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Self-learning music theory

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#1 Franek

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 18:58

Hello,

 

I have been playing piano for some time and would like to focus on theory of music as I approach more advanced pieces.

 

I cannot choose which books are good. There are plenty of them. I am kind of self learner. Some people recommend Trinity College London but I am not convinced this should be my choice because some of them are active in Trinity so their recommendations might be biased. I am looking for a second opinion.

 

So far I have found the following series of workbooks / exercises:

  • Series of Trinity College London Workbooks (Grade 1-8)
  • Series of ABRSM Music Theory in Practice (Grade 1-5) by Eric Taylor
  • Series if Theory of Music MADE EASY series by Lina Ng (Grade 1-8)

I also found following books:

  • ABRSM The AB Guide to Music Theory Part I and II by Eric Taylor
  • ARBSM First Step in Music Theory Grade 1-5

Which book series or books do you think are good for me, self learner :)

 

Thanks

 

 

 

PS> Below I provide links to each book if someone wants to check:

Trinity College London:
https://www.musicroo...m-2007-grade-1/
https://www.musicroo...m-2007-grade-2/
https://www.musicroo...m-2007-grade-3/
https://www.musicroo...m-2007-grade-4/
https://www.musicroo...m-2007-grade-5/
https://www.musicroo...rkbook-grade-6/
https://www.musicroo...rkbook-grade-7/
https://www.musicroo...rkbook-grade-8/


ARBSM Music in Practice:
https://www.musicroo...d-2008-edition/
https://www.musicroo...d-2008-edition/
https://www.musicroo...d-2008-edition/
https://www.musicroo...d-2008-edition/
https://www.musicroo...d-2008-edition/


Theory of Music MADE EASY:
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-1/
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-2/
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-3/
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-4/
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-5/
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-6/
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-7/
https://www.musicroo...e-easy-grade-8/


ARBSM The AB Guide to Music Theory:
https://www.musicroo...-theory-part-i/
https://www.musicroo...theory-part-ii/

First Step in Music Theory:
https://www.musicroo...n-music-theory/
 


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#2 gemmasue

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 20:06

I had to do grade 5 theory a few years ago. I'd never done theory before and only knew what I'd learnt from playing flute.

I did ABRSM, so have no knowledge of their books. I got the AB guide to music books- they're good, but very technical. I didn't understand a lot of it because it wasn't explained simply enough. I also had the first step in music theory- it was really good, much more simple to understand.

The music theory in practice books are good, but you would have to work through each grade. I only had the grade 5 and it didn't cover the info that had been been taught in previous grades. Still, it was useful and the explanations were pretty good.

The only other book I used was by someone called Dorothy Dingle (I think it was called Pass grade 5 theory). It had very clear explanations and it helped me understand quite of lot of the things that confused me. The only issue was it didn't have an answers page, so I never knew if I'd answered questions correctly without checking with my teacher!!

Anyway, I would definitely recommend the first steps in music theory book as a start. It's a shame you can't borrow them from a library, it'd be helpful to be able to have a look at them before you buy. Do you have a music shop locally where you could have a browse?

Hope I helped a little!
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#3 jim palmer

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 22:30

This is good for serious students wanting to go beyond G5

 

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#4 BadStrad

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Posted 04 July 2017 - 00:45

Jim's suggestion is useful especially as there is an answer book too (though there are some errors).

Up to grade five, theory isn't particularly challenging and all the boards cover much the same material. Trinity are more generous wrt free past papers and mark schemes (well they were - haven't checked for a while).

If you are thinking about theory exams, down load the syllabus from each exam board and you'll see what's covered. The Eric Taylor books are divided by topic rather than progression so do not provide a progressive approach to each topic, but you can cross reference to the syllabus if you are exam orientated.

And note the AB are changing their theory exams. More info on the website.
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#5 WillRoberts

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 07:02

Don't forget the internet!  There are a few great websites that don't cost anything to use.

?This one is like a set of lectures, just click a topic and press the down arrow to navigate through: https://www.musictheory.net/lessons
This is like the one above but with video lectures: http://www.musictheoryvideos.com/

This looks a bit clunkier but is actually probably my favourite.  Very comprehensive and information organised by grade: https://www.mymusictheory.com/

This site is great for rote learning and therefore useful in memorising foreign terms: https://www.memrise....c-theory-abrsm/

 

...and there are probably hundreds more if you care to look.


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#6 polkadot

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 08:01

 

  • ABRSM The AB Guide to Music Theory Part I and II by Eric Taylor
  • ARBSM First Step in Music Theory Grade 1-5

 


The First Steps book is progressive, so you could probably whip through the early grade chapters very quickly. This little pocket book went everywhere with me when I was learning theory for the exams.  There are no exercises in it though as the ABRSM publishes other books with exercises in them.

 

I found the AB Guide Part I (aka the Pink Book) completely incomprehensible.  It would have put me off theory for life, but thankfully the First Steps book by the same author is much more learner-friendly for beginners.

 

My other favourite book was Dorothy Dingle's.  It's written in a very informal style and is very easy to follow.  There are lots of exercises in it as well, and I see from her web site that an answer book is now available.

 

I had quite a number of theory books and they all explain things in a slightly different way, so if I didn't understand something in one book, I would understand it better when explained in another book.  I just loved theory though so I probably went a bit OTT with the books.  However, if you just want to pass the G5 exam in order to progress with the practical, there's a book called Take 5 and Pass first time by Christopher Dunn, which condenses everything into the basics.

 

As has been said above, the ABRSM theory exam is changing so all these books will be out of date.  The musical information in them will still be accurate, but the books may contain chapters which you no longer need for the exam, or not contain some new exam content.

 

Have fun, and welcome to the forum! 

 


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#7 sbhoa

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 10:54

 

 

  • ABRSM The AB Guide to Music Theory Part I and II by Eric Taylor
  • ARBSM First Step in Music Theory Grade 1-5

 


The First Steps book is progressive, so you could probably whip through the early grade chapters very quickly. This little pocket book went everywhere with me when I was learning theory for the exams.  There are no exercises in it though as the ABRSM publishes other books with exercises in them.

 

I found the AB Guide Part I (aka the Pink Book) completely incomprehensible.  It would have put me off theory for life, but thankfully the First Steps book by the same author is much more learner-friendly for beginners.

 

 

As has been said above, the ABRSM theory exam is changing so all these books will be out of date.  The musical information in them will still be accurate, but the books may contain chapters which you no longer need for the exam, or not contain some new exam content.

 

 

Yes, first Steps is a good little book for having everything ordered progressively in line with the exams.

The AB guides (pink and blue) I see as more like reference books to use with workbooks or to look up things.

 

From my understanding of the coming changes the actual knowledge for exams will remain the same but some questions will change.


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#8 Franek

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Posted 05 July 2017 - 11:33

Many thanks for your comments :) and the websites, as well. I think I know more or less what I need right now.


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