patterns change when different strings are involved. This makes it harder to recognize chords, scales, and intervals on a string instrument.
On keyboard tetrachords always follow the sequential pattern along five adjacent half steps.