How Long to Learn Music?


in Learning Music

Recently I got some very difficult questions on learning music and it was hard to give a direct answers. Today I'll share a little of that with you. My impression is that the age of instant gratification is creating a frustration with the new generation of musicians that have yet to understand that music is a life long journey.

How Long to Learn to Arrange Songs

It took me many years of learning and playing music before I was able to start arranging songs. That was two fold, I was focused on playing others music and just didn't know enough to be able to begin composition and arrangement. However, I played around with ideas over the years and added what I could with the any new knowledge I gained.

I send much of my free time just improvising these days, because of limited time and other pursuits I do not perform, but focus on entertaining myself.

The video series on arranging the Christmas Song as posted here was based on about 4 months of work I did with one of my jazz mentors.  I thought it would be a good overview of the process we went through. Potentially this series would help those that were looking at ways to compose and arrange music.

The length of time to accomplish this type of task will depend on each individual's skill and knowledge as well as a focus.

Does It Take Endless Hours of Study to Learn Music Theory

My beginners to intermediate music theory course can be done on ones own pace as quick as a few months. It was designed to give the average person 1 year to complete and covers about 4 to 5 years of normal theory study.

It's not endless hours, but reading the materials and doing the work will take a some time. The initial concept was to be able to spend less than 30 minutes per day and still learn theory on an accelerated basis.

It takes a bit of time to work the exercises. if you were to give each of 24 lessons about 3 hours each average, some more, some less, you're likely to spend about a hundred hours.

Working the rhythm and practicing is going to add many times that. But then again learning and living music is a life journey.

What you don't get is the one on one mentoring you might need with an instructor to cover the area you want to work. Knowing the theory is one thing, actually putting it to use on arrangements takes guidance, work, and practice. That's what I'd consider an advanced course after you've learned the basic principles.

My course was developed as an alternative to the expensive extension style courses like College Schools of Music. And as a supplement to teachers that were not achieving the levels of music theory knowledge in their students they wish.

Practical Study

The practical side of studying music is in learning symbols and music structure and then working them out in practice. Rhythm is taught away from a sheet music, but then can be applied when you read it. It's about learning the principal so that you can figure out the notes you are reading.

One stumbling block of a straight theory class is the difficulty in adding materials which expand into lengthy examples of reading and playing songs. This is a minor hurdle to overcome and learning the theory makes it an easier process.

What About Other Courses?

I am a working professional in another career and don't have time to look at many other courses. I only know when I started there wasn't a really good course on the fundamentals of music theory for self study. All the books were telling me what it was, but none were making it pragmatic to learn.

I've been reviewing a few course materials and music books, but I know of nothing that will accomplish what many want to do in such a short time. I believe if you want to learn quickly you'll have to devote significant time everyday and find a mentor to work with you. A drive like that will get you a long way down the road of your desire.

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