The debate over the importance of music theory has gone on for years. Today, it is easier than ever to learn an instrument, thanks to the myriad of different music education resources online. Students love the instant gratification that the internet provides. The quest for instant gratification leads to them skipping some steps, most notably music theory. Music theory is the study of what makes the art form work. It seeks to define the essence of music and how it is influenced by melodies, chords, and rhythms. Theory has historically been a core principle taught to instrumentalists. Now, it can be an afterthought. Every student should seek out at least basic music theory instructions for the following reasons.
It is a musical tool
Even the best musicians in the world struggle from time to time to come up with great ideas. Players need something to fall back on when the music isn't flowing out of in the way desired. Music theory helps with this immensely. A better understanding of the math behind music lets you always play something that sounds good by eliminating the guessing game musicians get trapped in.
It improves the musical ear
Music theory studies improve aural skills. Your ear will naturally know where to go next as you learn more. This vastly improves transcribing skills. On top of making you a better performer, it improves listening skills, meaning you will find new enjoyment in music you didn't appreciate before.
You can't break the rules if you don't know the rules
The best players and composers in the world become that because they have an interesting voice. Oftentimes, they break the rules of music theory just enough to be interesting without doing it so much that it sounds bad. It is impossible to test the boundaries of something if you don't know what those boundaries are. Learning a musical instrument and stuck in a rut? You may want to learn some music theory. Businesses like C.R. Carole have music theory books available to get you started on the path. Theory books exist for every musician from beginners all the way to graduate level books for college music majors. Private lessons are an ideal resource as well for learning theory. Sometimes hearing an expert put a concept into different words can be the thing that finally makes it all click. If you feel you are plateauing, learn more theory.