Music should be a personal expression and not an endless series of exercises. The technical, aural, theoretical and creative facets of music must be explored to discover the possibilities of expression through discipline. There is no freedom without discipline and no useful long term discipline without the freedom of creativity.
Chuck Anderson, from Music: Pursuing the Horizon
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Here are a few of the elements that would be typically covered in a well rounded musical education.
Technique is the physical control and coordination needed to play an instrument or sing. It is involves position, efficiency of motion and effort, as well as exercises to develop specific physical skills.
Theory is the body of principles behind music. It includes scales and chord building, intervals, progressions, resolution, harmony, motion, power, color, chord substitution, keys and time signatures, rhythm, melody, etc.
Ear Training is the development of the active and passive capacity to relate to music aurally. It includes the ability to regains melodic and harmonic intervals, chords, chord progression, rhythm, melody and harmony.
Reading is the ability to reproduce music from written notation. It includes five phases; note recognition / alternate note locations, rhythm recognition, fingering considerations, communication terminology and interpretation.
Repertoire includes the songs within the performance ability of the student. These songs maybe memorized or read. They may be literal reproductions or creative interpretations.
Improvisation is the ability to spontaneous to create melody over a predetermined chord progression. It involves scales, alternate fingerings, arpeggios, intervalic development, sequences, embellishments, superimposition, rhythm, motifs, development techniques and idiomatic considerations.
Musical Idioms is the study of music musical style it involves well developed categories as; Rock, Blues, Country, Jazz, Bluegrass, Classical, Folk, Urban and Fusion. It also includes subdivisions of specializations.
Songwriting is the creation of original music based on a single melodic line with a chord progression. Lyrics may or may not be included.
Arranging involves the choice of instruments, tempo, rhythmic feel, form, intro, ending, interludes, solos, harmonies, and instrumental accompaniment of a song.
Composition is the creation of original music based on multiple simultaneous and compatible melodies. It historically involves the classical forms but frequently includes more sophisticated levels of contemporary music.
Orchestration involves the choice of instruments for a composition. This choice is based on the ranges and colors of the instruments which best represent the mood and creative intent of the composer.
Interpretation involves the ability to perform a song or composition in a unique and personal way. These skills involve a interrelated set of disciplines which include, theory, ear training, technique, dynamics, embellishments, phrasing, and rhythmic flexibility.
Here is what Chuck Anderson says about formal study:
The Value of Formal Music Study
Should you study music with a teacher or should you "wing" it on your own? This question always comes up in this type of discussion about music.
An objective assessment of the two alternative approaches leads me invariably towards the formal route. Why? Because without guidance, there is a tendency to go in circles, What do you practice, when do you move to the next topic? When are you doing something wrong? How do you practice what doesn't exist to you?
Many complain about time as a factor leading to the decision not to study. I would suggest that exactly the opposite is true. Those with less time need the efficiency of study. Without it, there's a tendency to "practice" what you're already good at. Study ensures that you will be working on your weaknesses. The results of self teaching are obvious. A player may get good at one thing but have blatant weaknesses in another.
If you use famous players in the past as your justification for not studying, you'd be wrong! Wes Montgomery was self taught - there's your justification. But is it? Wes was self taught because there were no teachers at that time. I don't mean no qualified teachers. I mean no teachers. Wes told me "Make sure you study. Don't do what I did."
Chuck Anderson - www.ChuckAndersonGuitar.com