I had music classes in school, and I also took guitar lessons as a teenager. One thing that bothers me to this day is how much the focus was on learning the music.
When thinking about the creation of musical theory, someone started by creating music first. Then people started to notice trends between notes, create notation for writing the music, create the methodology for building and describing chords, composing scales, and then working on composition. All this put together presents a “science” to be learned, and that was the focus.
This is the part that made it hard for me to continue. I have a “creative” personality. I don’t like to tread as much in places where the work is already done, I like to tread in places where I can create something a bit new.
Music class in school didn’t have single composition component to it. There was a practice component, a ranking component of skill, a test component, but never a composition component.
What a waste!
Studying the arts is a chance to learn how to work where the scaffolding hasn’t been built. Sure, we want to build on the work of others, that’s how we propel society forward, but starting by working on a composition then learning how scales, chords, and notation makes your life easier show you their value much better than simply saying, “Here’s what you need to learn.”
This goes far beyond the music class. In nearly every industry there is someone waiting to tell you what you need to know. While I don’t recommend “trial by fire” as the only way to gain knowledge, I certainly recommend a quick failure or a slow, difficult success to let the student see what they are missing.
There is no chicken or the egg here, in the early days of music, the music was composed first, then later the musical theory happened. It’s often beneficial to start by learning in the same manner the pioneers did, then work to use the knowledge built to figure out what others have already painstakingly developed.