"When most teachers talk about music theory, which element are they usually talking about?"
I thought for a few seconds, "Well, 'notes,' I guess."
"Good. What else?"
I tried but I couldn't think of anything else.
"Notes," I repeated.
"That's right," he laughed. "Notes, pitches, and that's it!" All the fuss about learning music theory, and now we see that most teachers only teach you how to use one tenth of the elements in music. Their music theory only teaches you to use notes, and it's only a theory! That's it! Nothing else! It doesn't teach you about dynamics, feel, tone, or anything else on the list, only notes. It should be called note theory, not music theory, because it doesn't teach you Music."
"You can't speak Music with notes alone, but you can speak Music without notes at all! I can program a computer to play notes, and it won't sound like Music! You need these other elements to make it complete! Without them, notes are lifeless!! Music theory is shallow! Incomplete! It does not deserve all the attention it gets! But at the same time, notes are important!"
"Most musicians think that Music is made up of notes. They forget that notes are just a part of Music, and a small part at that. If you stopped playing them, Music would still exist. Think about that! The reason many musicians get frustrated when they start to play, especially when they start to solo, is that they rely mostly on notes to express themselves. There are only twelve notes. Imagine trying to speak a whole language using only twelve words."
"Many musicians are afraid of those two notes. If they hit the 'wrong' one, they get scared and quickly leave that notes in search of the 'right' one. That's what you were doing when you trying to find the key. If you make friends with whichever note you happened to land on, it will give you directions to where you are trying to go."
"There are how many notes in Western Music?"
"Twelve," I answered.
"How many notes are there in most of the key signatures we play in?"
"Seven," I replied.
"Correct. In any key, there are seven so-called 'right' notes which leave only five so-called 'wrong' notes. What this means is even if we don't know what key we are in and guess which note to play, we will be 'right' more than half the time!"
"You are never more than half-step away from a 'right' note. Never! So, what are you so afraid of? You can't be lost. If you land on a 'wrong' note, just step off of it in either direction, and you are 'right' again. 'I once was lost, but now am found.' The real beauty is this: If you use your ears to listen to that accidental note, you may find that it actually sounds better than the 'right' note you intended to play."
LESSON: If You Stopped Playing Notes, Music Would Still Exist!