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Hi, I'm a beginner who is playing stuff like clementi sonatinas or schumann op 68. Im studying a lot of music theory but i cant still recognize every chord in the sheet ( maybe some cadences) so, when you were around my level of playing, could you recognize chords in music? Should i recognize them? Btw im studying a lot of 4 part writing so for me is much easier analyze music like bach chorales or some modern hymns but when i try to analyze some different kind of music I stuck. Thanks and sorry for bad english
I think a lot of adults try to learn theory too theoretically so to speak and separated from actual practice. What I mean is that you go through every bar and try to name all the chords by looking at each note, etc. That is not a good way to analyze pieces and it's a waste of time until you reach a certain level.
Instead of doing that you should connect the theory to what you actually hear. Where are the main sections? Where are phrases and cadences? Do the themes repeat with some variations? At the beginning you will probably be able to hear those things without necessarily being able to say precicely what chords are used. Over time you will develop that. One thing that helps is to practice your chords in all keys then when you see a chord and play it you can more easily identify it. But all of that takes time. It takes time to develop your ear to hear the chord changes. It takes time to practice the chords and be able to instantly recognize them. It takes time to internalize all of the theory and connect it to real music.
In short, it may seem counter-intuitive, but if you wish to learn theory should spend most of your time at the keyboard rather than with textbooks.
Here's a video of Seth Monahan where he talks about this. Even if you don't understand all theory the concepts it's still good to watch. The main idea is as I wrote, try to be more practical. Don't do musical analysis like a robot going algorithmically through all the notes.
I dont think there is any direct connection between your piano level and your theory level. Though there is a recommended progression path, for example ABRSM or RCM provide a detailled course of what you should know for each grade. But if you do more theory you will progress faster. Given that theory is essentially knowledge based vs practice oriented, each can go at a different pace. To recognize chords and their role easily, you need to have a decent understanding of theory. Clementi is about grade 3 RCM or ABRSM 2. At that level it is not expected that you can analyze a piece of music.
I analyze all my pieces before I start them, reading the score at the piano. I see what key it's in, check for any key changes, then look for triads and inversions, note the fingering and the notes, etc. Then I look for other things like 7th chords, dim, aug, etc. I do a lot of writing on the score before I even begin playing. That's how I progressed in theory rather than just doing my workbooks. If theory actually means something physical and musical, not just notes in a workbook, you get a whole lot more out of it.
Lisa Chief Cook & Pot Scrubber @ Cunningham Piano Club 🎹 Cunningham Studio Grand & Yamaha CLP645
"I tell my piano the things I used to tell you." - Frederic Chopin
In my school days I played violin in a group class. The teacher made the students learn theory separately. We learned to read music as we play but wouldn't sit down and analyze a piece.
The first things we come across is the Key & Time Signature. Based on the 2 you have some idea the notes that would be used and the beat.
Going to the next level people like myself tend to pick things up by ear as I'm playing. The first thing I'd pick up is whether a section of music or chords sounds happy or sad. This would tell me if it's major or minor without naming the notes or the chords.
The piece I'm working on has 3 sections. The first & last sections are in G major and begin with the same notes. The middle section is in E minor. The piece begins with a chord arpeggio BDG which is G chord - 2nd inversion. There are other chords in the piece like EGBE which is Em with an octave note added & G#BE which is E chord - 2nd inversion. A lot of places the composer have the same top (melody) note but with different notes under to give different sounding chords. I can be playing the melody line with two Es one after the other. The first E is in the stack GBE and the next E in the stack G#BE. The same top note E but you hear a different mood (sad & happy).
I spent a few weeks practicing the piece and picked up how it was composed by ear. I didn't have to read through the score like a book and try to understand what is happening in different parts of the music. Just playing it many times I know the sections that are similar repeating the same patterns with higher or lower notes.
Some of the problem could be: a) the notation isn't complete or has been altered to suit the level of the book, b) pieces don't always follow theory perfectly, or c) there could be things like borrowed chords that might not "make sense" at an elementary level. I took some adult theory courses and still have a hard time analyzing pieces that don't seem like they should be so complex. So, I just try to make sense of the key, changes, and whatever else I can, and accept that there will be some stuff I don't understand but will hopefully learn later.
I think that for some people, theory can get in the way, be too challenging, be a distraction, or whatever. But it suits my learning style and I improve in everything so much faster when my focus is on theory (which includes playing!) In contrast to the above post, I find that learning things like chord shapes through theory opens or loosens up my hands and helps with positional/location awareness.
I think if you find jazz players they have quite good understanding of chords and composition. It's probably the easiest way to learn. You could learn simple chord progression for example. I remember learning 12 bar blues chord pattern in 5 minutes for example. I don't think music theory exams teach this practical theory. I did grade 5 theory and I think can tell the cadence but not much else. I do think it's very hard to analyse music as composers are normally quite advanced and each time period is different. You probably need to have lessons in this separately to go into depth. My understanding of music is much lower than my playing so maybe improvisation and composition will help you develop this ability to analyse other music. You can always listen to other people go through music scores and analyse them as there are good YouTube's of this.
I think we all need to allow for the fact that different people relate to theory very differently. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, so I don't think it makes sense to declare what everyone should or shouldn't do.
As someone who's always enjoyed coding and higher mathematics, I found theory came very easily to me once I sat down to study it (I used college level theory & harmony textbooks). The same for reading music, as it's just another game of interpreting/manipulating abstract symbols that represent something very different (just like coding).
So while I found it very difficult to remember pieces without sheet music at the beginning, once I began analyzing my simple beginner pieces (a great place to start because they're so simple), I not only remembered them at the piano, but was able to practice them on an imaginary piano in my mind (on transit, or when I had insomnia, for example).
But I don't think this would be useful/pleasant/doable for everyone. I don't think it's helpful to make universal statements, as our minds all work so differently.
Please step aside. You're standing in your own way.