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One of my favorite classes in college was music theory.  Now, that may not sound too exciting to many of you.  You need to understand that as long as I can remember, I wanted to play the piano. We had an old-fashioned upright when I was about five, and I used to love to plunk the keys, listening for the different pitches. Eventually I figured out which keys to play together to make a pretty sound.

I longed to have lessons, but there wasn’t money for that. So I plunked and dreamed. Eventually, I got hold of some beginner piano books and taught myself to play, to read the notes. My technique was terrible, and most piano teachers would probably tell me it still is.  But I could play.  It wasn’t long before I was playing for church, and I used to spend hours, when I was in high school, practicing on the piano in the church that my dad pastored in southern Minnesota.  Some people think I play by ear, but it’s more a matter of playing by memory.

And then, in college, I took my first music theory course and a whole new world opened up for me!  I finally began to understand the why and the how. I learned about the Circle of Keys, which helped me transpose music down to a pitch that I could sing without sounding like a wounded violin. I have a low alto voice, and even the books that were written for low voice were too high for me.

Image result for circle of keys

Musicians will understand this and think it’s just beautiful.  If you’re not excited about it, just relax.  There will NOT be a quiz in the morning 🙂

Music theory expanded the way I played the piano, helping me transition from one key to another easily.  I understood chords and how everything all works together.  For me, it was like unlocking a secret code.  I had finally found explanations for what I thought sounded right.  I also learned that there are no limits to what a musician can do with music, depending on the level of natural talent and good training.

Music is always running in my head.  Always. My students and my own kids used to do an eye roll when someone said something and I would immediately respond with a snatch of a song.  I didn’t care.  I still do it, and I’m sure it still bugs them.  Too bad 🙂

I’ve been listening to a lot of glorious Christmas music.  Here’s a song that has become my favorite over the last 20 years or so.




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