MUSIC THEORY: TRAINED MUSICIANS VS UNTRAINED MUSICIANS (LYON BRAVE)
You may have just bought a guitar because of your desperate desire to be like Taylor Swift, and you are asking yourself if music theory necessary?! This is a good question, but it depends on how serious you are going to take music. If you just want to be able to do a couple pop covers at a camp fire or play at a few open mic nights, NO, you do not need music theory. However if your goal is to be a professional musician, music theory is going to make your journey a lot easier.
MUSIC THEORY is scary, intimidating, a license to be snotty and a source of drama in the music scene. MUSIC THEORY creates so much silent drama and tension in the music world it is comical. On one side you have your classical musicians, who are well trained and definitely loving theory, and started when they were four, but they tend to be less original and only able to reproduce music instead of creating something truly unique and original. How many times do we need to hear Mozart when there are a plenty of rocking and alive musicians?
We are not knocking the classics. In fact we are honoring them just by bringing them up, and we are not saying anything about music theory as a matter of fact, but a generalization. We live in a different world than the past and that requires a fresh musical sensibility. Orchestra music is lovely, but it has a tendency to put us to sleep. We still love Patsy Cline though that has nothing to do with orchestra music, but worn out love songs.
On another side of this discussion we have self taught musicians who play by ear, started when they were 16 or 20. If they really want to learn to play one of their favorite songs they watch a YouTube video. These artists tend to be able to play a few original songs, but they seem very limited in range and sometimes like they are just making noise instead of music.
Now, this is what we want to say, classic theory snobs, you are not better musicians just because you can read sheet music. Garage bands you are not better musicians just because you stumble across chords naturally and listen to a thousand different genres.
Stop fighting each other and pretending like you come from different worlds. You don’t. We all come from the world of music. Usually, when people say something all superior and snotty, like I am classically trained therefore I know more than you, it’s because they are insecure about their musical abilities so let it role off your shoulders.
The truth is if you have only studied classical music, whether you can read music or not you are very limited in your range and have an untrained ear because it is only used to hearing the dead and old. We think it’s important to do one thing well, but if you are a musician be a musician, don’t hide in a very limited old guy box where history just keeps being repeated.
In music it is important to be versatile and able to adjust. There is so much more to music than classical. Please expand your horizons.
Self taught musicians, I don’t care if you have written over 50 pieces of original music you are even more limited than someone who can read sheet music because you can’t read music. Yeah you might get lucky a few times, but it’s luck. If music is the craft you have chosen, respect your craft enough to learn it. Being able to read music will make it so you CAN jam with anyone, not just your closest friends.
I can tell you from personal experience I was intimidated by music theory, but then I made a commitment with myself to learn it. It comes naturally and easy. It’s not as scary as people make it sound. It really is no more complicated than learning your ABCs and very basic mathematics.
We are talking 3rd grade stuff you guys. It might take time to learn well, but anything worth doing takes patience, and you will be that much better of a musician for it because I am going to let you in on a little secret, if you learn music theory you will be able to play most instruments at a basic level. This will make you a more versatile artist and get you away from just being a bass player, which are so easy to make fun of.
Learning music theory will really open up doors for you. Instead of playing in one style you will be able to play what you really want, not what you are limited to.
Trained musicians this is what you got going for you, self taught musicians may never be able to catch up with your dexterity and technique and the fact that you can read music like your first language. You guys understand music on a visual level, but you may not understand it on all levels. Many of you guys have been training for so much longer and in a more traditional setting that it would take one hell of a self taught musician to catch up. You guys understand the numbers in music.
Self taught musicians this is what you got going for you. You guys are passionate as hell, and it takes balls to pick up an instrument that late in the game. It’s like entering a ten mile race, after most of the competitors just hit the six mile mark and you actually think you are going to catch up and win. Some of you might, but this is also what you guys have going for you. You guys listened to all kinds of music for years and years. You have trained your ear to be versatile. You understand music on an audio level, and a soul level, the soul level is why you just finally had to play, but you don’t understand it on a visual level yet.
To end on a positive note we think opposites of the spectrum should work together. Trained Musicians can teach self taught musicians how to be disciplined and prefect their craft, become more proficient and consistent in performance. Self taught musicians can teach trained musicians to sing from their soul, let go, and feel it, and stumble into brilliance that you only get when you are imperfect.