Learning music theory is an essential aspect of becoming a proficient musician. It helps you understand the structure, composition, and language of music.

But, when it comes to learning music theory, many aspiring musicians wonder if they should go to college or pursue self-study. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at whether going to college is necessary to learn music theory.

What Is Music Theory

Music theory is the study of the fundamental elements that make up music. It includes topics such as harmony, melody, rhythm, and notation. By understanding these elements, you can analyze and create music more effectively.

Is College Necessary

While it’s possible to learn music theory through self-study or private lessons, going to college has several advantages. Firstly, college programs provide a structured curriculum that covers all aspects of music theory comprehensively. This can be especially helpful for beginners who are not sure where to start.

Secondly, colleges offer opportunities for practical application of music theory concepts through ensembles and performance groups. This helps students apply what they’ve learned in real-world musical situations.

Finally, attending college provides access to experienced instructors who can provide personalized feedback on your progress and help you improve your skills.

The Pros and Cons of Self-Study

On the other hand, self-study has its benefits as well. It allows you to learn at your own pace and on your own schedule. Additionally, there are numerous online resources available that provide comprehensive lessons on various aspects of music theory.

However, self-study lacks structure and may result in knowledge gaps or confusion about certain concepts. Also, without feedback from an instructor or peers in a classroom setting, it may be challenging to gauge your progress accurately.


In conclusion, while it’s possible to learn music theory through self-study or private lessons, attending college has several advantages. College programs provide a structured curriculum, practical application opportunities, and access to experienced instructors. On the other hand, self-study allows for flexibility but may result in knowledge gaps.

Ultimately, the decision to attend college or pursue self-study depends on your personal learning style, schedule, and budget. Regardless of your approach, consistent practice and dedication are crucial to becoming proficient in music theory.