Pop Music Theory


2: Teaching Yourself

Detailed Contents

Lesson 2: Teaching Yourself

(There's no actual "music theory" in this lesson, just general advice; so if you want "just the facts", you can skip ahead to Lesson 3: Pitch & Keyboard.)

Since you're here at Pop Music Theory, it's likely that you're teaching yourself about music (or at least music theory); and you might be a beginner, and/or have never had music lessons. So, this lesson has some general advice about teaching yourself.

To use the music theory you learn here, you have to practice it, just like you must practice to learn to play an instrument. When you have a teacher, they will probably (1) give you advice (or rules!) on when and how much to practice, and (2) tell you what to practice (with assignments/"homework"). When you're teaching yourself, you have to figure these things out yourself.

When to practice: There's only one "law": You only get better when you practice. Within that law, it's totally up to you, the working style you prefer, and the other things (outside music) that fill up your life. Maybe making a practicing schedule of an hour a day (or more, or less, often) works for you; maybe you like to be more flexible. An aspiring professional musician will probably make practicing their "full time job", for years and years; but you can enjoy music as a hobby even if you only practice an hour or two a week. But, the flip side of the "law" above is: If you don't practice, you get worse (because you forget what you've already learned).

What to practice: This is more difficult than when to practice, because every time you sit down to practice, you have to decide "what to do". In these lessons, I suggest practice activities, but it's up to you to decide when and for how long to do each one. There are many ways you can do this, but if you're looking for a plan, here's one suggestion:
  • Each time you sit down to practice this Pop Music Theory course, you have to decide how to divide your time between practicing old stuff and learning new stuff.
  • Start a "Things to Practice" list. This list will constantly change as you add new activities to it, and remove old activities from it.
  • As you read these lessons, some of them suggest practice activities; add the activities which seem useful to your Things to Practice list. If you can think of your own practice activities, add them too.
  • Each time you sit down to practice, start by practicing things on your Things to Practice list. When you decide you're good enough at something on this list, you can cross it off the list.

Teaching yourself is a challenge; I hope this topic helps. Now you can go on to the first "actual theory" lesson, Lesson 3: Pitch & Keyboard.

Requests, questions, suggestions, problems? Tell me on Facebook or email info@drawmusic.com!


1: Introduction
2: Teaching Yourself
3: Pitch & Keyboard
4: Pitch Names
5: Letters Game
6: Sharps & Flats
7: Half-Steps
8: Whole-Steps
9: Steps Game
10: Scales
11: Major Scale 1-2-3
12: Major 1-2-3 Games
13: Major Scale 1-5
14: Major 1-5 Games
15: Chords: Major Triads
16: Major Triad Games
17: Minor Triads
18: Minor Triad Games
19: Major Scale 1-8
20: Major Scale Games
21: Scales Above 8
22: What Next
23: Keys
24: Roman Numeral Chords
25: Diatonic Triads
26: Using Diatonics
27: Treble Staff
28: Treble Staff Game
29: Pitch & Frequency

© 2018 Conrad Albrecht. All rights reserved.