Learning to read music and understand music theory doesn’t have to be tedious or boring

You don’t need years of abstract, theoretical lessons to understand music theory, and if you've ever wondered if good boys deserving fudge will really help you learn to read music, you're not alone.

In fact, you have a much better chance of making progress if you learn these skills and concepts through play.

> Start playing with the FREE Stickey Notes printable characters and email tips on how to use them.

You should enjoy the process of learning

Many people give up on learning music theory and reading because it feels either too difficult or boring. Even if they understand how these skills can benefit their goal of learning to play an instrument or compose their own music, they struggle to maintain motivation to learn these skills.

That doesn’t mean learning music theory and reading has to feel difficult or boring for you.

People who openly dislike music theory often end up enjoying it as soon as they do it in a way that’s centered around play.

That's why I developed Team Stickey, seven colorful characters who form Note Teams to play music in different keys and modes. *

A few common questions and answers

Why do you believe it’s important to learn to read music and understand music theory, and not just learn the practical skill of playing the piano?”

In the first few years of teaching piano, I taught a playing-based curriculum that postponed reading skills and focused on playing songs from the very first lessons.

I noticed that some students quickly learned to identify the keys on the piano by letter name. If I said, “this piece begins on an A,” they would know where to put their hands. Other students would randomly guess where the notes were, even after years of piano lessons.  

When songs became more advanced, the students who understood the concepts behind the music had an easier time learning to play the songs, with or without reading sheet music.  

How did you get into developing music theory and reading games?

I wanted all my students to experience the benefits of understanding how songs are put together; the chords for harmonies and the intervals for melodies; the theory and how to decode musical notation.

At first, I tried a flash-card approach (play the next higher “A”)… but this WAS boring and tedious. No one, myself included, wanted to spend time learning that way.

I tried creating slide-show animations, interactive online quizzes, you name it… but nothing stuck.

There must be a better way,” I thought.

So, I determined to develop a video game. What started as a single-level, single-player game for matching a note name to a key on the piano turned into a 3-level game with 1 and 2-player versions for each level, adding games for matching note names to notes on the staff and piano keys to notes on staff.

During the process of developing the Stickey Notes reading music mobile game, I began to research and investigate music theory concepts such as modes and solfa. I spent hours searching online, trying to synthesize various blog posts, articles and forum posts into a coherent view of music theory.

Surely, there had to be a more accessible, integrated way to get all this information and apply it to the piano. That motivated me to put together 2 interactive resources:
- the Scale and SticKey app, which synthesizes 5 music theory concepts into a playful, interactive interface and
- the Zig-Zag of Fifths, a simple alternative to the circle of fifths that makes knowing the order of sharps and flats, modal scales and diatonic chords easy and fun.

* Team StickeyTM, Note TeamTM, Stickey NotesTM, Scale and SticKeyTM, Zig-Zag of FifthsTM, and their associated artwork and images are trademarks of Attune Music and Math, LLC. All rights reserved.