Please forgive me if it is a stupid question.

I love music and used to play some violin when I was a child. But I did not have any formal education in music theory. During the years I have made several attempts at self-learning it, but without success. I do get some idea of things like rhythms, notes, intervals and scales. But when it comes to chords or harmony, I feel like at a loss somehow. I suspect one of the reasons why I have a hard time learning all these may be that I do not have access to any keyboard instrument and cannot feel the music by just playing it (well, even if I had a keyboard instrument, I would not be able to play it at any fluency).

The other day I came across the software called "MuseScore", and got a little excited after playing around with it. I think this software might be a possible way of overcoming the problem of my being not able to play a keyboard instrument. But I do not know if this idea is correct and would like to hear your advice.

In particular, is it possible to master music theory by just carrying out the necessary exercises on the software, without being able to play a piano? If yes, then is there already any resource out there that combines music theory teaching with the software? Any help is appreciated, and sorry again for such a long post.

4 Answers 4


MuseScore certainly lets you enter notes and chords then hear what they sound like. I'd warn you, however, that studying music theory divorced from practical experience of PLAYING the sort of music being studied is going to lead you into a web of miscomprehensions and dead ends. Take lessons on playing an instrument. PLAY music. Let the theory follow.

  • 1
    Yes learning only theory is not good.
    – Neil Meyer
    Apr 24, 2016 at 13:23
  • 1
    I agree with this advice but would just clarify that in order to study and analyse pieces or endeavour in composition it's not necessary to be a virtuoso of an instrument or to be able to play everything that you try to analyse or compose. But it's true that relying soley on the sw to have an auditory experience of every chord, sequence or melody, that you need, though theoretically possible, will be extremely cumbersome and slow. Apr 24, 2016 at 14:55
  • Thanks for your informative answer. In fact I find every answer here helpful, and I am quite astonished that this question has had hundreds of views in just one day. Hoping for more people from different backgrounds and perspectives to join the discussion.
    – user28148
    Apr 25, 2016 at 4:30

I'm a student at a fine arts school majoring in music, and from personal experience, as the first person said, learning to play should be the primary goal. Learning the actual music theory will be tenfold harder without the foundation of actually playing. This being said, I suggest you go buy a cheap little keyboard and a method book to go with it (Hal Leonard or Bastien is a good start) or maybe even get lessons. Piano is perhaps the best instrument to learn to master music theory, the pianists at my school are far better at music theory then the rest of the musicians. Hope this helps!


I would say that MuseScore can be a great tool to exercise some of the learning you do. I'm not aware of any tutorials that explicitly use MuseScore to teach theory.

However, with MuseScore, you can construct chords AND there is a built-in, visual keyboard that can be used to input notes.

You might try going to MusicTheory.net to start learning theory. It has tutorials and offers some apps to help with learning.

Good luck.


I have had a similar idea and actually by looking into it, that's how I found your post...

It seems like you CAN learn aspects of music theory. For example, there is a way to label the notes in Musescore (a setting under staff properties), which can help you learn which notes go where on the staff.

Time signatures and note values can probably also be learned fairly easily by just dicking around with the software. Personally, my main instrument is guitar, and I've mostly picked it up through reading guitar tablature. This form of notating almost always omits the rhythmic element of the music. By seeing quarter notes, sixteenth notes, half and whole notes relative to each other in a score, I feel like I'm able to develop a better sense of how the written music unfolds over time just by looking at it.

So yeah, the rudiments are probably demonstrated fairly well with this program. But you probably won't be able to learn something like the circle of fourths or the circle of fifths with this.

It's easy to imagine a few very obvious exercises to do so as to improve in these areas:

  • compose your own music using the software.
  • notate familiar melodies
  • add the chords to those melodies to improve your sense of harmony

Hope this is kinda helpful!

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