4 Tips on How to teach music theory … and make it fun!

By Jade Bultitude
Last Update:

We have all been there. We know our student really needs to have a deeper understanding of music theory in order to progress in their playing but they simply refuse to do it. Music theory really does have a bad reputation, but it doesn’t need to be a boring aspect that we have to do each lesson just to get through it! There are definitely fun ways to include music theory into your teaching and ensure that your students still progress, let’s look at how to teach music theory!

So, how can we inject some fun into the way we teach music theory? 

1. Don’t introduce it as music theory!

do not, music theory

Music theory’s reputation often proceeds it and sometimes the mere mention of ‘music theory’ freaks our students out… so don’t tell them! There really is no need to have music theory as a separate part of your lesson. You do not need to say ‘and now we will learn music theory!’ It should always be integrated into what you are doing anyway! There is always an opportunity to expand your student’s music theory knowledge, seemingly without them knowing. 

2. Relate music theory directly to music they enjoy

enjoy music, enjoy music theory

If you relate music theory to pieces that your student is currently learning it becomes a much more relevant concept rather than an abstract thing! Remember that abstract concepts have no relevance and can make them annoying to learn! Simply by asking questions as you go through learning the music, such as ‘how many beats is this note?’, ‘what is the technical name of this note?’, ‘What does allegro mean?’ will provide all the opportunity you need to expand your students music theory knowledge. Everything your student does and plays to you will include an element of theory which can be brought up!

3. Play games and use flash card

music theory games, play games, music theory

Many students will really enjoy playing music theory games. Flash cards are a great way to introduce this as they are very easy to slip into your teaching bag and can be used in many different ways! There are also many fabulous online resources to expand your students music theory knowledge! Check our my ultimate list of online music theory games to engage your students!

4. Compose!

compose, guitar, composing music, music theory

Composing is a great way to inject music theory into your lesson! Many students really enjoy creating their own pieces and I have often seen students begin lessons because they were just randomly making up tunes every time they walked past the instrument! By using music theory as a way to give students the tools to create their own music you will see a much higher interest in learning it! You could even use your flash cards from the previous point to assist with this. Some students can be a little hesitant when first faced with coming up with a composition. However, giving them some props to help along the way will make a huge difference! 

How do you inspire your students to learn music theory? Let me know!

Photo of author
Jade is a flute player and music educator with a passion for educating the next generation of musicians. She is a Masters Graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Jade has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.