Music theory, many would argue, is an essential part of playing any musical instrument. However, when once looks at many of the various piano tutorials out on the market and even online, they do not find a mere mention of the concept. The theory and study of music is one of the most essential elements to the growth of the art form. This article is in defense of theory lessons, rather than simple monotonous instruction of the piano or keyboard.
If you were to go to your local music instruction store and randomly pick out a set of piano lessons, you'd be shocked to see that music theory is a very little part of the subject. Granted, the lessons are about learning the piano, but there are still fundamental things one needs to learn to help their understanding of how piano (or any) music works.
The idea that one can simply learn how to play the keyboard and pay little attention to concepts of consonance, dissonance, and more advanced topics of harmonization is appalling. There can be no real mastery of any musical instrument if there is not attention paid to it's basic fundamental theory. Learning how music works (in time, space and on our emotions) is essential knowledge if one hopes to provide uniqueness to the art.
What you'll also find are lessons that focus solely on how to play piano by ear through a series of different tricks to skip over studying theory so one can apply principles many take years to learn. This could be considered a cop-out in one way. For instance, they skip over reading sheet music, when that is an essential skill for any musician.
Further, people who refuse to learn music theory will be a slave to their shortcomings as musicians. How can one begin to transpose songs and play in different keys if they do not know how this is done properly? Music theory instruction can do this. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to playing any instrument.
Another argument for including music theory lessons in any music instructional courses is that it can help with the ability to improvise. Although many modern genres of music do not contain elements of improvisation, there is something to be said about having the ability to do so. It can help in composition, live performance and many other areas of playing.
So it is clear that any musical instruction that does not strictly and thoroughly encourage the study of theory in music, is not complete. It's an essential part of being able to play music. Even on my piano blog, which does not really have any section for music theory, per say, I point people in the direction of websites that do. I truly think it's an essential part of playing the piano. And I hope that in the future, all piano tutorials will include sections on this important area.