Music theory studies how music works by looking at various styles of musical pieces and the historical periods in which they were written. It also studies the techniques that have been used by composers over the years. By looking at the elements of music, such as melody, form, structure, rhythm, harmony, and other components, it becomes easier to appreciate and understand music. Those who study music are called music theorists, and some of them also study psychology and human physiology because they are also involved in how each person hears and understands music. Some other elements of music are pulse, harmony, texture, expressive qualities, and structure. These fundamentals of music are used in Western and nonwestern cultures.
Music theory looks at and studies the structure of music. When a student takes a course in this subject, they learn basic musicianship, elementary theory, and the elements of music. Students must be able to read and write musical notes before taking a basic course on the college level. Most students also have experience with playing a musical instrument or in voice. In a course like this, students learn keyboard harmony, sight-singing, listening skills, and they study the composition of various pieces. Students eventually learn to describe, analyze and interpret a musical piece, and eventually they are expected to do this in listening and written exercises. They also learn to harmonize melody by choosing chords that sound attractive when blended together.
Those of all ages can learn simple concepts of music theory, and formal music education usually begins in elementary school. In some cases, it starts in preschool by teaching children how to keep the beat of a song by using their hand on a small drum. Children learn about pitch and whether the sound of a note is high or low. They also learn to read musical notes, and sight reading songs that are used for instrumental and voice lessons. Many parents and daycare centers expose babies to classical music so that children can be calmed by the sound while developing a very basic familiarity of the various sounds that music makes. By elementary school, students are learning to read music. They also listen to a variety of songs in music class with the goal that they will develop an understanding and lifelong love of it. In the upper grades of elementary school or high school, students learn to harmonize their instruments with others in bands or in choral vocal groups. They usually perform for parents and school staff to demonstrate what they have learned.
Someone who loves music may go into a career that involves many forms of music. The study of music theory in college is required before entering a professional musical career. Some of these careers are music teacher, composer or song writer, musician, or music therapist. Music therapy is used around the world, and it is recognized in eliminating depression and reducing anxiety. Music has the ability to affect parts of the human brain that control these feelings and conditions. It is also used to help stroke victims recover faster because it has been shown to help motivate patients to go on to their next session because it decreases negative feelings.
Music teachers give private lessons or work in music studios, and many are employed by schools since most states in the U.S. mandate that students take a minimum number of hours of music in elementary and high school. Teachers who want to instruct adults may go on to become professors, and their positions may allow for research and private work that may result in new knowledge or information about the elements and fundamentals of music theory. Their work not only prepares future music theorists to work with music in the future, but it may also bring unknown musical artists to the forefront, or discover lost pieces that were written by classical musicians.