I've been playing the Piano for about 3 years now and I've learnt classically. From this I know how to get a technique down and how to read a piece of sheet music. I've learnt to play a lot of songs this way. Despite this I can't say that I really understand how music works. What can I do to completely overhaul my approach to learning music?

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    How to learn for the best results? I, like most people, wish I knew. – Ye Dawg Dec 6 '17 at 19:52
  • Studies have shown that the brain processes and stores info efficiently if memorization and reading type studies are done within three hours of and prior to sleeping, manual exercises such as practicing a piece or scales etc. are best done thirty minutes before sleeping to most efficiently learn. Can't hurt to try. I don't think short naps count. – skinny peacock Jan 4 '18 at 14:54

You will need to learn music theory at some point in time.

Here is a reference to the ABRSM piano syllabus:

  1. The piano exams are graded from grade 1 to grade 8.
  2. For grade 1 to grade 5 exams, you can just take the exam directly.
  3. For grade 6 to grade 8 exams, you must first pass a written music theory test before you are allowed to enroll in the exam.

There is a philosophy in this: in the beginning, you are just learning to execute techniques from your teacher. As the score gets more and more complicated, you will need to learn why certain phrases or certain notes are played in a certain way. You need to understand what the composer was thinking to produce better music.

Music theory deals with that. It tells you how the music is structured, how harmony affects the mood of the piece, how one modulates from a major key to a minor key etc. With that knowledge, you can analyze a piece, e.g. when you see a G# in a piece that started in C major, you will know that the composer put that note in because he wanted to get to A minor, which transitions the piece from a happy mood to a sad mood.

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    I don't remember music theory saying anything about happy moods or sad moods. – ex nihilo Dec 5 '17 at 13:47
  • Maybe "happy" and "sad" aren't the most common terms, but the notions of consonance/dissonance and bright/dark are common in modern theory. – The Chaz 2.0 Dec 5 '17 at 14:26
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    @TheChaz2.0 - consonance and dissonance have little to do with major and minor. – Tim Dec 5 '17 at 16:49
  • I find that while consonance and dissonance are not limited to major and minor, the sad sound of minor is a result of the dissonance caused by flattening the third, the happy sound of the major is a result of the consonance of the major third. That is stated in every article or book I've ever read on music theory. – skinny peacock Jan 4 '18 at 15:05

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