I can do major scales with every key. I am now start minor scales. In what order should I learn all the concepts and theories? For example chords, chord progressions, lots of other stuff etc..

I would also like to use this as a list to see all the theoretical concepts.

Also, any other theory practicing tips are welcome.

Thank you.

  • 3
    I'd rather try and find pieces I enjoy hearing and that sound like I could learn something new from them and derive some partial order from that instead of trying to be so exhaustive. I fail to see the point of the latter approach; but then that's just me. Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 11:00

3 Answers 3


What theoretical concepts to learn? It depends on what you want to play and what your goals are. For example, if you wanted to become a jazz pianist, or be play an accompaniment part by ear, then you would want to learn chord construction, chord progressions, creating tension and resolving it, and so on. If you wanted to improve your sight reading, then you would, in addition to practicing your scales, learn to recognize intervals on the staff. So it would be hard to say exactly what concepts and theories you need to learn, or in what order.

As for a list of all theoretical concepts to learn, I'm afraid the list would be far to long, so I'll just list down some of the more common ones.

  • Triads
  • Chord Construction/Chord Formulae
  • Scales (major, natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor)
  • Modes
  • Cadences
  • Chord Progressions
  • Modulation
  • Creating Tension and Resolve in a Chord Progression
  • Intervals
  • Voice Leading

As for practicing music theory, the important thing is to be able to apply the theory concept in your playing. It's better to know a little theory and be able to use it, then to know lots of theory and not be able to use any of that knowledge. For example, it is better to know a few interesting chord progressions that work than a lot of chords but not be able to use any of them. This means you'll probably have to spend time trying things out on the piano, but it's worth it. Just one more thing: there might be some differences in jazz theory and classical theory, such as different terms being use. Just so you know!


The best way to learn theory is to study the concepts in their natural order.

  • Notes and pitches - obviously you already know these

  • Scales and modes. I understand you've already undertaken major and minor scales. If you have not already, study the modes and how they fit into the picture of scales. Be able to identify scales when hearing them. Be able to write scales. Identify scales in pieces you listen to.

  • Key. Understand how a key signature relates to a scale, and vice versa. Be able to write key signatures for major and minor key names.

  • Intervals. Understand how intervals are named and defined based off of scales. This is important! Identify intervals in music.

  • Chords. Understand how a chord is composed of intervals, and why they are named like they are. Understand how chords are related back to intervals and scales. Be able to write the names of the triads for every note in a particular key.

  • Diatonic Harmony. This is the most extensive subject, and is best studied in a theory course or book. Of course it is possible to learn without it. Understand why chords are arranged in time the way they are. Understand common types of chords progressions and what makes them work.

This is a very general roadmap. The best way to study theory is to take a course, or use some sort of self study resource. Hope this helps!


I suggest you first learn the chords and chord progressions to a large number of simple tunes (christmas carols, children's carols, songs such as When Johnny Comes Marching Home, etc.). By learning the chords to these songs, you will by default learn the keys and the scales, and you will also train your ear in a manner that sets the groundwork for more difficult music later on. It's a win-win situation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.