David Hicken ~ Pianist & Composer

Advice For Pianists

Your ultimate goal as a pianist should be to have the ability to read a piece of music that you have never seen before, and give a reasonably good performance.  Although your goals as a pianist might be different, such as learning something by ear, or simply improvising, there is no doubt that having the ability to sight-read a piece of music would benefit you.

The more you know about the signs and symbols in a piece of music, the more successful you will be in achieving this goal, and this is where music theory comes in.

Not only should you be able to recognize and understand every symbol that is in a piece of music, but you should be able to clearly explain to someone else what it is and why it is there.  Only then can you truly understand music notation.

I will admit that music theory can be boring, but often, it depends upon how it is presented.  Also, if it is studied for short periods of time over the course of days, weeks and months, you'll soon get the hang of it with the least possible pain and suffering.

You need to know how to write out scales and key signatures, as well as rhythms, dynamic signs and articulation markings.  You must understand all intervals and how notes relate to one another so that you can then understand chords and their relationship to one another.  You should know about cadences and different types of accompaniment styles, as well as irregular time signatures etc.  I could go on and on, but you get the point.

When you recognize and understand these elements, then every new piece will be easier to learn and you'll end up playing them better.

Music theory is not quite as vast a subject as you may imagine, and it's easier than learning a foreign language.  Once you have learned all of the basic notation practices, you will go on to learn about the various rules that composers use, and then finally, you will learn how to break those rules.

Less serious students of music tend to only do the bare minimum required, and think they can get away without music theory.  Let's face it, they just want to play their instrument right?  However, what they really need is a teacher who is bold enough to explain to them clearly why they must learn these things that they would otherwise rather not do.

Too many teachers are afraid of losing students if they make the work too challenging or too boring, but little do they realize that in catering to the desires of the students (rather than teaching them what really needs to be taught), the students will naturally lose interest and often quit anyway.

Believe me that you need music theory.  Take it upon yourself to study and learn as much about it as you possibly can.  There is a wealth of books about the subject, but I suggest that you look at ones that were written several decades ago, or earlier.  The new philosophy of making everything easier, simpler, fun, engaging just doesn't apply to the art of music.  You must put in the effort, and new books on the subject are watered down and ineffective.

Once you have mastered your music theory, you will never look back  and regret the time you spent on it.  Quite the contrary, you will probably end up preaching to others what I am telling you here.

Happy studying!

David Hicken

All of the concepts that I write about here are detailed in my eBook "Secrets To Better Piano Playing" .  Click the image below to find out more.