Piano Player World

Learning Music Theory in Piano

(Scroll down to see the full list of lessons in this section)

theory for pianistsIt is nearly impossible for any pianist to continue playing a piano if they do not know music theory. Music theory is the study of how the language and notation of music works.

In last 60 years, contemporary music has made learning music theory unnecessary. But in years past, you couldn’t call yourself a musician if you didn’t have a thorough understanding of music theory.

When sheet music became obsolete and more simplistic music became dominant, the need for learning how to read sheet music went the way of the dinosaurs. However, the need for learning music theory has never stayed strong for pianists. Although it may seem intimidating at first, music theory is easy to learn on the piano.

Learning basic music theory is an easy process; it can even be done without the aid of a teacher. Free online classes and other resources can help form a basic understanding of music theory. If you are continuing the self taught route, an investment in college level textbooks or computer programs can help aid in the learning process more effectively than mindless recitation.

If the opportunity to learn from music professionals is possible, like an extended campus class at a local college or private instructor, it may be easier to take lessons instead of teaching yourself. These teachers are also particularly helpful because they will teach you music theory using a piano in the classroom setting.

No matter how you learn music theory, transferring it to the piano can take some getting used to. So it is very important that any new knowledge acquired must be applied to the piano right away. One tip is to apply little stickers with the names of the notes on the corresponding keys.

perfect pitch

scores and musicWhen the names of the keys are known, the process of applying new music theory knowledge becomes much easier. The use of a metronome is extremely important for learning note duration. Because metronomes are adjustable, you can also help your finger independence and rhythm by speeding up or slowing down your lessons and exercises.

Once a better understanding of where the notes are on the piano, learning scales and keys can become easier. Studying scales and where they are on the piano can also aid in finger independence.

Like learning note duration, repeating scales on a piano will help your finger independence through repetition. By repeating the same scale several times, fingers become independent and also associate which keys mean which note.

Applying music theory to the piano can help beyond just learning how to read sheet music. Music theory lessons help increase finger independence, hand coordination, rhythm and compositional skills. Learning music theory is important and applying it to the piano can reinforce and secure this new knowledge.

Playing catch-up can make the process of learning the piano really stressful and arduous. When looking for a way to learn music theory, consider how you learn. There are some that learn better on their own. If you are one of those people then invest in some books and other media that will help you.

However, not everyone can learn this way effectively. When looking for a class or a private tutor makes sure that they are able to help you apply your music theory lessons to the piano. No matter how you learn piano, there needs to be a way you can practically apply your new knowledge to the piano.

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Listing of Lessons on Piano Theory:

  1. The Piano Grand Staff and Its Clefs
    In the first lesson to music theory, we cover the basics of reading the grand staff and understanding how the clefs will dictate the notes on the staves.
  2. Understanding Key Signatures
    One of the most confusing aspects to reading music notation lies in the understanding of key signatures. To help the newer players, this lesson will cover this topic in more details.
  3. Understanding Time Signatures
    Whenever you glance over a piece of sheet music, you will definitely be able to see 2 numbers at the beginning of the piece of music. This fraction looking like number is called the time signature.
  4. How to Read Segno and Coda Marks
    Dal Segno marks are symbols on sheet music that indicates a repeat of a particular section of music.
  5. Accidentals in Piano Playing
    An accidental in music theory refers to a symbol on the sheet music where a note is to be played a half step higher or a half step lower.
  6. How a Major Scale is Formed on Piano
    If you want to truly master the piano, a good understanding of music theory is a must. To achieve that big goal, we need to start small. The major scale is the most fundamental of musical knowledge that you need to learn.
  7. How to Draw a Circle of Fifths
    The circle of 5ths is a handy diagram that is used to help students visualize the relationship between the minor and major keys used in music. To aid you in effective learning, learning how to draw one would help you understand key relationships and chordal harmony better.
  8. How to Play Dotted Notes
    Throughout the course of learning and playing music, you will definitely come across dotted lines or notes. What this means is that you will need to increase the duration of the note by half the time that it is supposed to be played.
  9. How to Read Simple Musical Repeats
    Finding a repeat sign in music is quite common place in music. The reason behind is that it shortens and simplifies the length of the sheet music. Depending on the mode of usage and occurrence, the music could be repeated at different points of the song.
  10. Physical Dynamics of Piano Playing
    By applying dynamics into your piano playing, you can create your own individual identity. The use of dynamics in a song could also spice up the playing and add flavors to the style.
  11. What is an Acciaccatura?
    The acciaccatura note on a piano is essentially a "crushed" note. On the piano, the idea behind it is similar to that of a grace note with the difference in that it should be played as quickly as possible.
  12. Examinations - Getting Certifications for Piano Playing
    Unlike other professions, musicians do not really need a certificate to find work. However, getting certifications for your piano playing can allow you to gauge your musicianship in an objective manner.
  13. Rules for Good Sight Reading on Piano
    Why do we need to learn sight reading? Well, how would you like it if you are able to sit in front of a piano with any piece of sheet music and begin playing that song anytime and anywhere?
  14. Sustain Pedal Marks
    Sustain pedal marks on a sheet music dictates how long you should keep the strings dampen to sustain the notes played. Read this lesson for more details...
  15. Advanced Music Theory
    Now that we have been through the basics of musical knowledge, we will cover some advanced stuff where we apply theory in practical playing. With a good mastery of advanced theory, you can play along to melodies and harmonies.