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Music theory recommendations

(22 Posts)
catkind Thu 21-Jan-16 19:40:47

Hi, was wondering what theory books your kids use and do you like them?
DS is 6.5, has finished book 1 of Lina ng 'theory made easy for little children' and found it a bit slow/babyish. He plays the piano so already knows a fair amount about notation, some basic chords etc. So I guess we're looking for a faster moving series but still fun. Any suggestions?

DancingDuck Thu 21-Jan-16 22:17:40

Does he play an instrument? Tbh my DS picked up theory as he went along until he was grade 3 piano, then worked his way through grades 1-4 theory on his own using ASBM books and then sat Grade 5 after a few lessons with his teacher. Older than your DS, obviously grin but his teacher said the early grades are better learned within context of playing.

Ferguson Thu 21-Jan-16 22:28:58

The ABRSM books are by far the best; their Theory in Practice books, one for each Grade have explanations and space for written replies.

And there is a text book 'AB Guide to Music Theory , Part 1', which will be useful but will need adult support, as it does get quite technical.

All these are by Eric Taylor, and I see a new one to me, also by him : 'First Steps in Music Theory'.

It is important students try to UNDERSTAND what is going on, in 'sounds', 'harmonics', intervals etc, and don't just learn from books or teachers but without any understanding. All music is based on the Laws of Physics, regarding octaves, harmony, scales etc.

Fleurdelise Thu 21-Jan-16 22:29:43

Lina Ng has also graded books, DD started with the theory made easy for little children book 1 followed by 2 and then moved on to grade 1 by Lina Ng. It is a more mature and follows the grade 1 level but still fun.

Theory Of Music Made Easy Grade 1 by Lina Ng (2003) Paperback

catkind Fri 22-Jan-16 00:23:50

Thanks all, will take a look at those suggestions. It sounds like a grade 1 book may be the way to go, either ABRSM or Lina Ng. If it proves too hard we can always backtrack and come back to it later.

DancingDuck, yes, he plays the piano - but I'm teaching him for the moment, hence needing to ask. Maybe not strictly necessary at this stage but he fancies it, and I think he's far enough that it would help consolidate what he learns through his piano books not just be throwing random new stuff at him.

Ferguson, do you think that understanding the harmonic series is helpful to getting the chord patterns? At the moment I tend to explain theory things in terms of patterns of tones and semitones and just getting him to play chords on the keyboard and get the feel for them. I don't really want to get into explaining equal temperament just yet! (Though DH does so perhaps I'll just leave that to him...)

TannhauserGate Fri 22-Jan-16 00:28:38

DD has these ones - they're definitely a step up from the Ng ones (which were good when she was smaller).

Ferguson Sat 23-Jan-16 19:34:41

OP - I'm not saying they need to understand EVERYTHING about music, but to start with, that longer strings give lower notes, and a string half-as-long is an octave higher.

I guess string players will assimilate those concepts as part of playing their instrument, but it is less obvious to Piano, Keyboard or Organ players. When I tried to teach myself electronic organ, in the '80s, I had imagined 'chords' were formulated by Italians in the 1500s! Although, I should have had been able to work it out, if I had thought about, as in the '70s I had used VCS3 synthesizers at evening classes; and I was in good company as Pink Floyd also used them!

And understanding why 'black notes' are grouped in twos and threes, may help with learning scales.

GinandJag Sun 24-Jan-16 15:52:22

Music theory at age 6?

DD is 14, doing Grade 5 voice and about to start music theory at school.

catkind Sun 24-Jan-16 16:22:07

Is it unusual? A fair number of the kids we know who have lessons have been set going on theory books by their teachers. Including DD who's not yet 4! (Obviously, she has the sticker book version.) That's what set DS off wanting to do some.

GinandJag Sun 24-Jan-16 16:26:22

I'd say very unusual, but my experience is with children who have proper music lessons at school.

catkind Sun 24-Jan-16 16:34:41

Ferguson, I'm afraid I can't remember my music history very well. I thought major and minor scales only came in around the baroque era? Or at least they only became preferred to other options then, in western classical music. I could be way out though. I have a book about it all somewhere, must dig it out. I do know on string instruments it doesn't quite work - if you tune in perfect fifths, the cello C and the violin E don't sound right together, you have to tune very slightly closer.

catkind Sun 24-Jan-16 16:44:23

Maybe it just depends on the teacher then Gin. I think it's helpful.

Ferguson Sun 24-Jan-16 20:03:41

catkind - you have probably forgotten more 'music history' than I ever knew!

That's why I played drums for forty years, because I couldn't master all the technical stuff of notation and harmony!

But ANY experience of making music is good for children. I taught 'informal' recorder, keyboard, and percussion to primary children for ten years.

Often, though I think, the parents 'push' it because they didn't bother when THEY were children, and now wish they had.

catkind Sun 24-Jan-16 21:26:08

smile if anything I push it because I did do music as a young child and it has been such a joy in my life. But mainly because we have a lot of fun with it. I love the teaching books they have now, nothing like the dry stuff I learned on. I get to play lots of duets with both of them too.

Greenleave Mon 25-Jan-16 21:54:16

We are only beginner: 8 yrs old and working on grade 3 and started theory last week cos her mom(me) never knew she could/should learn theory. We started with the AB guide. She read chapter 1-6 twice, took about 1 hour each time and work on the practice book. Took another 2 hours for the book. She will be doing past exam 2013 grade 1 tomorrow.

It goes ok. I was worried that the language in the AB guide might be too dry for her taste however she said the book is ok, she learns and understand the sight reading better(her weakness).

Thats us with the theory so far. I am hoping for 1 year for grade 5 test to pass. Thats my aim

LooseAtTheSeams Mon 25-Jan-16 22:11:42

I've just booked theory lessons for both DSs. They'll have half an hour a week in a joint lesson. It'll be interesting to see how this goes and I'll post here if any other books are recommended, though I am pretty sure it'll be ABRSM workbooks.

raspberryrippleicecream Tue 26-Jan-16 00:53:23

I don't think it's that unusual GinandJag, though I'm not sure what you mean my proper lessons at school.

My DS passed his Grade 5 theory last year at 12, enabling him to sit ABRSM piano Grade 6 last summer. Not at school.

However theory was also being taught in his curriculum music lessons at school.

LooseAtTheSeams Sun 07-Feb-16 09:13:19

We had the theory lesson and just ABRSM books were recommended. If you're doing this at home only, bear in mind the answers to workbooks and past papers are sold separately!
I'm hoping DS1 can take the grade 5 in the summer so it's out of the way. He only needs it for tuned percussion with ABRSM. He's done some grade 4 theory papers st school apparently, but I don't know how well he did on those.

catkind Sun 07-Feb-16 10:06:41

This thread popping up reminds me I still haven't got around to ordering them. I'm thinking we'll try the non abrsm ones as it's just for fun at the mo. Answers I can do myself looseattheseams smile

LooseAtTheSeams Sun 07-Feb-16 10:09:35

Oh, yes I remember you're teaching piano! It was just a general observation - I am really glad to have a teacher to mark them! smile

catkind Sun 07-Feb-16 10:31:21


ShellingPeasAgain Mon 08-Feb-16 19:45:05

The ABRSM ones are as dull as ditchwater. I use the Ying Ying Ng Theory for Young Musicians (graded series). they are far more approachable and follow the ABRSM syllabus. I came across them after seeing them being recommended on the ABRSM forum and they are so much better, especially for primary aged children.

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