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really hit the wall with theory learning.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by fr0me0, May 1, 2006.

  1. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    Ok I've been working my way through an elementary rudiments theory book and well I've really hit a wall. I havn't picked it up in 2 weeks. Its slow at work today I try to pick it up and I can't hardly look at the thing. I'd rather watch paint dry.

    any suggestions on how to find some motivation, what kinda things do you teachers say to your students when they get a little sick of theory learning? Is there a way to make theory more fun?

    I know its really important. I saw really good improvements too after the chapters on major and minor scale. I notice an improvement in sight reading. Bui still I find myself picking it up and wanting to do anything but the exercises in it.

    any suggestions would be great.

  2. vyse933


    Mar 31, 2006
    Grand Haven, MI
    read it...absorb it..make your own exercises.
  3. Bassist4Life


    Dec 17, 2004
    Buffalo, NY
    Find a specific reason to use it.

    1. You're transcribing a tune and you're not sure how to notate the rhythm.

    2. You're composing a tune; however, you're not sure what key signature or time signature you're supposed to use.

    3. You want to play a simple chord progression on the piano and you're not sure how to "spell" the chords.

    There are a lot of reason to learn it. Find one that motivates you.

    Good luck,
  4. Spend a little time at this site:


    ...check out the "Lessons" drop-down menu..

    ....select an area of relevance (eg. Key Signatures, Simple & Compund Meter, Introduction to chords, Diatoinic 7th Chords, etc.)...

    ...and treat yourself to a brief "Flash-Player" lesson on the subject :hyper: !

    I find it's set out really well (Presentation = CLARITY), and some or all of the subject matter will overlap with that of the Theory book you're studying (or trying to... :meh: )

    ..I've often found that the same information presented a different way can lead to that "epiphany", where the stuff you've been trying to understand for so long all starts falling into place.....*COSMIC*, dude! :D

    ...and once things start falling into place, the feeling is ADDICTIVE:::: you get some MOMENTUM going! you get HUNGRY for that feeling!

    There'll be NO STOPPING YOU!! :bassist:

    ...and keep in mind that the times you struggle/ ideas you struggle with ultimately lead to much more "real" progress - and GROWTH - than the stuff that comes more easily to you :)

  5. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand

    There's got to be a purpose.
  6. i find that teaching theory works well when analysing tunes. Also just get the concept of an interval down clear and solid.

    If you can get a concept on the major scale and intervals you are there.

    I say to my students if you can count to 8 you can get music theory. Its interesting however how some take it on board and some don't.

    The problem for beginners is that the same thing can be called by various names. A semitone can be a minor second or one fret, or even an adjacent tone.
    you get them to play the major scale and do it by numbers and then you go play a b2 and they go what.
    Then you have to introduce sharps and flats into the language.

    It takes some perserverence, thats all.
  7. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Also depends on the book and how it applies to the style you are playing. What book are you using? Might help to get face to face with a human.

    When I was taking theory in high school (back in the day) I was primarily interested in playing prog rock, fusion, and jazz. I made a pretty serious divide in my head between classical vs jazz theory.

    When I was in college I had a prof (not the thoery prof either) really put things in perspective for me and show me that it was not a different language, just a different dialect.

    With my own students now I try really hard for them to see, regardless of the style, the same principles of western theory apply. Are there exceptions? Yup. But my students are amazed at how quickly I can pick up tunes off a recording. Part of it is ears, but part of it is knowing that, within western theory, there are a finite number of possibilities what will happen next.
  8. just take it slow, dont be in a hurry, one page at a time. I hit those kind of walls before and i found out why, it's usually i was itching to learn everything in one day.

  9. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    thanks for the replies guys.

    I think i'm going to go through some of the stuff at my piano and play along. I think the practicality of hearing it will really help. I'd play along with my bass but It would get boring and I'd start noodling and put the book down.

    Also I'm going to try to apply it to some songs

    I certainly know the value of it but just stitting there with the book can get pretty dry lol.
  10. Zachass

    Zachass Peavey Partizan

    I got really motivated to learn theory when I started writing my own songs. It provided an impetus to help me learn progressions, chord theory, and other stuff to make my music sound better.
  11. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    +1 bingo, my friend!

    Theory becomes way more interesting as you see how it's applied. It's one thing to read about it and look at notes on a page, it's a whole new realm when you hear the tones and how they lead and resolve.

    Don't sweat it too much. As has been said in other threads, theory is what one uses to explain what has already happened. It's not so much a performance tool. Although the more I use it the more fluent the ideas become - the power of woodshedding!

    Have fun with it! No worries!
  12. paulraphael


    Apr 13, 2006
    If you heard me play, you'd stop reading what I write.
    here's a question: how are your ears?

    for me, learning theory was great for a while, but then it got tedious, and pretty soon i hit a wall ... it was hard to cram more into my head, and what i was leaning wasn't helping.

    i finally realized my brain had gotten too far ahead of my ears. i was learning about all these jazz harmonies that my ear training wasn't sophisticated enough to let me hear. if you can't hear the difference between an 11th chord and a 13th chord, or between a weird inversion of chord 1 and a different weird inversion of chord 2, it becomes pretty pointless to keep cramming in the information. You're just learning an odd kind of abstract math at that point ... not music.

    if this is the kind of wall you hit, then try taking a break from the books and working on yours ears. for me this is harder work that just learning theory, but it's important in so many ways. when your ears do catch up, then you can start soaking up more theoretical stuff.
  13. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    I think that is exactly the wall I've hit I need to work on my ear and "hear the theory" so to speak
  14. sflajimmy


    Nov 6, 2005
    South Florida
    Doing the math is the easiest part but applying it and walking it through chord progressions is a whole nother storey. If you get used to using the same modes and arpeggio's over and over it all gets boring and predictable. This is where the ear training comes in...to hear and try different things:confused:
  15. LeftyJack


    Feb 23, 2006
    San Carlos, CA
    I experienced the same problem after a while of studying theory, lessons, etc. I found that just by spending some time with a friend who actually plays in a band (electric and upright bass) and just talked to him about the why's and wherefore's of what I was learning as it applied to real life playing. He shed a lot of light on everything. And after a few personalized lessons (tips) that he gave me, it renewed my enthusiasm for my practice time. I had one of my best practice sessions two days after talking to him.:bassist:

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