The Illusion of Music Theory

Musician or Magician?


You're going to get it this time. The gentleman in front of you has a smirk on his face as he slowly slides the upside down cups in a circular motion, one of them containing the red ball. Moving from one position to the next, you never let your eyes leave the sure thing. Before he can even get a word out, you point to the middle cup. Victory is yours!

I think we all know what happens next.

If you are like me, you probably spend hours wondering how you could have missed it. In the back of your mind, you know that it wasn't magic, but it sure felt like it was. In fact, you've seen this trick performed many times before but you can never seem to put your finger on how it works. The day you learn how to perform the illusion yourself, you wonder how you could have been fooled by something so simple.

If you're asking yourself "What does this have to do with learning music?" consider all the times you listened to a song or went to a performance and the musicians seemed to pull all the right notes out of thin air. Even the notes you knew should have sounded wrong didn't. You practice all the scales and learn all the chords, yet your music never sounds half as good. Like the above story, you've probably spent hours trying to see past the illusion. It's like someone has pulled a musical trick on you when all you want is to have a better understanding of how music works so you can improve your own playing.

Magicians work hard at keeping their illusions a secret for obvious reasons. But why is it that when learning music, it seems like everyone tries to be a magician with secrets tucked safely up their sleeves? We are musicians, not magicians! And, music theory, which is supposed to be helpful, only seems to add to the illusion of music instead of bringing out your inner artist. Basically, it becomes more of a hindrance than a help.

Consider the following questions:

  • Does writing music seem like something only others who appear more qualified do?
  • Have you been playing for years but still don't understand how chords and scales work?
  • Would you like to have a music education to go along with your already developed playing, but without the excessively high cost?
  • Have you taken private lessons or attended local music classes with the hopes of getting a better understanding of theory only to leave more confused?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, maybe it's time to rethink how you approach music.

Maybe it's time to add Emotional Pitch® to your bag of tricks!


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