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Doing music theory at home?

(17 Posts)
Lovage Sun 28-Sep-14 19:59:24

DS(8) is learning the guitar privately and also goes to the council's music service where he does choir and 'musicianship' (kind of music appreciation). But because his guitar teaches strumming, not picking, he's not learning to read music and I'd really like him to. And I think he's like it too - he likes codes and things like that and is good at maths.

I've got Grade 5 Theory (although many, many years ago) and can read music so I was wondering if it was something we could do at home. But when I learned, it was deathly boring and everybody hated it (including me). We just worked through that little red book that everyone used. Are there more fun books to teach theory nowadays? Ideally ones that are quite self-explanatory because he prefers going off on his own to do something to me hovering over him. Or are there apps or YouTube videos or something to teach children to read music?

tinklykeys Sun 28-Sep-14 20:04:12

Yes, yes, I don't know how to link but if you look up Lina Ng on Amazon she has some greAt children's theory books, with stickers and everything! 'My first theory book' may be a little young for him, but he'd probably find it quite easy which is a bonus.

Honestly, these books were a revelation for me <gets a bit carried away>

lavendersun Sun 28-Sep-14 20:37:28

Yes Tinkly - we used those books, we started at nearly 6 with the first one and still use them now, I bought up to Gr 4. I don't remember there being any answers in any of them though but you will be able to tell whether the answers are right.

You can download theory workbooks at LCM, mind you they are not really cheaper than buying them once you have printed them.

Lovage Sun 28-Sep-14 21:51:58

Thanks those look good. I do wish so many of the series weren't called 'for little children' though! He'll hate that! And 'made easy' is kind of off-putting because it makes it sound like a hard thing, and I don't want to present it like that, I want to present it as a fun code/puzzle kind of thing!

I think the first one might be too young for him. Presumably the one's designed for older children start at a more advanced place though. He's almost completely a beginner at reading music. Oh dear, have we left it too late?! Might get one for DS2(6) though.

Any other suggestions?

Mistigri Sun 28-Sep-14 22:43:19

There are some good apps for practising note reading. I bought one for DD who learnt to read music when she was younger, but was a bit rusty due to a period of playing guitar from tab (the one we have is called "note trainer").

lavendersun Mon 29-Sep-14 04:59:43

We also use LCM books, of course there are others: - search for 'lcm theory handbook'.

and downloadable here:

much less babyish looking.

lavendersun Mon 29-Sep-14 05:01:16

Link fail:

Lovage Mon 29-Sep-14 10:44:34

Thanks lavendersun, I'll investigate those. And thanks for the app suggestion Mistigri

Music theory just seems like something that it ought to be possible to teach so much more imaginatively than I was taught!

EvilTwins Tue 30-Sep-14 19:58:03

DTD1 learns piano and has a set of sheets called Monkey Puzzles which the music teacher at my school also uses for yr 7s. DTD2 learns flute and wanted some theory stuff but DTD1's is very piano-centric. I just looked on Amazon and found some generic books which she enjoys working through. They're 8.

Roisin Thu 09-Oct-14 07:04:45

We used the sticker books originally too; then moved on to the Trinity workbooks, which are more user friendly than the AB ones.

This wasn't for learning to read music though: he could already do that, it was for passing his grade 5 theory. He was 11, worked at home through the books, had 3 lessons on composition with his teacher, did some practice papers and passed gr5 with very high marks. It took 13 months from start to finish.

Mistigri Thu 09-Oct-14 11:06:17

How are you getting on?

I think with non-classical guitarists it's kind of helpful to distinguish "reading music" from other aspects of music theory. We are now one month into theory lessons, DD having done no formal theory prior to this academic year. Her main instrument is guitar which she plays almost exclusively from tab or by ear. The upshot is that while her note-reading is a little weak especially on the bass clef (which she had never used before starting piano lessons this summer), she is actually much more comfortable than other students in her class with other aspects of theory like chords and transposition, both of which are pretty fundamental to playing the guitar well.

Lovage Fri 10-Oct-14 09:27:13

I'm not! I couldn't immediately work out what to buy, life intervened and then I forgot. Thank you for the reminder! I might make them Christmas presents, which gives me a bit more time to get my act together...

That's really interesting about your DD finding chords and transposition easier. One of my strongest memories from early grades theory classes was the teacher grumbling about guitarists because they really struggled (great teaching! hmm) so it's really nice to hear that guitar has benefits later on.

Mistigri Fri 10-Oct-14 10:09:19

She does some jazz guitar, which does require theory. But obviously a beginner non-classical guitarist isn't going to be exposed to much theory, and not learning to "read music" can hold them back later so it's good to make the effort at this stage. (DD did recorder for some years so at least she could read the treble clef, but almost all of her other knowledge comes from guitar).

It is quite noticeable that compared to her musician friends she is very comfortable with transposition ...for eg she would have no problem transposing a guitar piece played with a capo so that it could be played on the piano in the correct key, or on the guitar without a capo.

buggerthebotox Sun 12-Oct-14 20:40:17

LCM do a series of publications on Rock and Pop Theory, grades 1-8. If guitar's his thing, would it be easier to learn tablature? As far as I can see, notational theory is less important to a guitarist than, say, a pianist.

I'd get onto Amazon and have a look. Theory books are dirt cheap and there's a great selection.

Lovage Mon 13-Oct-14 13:57:40

I think I do want him to learn to read music properly. He's a keen singer so he may well need it for that later and also I value being able to read music myself so much that I really want it for my kids too! DS2 is okay because he's learning piano and has already picked up some with a bit of recorder but DS1 refuses to learn any instrument except guitar, so I feel I do need the extra input.

Ferguson Sat 03-Jan-15 18:25:38

If you are still following this 'thread', piano or keyboard is the easiest way to learn both notation and also Music Theory. Some keyboards can aid learning, as if you play a CHORD the display will tell you what chord it is.

On a piano or keyboard the notes for the Right Hand - Treble Clef - and the Left Hand - Bass Clef - SEEM like two different things, but in fact they are each one half of the the Grand Staff:

Something hard to grasp at first is: "Why is there no Black note between B&C, and between E&F? A novice can play a Scale of C, which just uses all the White notes from C to the next C an Octave higher. And one might imagine all the 'steps' are equal: BUT THEY ARE NOT! (I will leave you to discover 'why not' for yourselves.)

Theory is often viewed as a mysterious 'black art' but in fact it follows the laws of Physics and Maths, and once you get to grips with Harmonics and the Circle of Fifths other things can fall into place:
(I hope this link works.)

So while DS should continue with Guitar, I also think that access to a reasonable Keyboard (full size keys, a minimum of 61, ideally more, touch sensitivity, and MIDI to connect to computers and other equipment) will pave the way towards playing more advanced music, and UNDERSTANDING how music works.

Lovage Mon 05-Jan-15 13:24:56


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