Here’s How to Learn Music Theory and Improve Your Skill Level

February 25, 2021

Are you looking to improve your understanding of music? Or do you want to build on the skills you’ve been learning in piano lessons? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should learn music theory!

We’ve put together a collection of information you might find interesting if you’re considering learning music theory. Check it out, and if you want to take lessons, submit a request on Bidvine.

What Is Music Theory?

Put simply, music theory is the study of the different elements of music. Think of it as the language of music, or the fundamentals of composition. Music theory covers everything from notes and scales to rhythm and timbre.

Many say that music theory is essential to learn before one can compose music. While there are some prodigies who can compose music without knowing the theory, they are one in a million. So, if you want to get into music composition or even learn more about the art of music, you should learn music theory.

We’ve put together a bit of detail on each major element of music theory, but there is much more to learn. The information we’re sharing only scrapes the surface of what you’ll study when you start to learn music theory.


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Notes are the symbols seen on sheet music, and if they are silent, they are called rests. They are organised on a stave in scales, intervals, and chords. These elements make up melodies, harmonies, and songs.

Musical notes range from A to G, the white keys on a keyboard, forming an octave (eight notes). Between the notes are sharps and flats, which are signified by black keys on a keyboard. Flats are half a pitch lower than the note above it, and sharps are half a pitch higher than the note below it.

Scales and Keys

A key is what shapes the sound of a piece of music. It is made up of a series of notes, forming either a major or a minor sound. Each key has a scale of its notes, from which intervals and chords will be drawn.

Keys are denoted at the beginning of a stave and are applicable until a key change. A key can completely change the sound of a piece of music, which is why they are so important to learn and understand.


An interval is a distance between two notes. They can be perfect, major, minor, dissonant, or augmented. When you learn music theory, you will study the differences between these variations.

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A chord is a combination of two or more intervals or three or more notes. Chords form the basis of music, and can build the harmony of a piece of music. Guitar players will often play chords, so you will definitely study them in guitar lessons.


Rhythm is the placement of notes and rests in music, and it is affected by the length and pattern of notes. Two melodies can have identical notes and rests, but if they are different lengths, the sound will be completely different.


The term timbre refers to the colour of music or the feeling behind a note. It’s what makes two notes of the same pitch different.

What Are Some Misconceptions About Music Theory?

Many people say that learning music theory is boring, or that it isn’t important. That just isn’t true. When you learn music theory, you learn about the art of music and improve your listening skills.

Another misconception is that you don’t need to know music theory to be able to write music. While there is always a chance that you may be a musical prodigy, it’s more likely that you’ll need to understand the fundamentals. After all, you wouldn’t try to write an essay in a language you didn’t know, would you?

What Are the Subsets of Music Theory?

In the world of music, one size does not fit all. There are different types of music theory, but the two you are most likely to learn are classical and jazz. They evolved from different styles and use different elements to make up a unique type of music.

What Are The Subsets of Music Theory

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How will it help you?

Learning music theory will improve your listening skills, as well as your understanding of music in general. It will help you comprehend the music you are learning in your other lessons, whether they be piano, violin, or guitar.

If you want to pursue music in university or beyond, you’ll need to learn music theory. Many music schools require formal testing for admission, which involves theory. We’ll talk more about testing later in this article.

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Do you want to compose music?

Understanding music theory will help you composing music, as you have to learn a language before writing in it. There is a subset of music that is experimental and doesn’t adhere to the same rules as traditional music. But, it still requires an understanding of basic music theory.

Let’s look at some famous film composers. One was traditionally trained, and one was self-taught, both have successful careers. It’s time to compare Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore.

Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer composed the soundtracks for some huge Hollywood films. His credits include the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Inception, and the Dark Knight trilogy.

Zimmer was not educated in music, as he began piano lessons at a young age but quickly quit them. He did not enjoy the strict environment of musical lessons, so he is self-taught. Zimmer is now a hugely successful film composer and is well-respected in his field. He even won an Academy Award for his score of The Lion King (1995).

Howard Shore

Howard Shore wrote the scores for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as The Hobbit trilogy. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Shore also wrote the original theme song for Saturday Night Live.

Shore studied music from a young age and learned how to play multiple instruments. He studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

How should you get started?

First thing’s first. Request a bid for music theory lessons on Bidvine, and you’ll receive up to five bids from teachers near you. When you find a teacher that works for you, meet with them and hire them! For some advice on hiring a piano teacher, which also applies to hiring a music theory teacher, check out this article.

Making the decision to learn music theory will only add to your music education experience. Request free bids today on Bidvine!

Here's How to Learn Music Theory and Improve Your Skill Level - Sheet Music

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When you learn music theory, how will you be tested?

A major authority in music education in the UK is the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). They set the standard for music education in the UK, and “support high-quality music-making and learning around the world.”

The ABRSM administers exams on each instrument as well as music theory, at various grade levels. They also offer diplomas and group assessments, for ensembles and choirs.

Improving your skills through the ABRSM’s curriculum will help with your admissions to any of the Royal Schools of Music. It will also help you study music abroad if you choose.

For more information on the ABRSM, click here.

Did our article on music theory pique your interest? Submit a free request for music theory lessons on Bidvine and get custom, detailed bids!

Further Reading

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Music theory can help you when you're learning every other instrument. So, what do you need to know before you learn music theory? Check out our tips.

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