1. Music theory will help you get creative
Many people believe that music theory is superfluous, often seen as a set of strict rules that stifle our creativity and freedom of expression. Wrong! A musician who knows the ‘rules’ can apply them when they see fit, and as a result will be in full control and have much greater freedom with their instrument. They will be able to pick and choose the rules of music theory that suit them at the time. Having at least a basic knowledge will help players break away from what has been done before. It will help them come up with new ideas, different melodies, new chords and progressions, be able to combine different scales, etc.
2. Music theory helps you better understand what you are playing
It’s always a good thing to be able to understand something that you play instinctively. This means it can be improved on and varied. Music theory cannot replace a good ear, but works alongside to complement it. To know the basics helps puts words to feelings and better understand your instrument and how to play it.
3. Music theory helps to communicate better with others
Having a knowledge of the basics is also very useful if you want to play with other musicians. You can communicate and exchange more easily. Music is a language and it’s important to know how to use it and to develop a richer vocabulary. It will be easier to integrate into a group, to understand what everyone else is playing and be able to play with them. What’s the key? What’s the chord sequence? What is and isn’t possible? As well as saving time, a knowledge of music theory basics will help you communicate better with your fellow musicians and allow you to adapt to them.
4. Music theory is a time-saver
Being familiar with the notes, how they work, their role, chords, names, etc.: even though the ear remains your best asset, music theory will help save you time as it helps you to understand and memorise what is happening with your instrument. You will gain time if a pianist says to you, for example: “What a lovely piece of music: what are the chords you’re playing? Does your instrument have such and such a note? Could you put a C in your Dm chord? It could mix things up a bit and allow us to add a seventh…”