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Do you really need college to learn to play music?

Aug 17, 2007
Music courses are a great way to learn about virtually any area of music; history, theory, and musical instrument instruction -- you name it and somewhere music courses specialize in it. Though generally found through colleges, universities or high school programs, music courses are also offered via one-on-one instruction with a private teacher or community-based workshops. Some churches even offer music courses as a complement to their choirs; the music courses may be offered to the general public, but they're often geared toward the choir members and congregation.

In the last few years, however, a new dimension to learning music has appeared in the form of the internet - the world wide web. Now instead of being limited to classroom courses, students are free to create their own schedules and learn at their own pace. A quick search on Google or Yahoo will turn up online courses in:

-Chord Piano

-Classical Piano For Beginners

-Improvising on the Piano & Guitar

-Rock Guitar

-Praise & Worship Guitar

-Killer Drum Instuctions

-Black Gospel Piano

-Jazz Piano

and many many more...

Music courses offered by colleges are generally far more in-depth than other music courses and are usually only available to degree-seeking students (though some colleges offer music courses as part of their continuing education programs). Lower level college music courses often focus on an amalgamation of music theory and history, teaching individual theory concepts based on the historical period to which they are particular. As the music courses grow in skill level so too does the number of specialized topics. Advanced music courses are available for nearly every historical music period and are sometimes based on one particular movement. Advanced music courses for theory grow increasingly more difficult and slowly teach every detail found in modern music theory; it's during the theory music courses that students intending to major in music have their skills challenged the most -- some even refer to these music courses as a weeding out period.

Instrument-based music courses are equally as tough at the college level, though they usually assume a working knowledge of the instrument before the class begins. Those wishing to learn an instrument, therefore, are better off with private music courses or music courses offered by a community orchestra or social group. These music courses will focus on the basic details of learning an instrument, starting from the very beginning. Fingering, theory and music reading will be covered, in addition to the occasional bit of history. Students of these music courses may then wish to move on to college-level music courses after completing a few years of private instruction.

But for those more interested in "recreational music" - in other words, music that is played for personal enjoyment or to entertain family and friends, college music classes are not at all necessary. The internet abounds with wonderful courses that will help you do everything from play at your church to accompany your child on their flute or trombone, or even play in a jazz or rock or fusion or country group.
About the Author
Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music books and music educational materials for adults. He is the editor of the review site http://www.music-guitar-piano-portal.com/ He is also the author of the popular free 101-week online e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions" at http://www.playpiano.com/ with over 60,100 current subscribers.
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