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Why and How to Learn Theory, with Matthew Scott Phillips and Jeremy Burns

Matthew and Jeremy from Music Student 101 stopped by The Musicality Podcast to talk about the big mindset shift you need to make learning music theory fun and successful.

Today on the Musicality Podcast, we have two guests joining us on the show: Matthew Scott Phillips and Jeremy Burns, who together host the Music Student 101 podcast, a terrific show that dives deep into music theory in a way that makes it easy to understand, as well as covering other topics like music careers, different instruments, and tips for bands.

Matthew and Jeremy are based in Birmingham, Alabama, and although they studied some of the same courses at university together, their musical lives have taken them in quite different directions. Matthew is the award-winning composer of over 70 instrumental and vocal works in a wide range of musical styles, and is now a professor of music at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jeremy runs Area 47 Sound, where he has recorded sound for commercials, documentary, film, national news, and prime time television. He’s also a bassist, performing live with three bands.

We’re regular listeners of the Music Student 101 podcast and often recommend it to people who ask us how they can brush up on their music theory – so we were really delighted when they agreed to come on our podcast and share their own experiences and insights.

In this episode we talk about:
- How music theory and ear training have played a part in two quite different music careers – one into academia and composing, the other into performance and live sound recording
- The big mindset shift you need to make learning music theory fun and successful
- The core skill that underlies having a good ear, and bridges the gap between musical ear training and audio ear training
And we ask them the very blunt question: “Is there a point to doing a music degree?”

If you’ve ever questioned the usefulness of music theory or a music degree – or wondered if they’re things you’re missing out on, this conversation with Matthew and Jeremy is going to provide you with some real wisdom and insight.


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