I think the sentence below could be better put. In particular, I wonder whether 'practical' and 'intellectual' are the best 'headings' (?) for the broad areas of musical study (explained below).

When you start to play the piano there are many things you will need to learn - both practical and intellectual.

Practical study - activities that make a piano player better able to control their fingers and hands.

Intellectual study - activities that enhance a piano player's understanding of rhythm, harmony, melody, notation.

  • 1
    Music is also good for your soul...looks like a BOP issue here.
    – user66974
    Feb 1, 2017 at 14:58
  • 2
    Music theory; theoretical, not intellectual
    – Lambie
    Feb 1, 2017 at 20:40
  • 3
    When you start playing the piano you will have to practice and learn music theory.
    – Lambie
    Feb 1, 2017 at 20:45
  • 1
    I agree with @Lambie you are talking about musical theory. Feb 10, 2017 at 0:49

1 Answer 1


I think just a little change is in order:

When you start to play the piano there are many things you will need to learn - both physical and intellectual.

I am sure for most people knowing (intellectual) and doing (physical) are not the same thing. And my experience (quite a bit) says that intellectual and physical cover just about everything in playing any instrument. As to the piano, this is especially so. Knowing where one's arms, hands, fingers and feet should be in no way assures they will be there. Playing is quite physical.
One might write:

When you start to play the piano there are many things you will need to learn - both theoretical and practical.

but I prefer intellectual and physical.

  • 3
    Music has two components: Playing it and understanding it: practice and theory.
    – Lambie
    Feb 1, 2017 at 20:44
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    That's fine. I accept that. I once had the duty to explain to a young lady why she could not play the conventional 6 hole flute ( of course, with more holes than that covered by keying). Between her two hands, she only had 6 digits, two of them thumbs. Her father said she could overcome almost anything.. I told him this was not to be overcome. I put the flute in her hands and described what was required... after a time, she admitted she would not be a flute player. For me, practice requires intellectual and physical skills as a sine qua non. But I will accept other views on the thing.
    – J. Taylor
    Feb 1, 2017 at 21:15
  • Very helpful, thanks. When you start to play the piano you will need not only to learn theory, but also to acquire practical skill. Or, When you start to play the piano you need not only to practise physical exercises (to develop practical skill), but also to use your intellect (to understand musical theory). I wonder if there are any other terms that might be used.
    – Dan
    Feb 1, 2017 at 23:31
  • I have no doubt we could fill a good sized box with words and phrases. Then a book. then a library.. I'm not sure I wish to begin that journey today.
    – J. Taylor
    Feb 1, 2017 at 23:52

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