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#2100241 - 06/10/13 11:09 AM "Condensed" or Adult Theory books?
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Does anyone have a recommendation for workbook-type-book that would be useful for a student who is either older and/or been playing for several years, but has basically no grasp or understanding of any music theory?
I have recently inherited a couple students in this category, (for example, one is in Alfred level 6, and can feel out a "C" chord, but has no idea *how* to find other chords, or how they are related, etc.) I'm gradually teaching/explaining these concepts, but I think it would be a lot more beneficial if I could have something concrete/pre-written, that they could go home and work on and answer questions to reinforce what they're learning.

I'm aware of college-type textbooks, and obviously there are the 6-8 theory books that would go along with a method book, but is there something that's like... in the middle?

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#2100245 - 06/10/13 11:19 AM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3206
Loc: Virginia, USA
My wife was a music therapy major so she had the usual college theory texts.

I read through them, and I understood what I read, but none of it stuck.

Then I ended up running a praise & worship team, and suddenly I had to interpret lead sheets, add chords to melodies, add piano parts to guitar tab, spell chords as needed (what is D2?), transpose, etc. I didn't need deep theory, but what I did need was applied immediately. Now there was a purpose, and it all made sense. Theory was part of how we made music rather than an intellectual exercise.

I don't know if there's a text for that, but the "How to play from a leadsheet" book did help. Referring back to the theory texts when I had a specific question or need was more practical than trying to learn it all and never apply most of it.


Edited by TimR (06/10/13 11:20 AM)
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#2100255 - 06/10/13 11:29 AM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: TimR]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Good points; I don't disagree that it's hard to remember stuff like this when you don't have an immediate use for it. And leadsheets are a great idea - I've already started doing a tiny bit of that with one of the students.

Now... I'm not even talking about expecting them to know what a "Neopolitan 6th" is or whatever, but rather just what (I think!) is relatively basic stuff... how to know what key you are in based on a key signature, how to find the I, IV, and V7 chords in any key, what the "pattern" is to find any major scale, how a relative minor is related to its major, etc. So basically just the stuff that you would learn in any method series' theory books.

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#2100738 - 06/11/13 02:04 AM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 998
Loc: California, USA
I regularly use the "Basics of Keyboard Theory" by Julie McIntosh Johnson. They are graded into 10 levels, and there is also a "guide to AP theory" available. I haven't looked at the "guide to AP theory yet".
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#2100792 - 06/11/13 04:49 AM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5500
Loc: Orange County, CA
I prefer to make my own worksheets and handouts, since I find most graded theory books to be highly inadequate. Some of them contain errors!

Once you make a good worksheet, you can scan it and save it in pdf. Electronic versions of worksheets allow you to be more organized.
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#2101161 - 06/11/13 08:28 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: AZNpiano]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 998
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I prefer to make my own worksheets and handouts, since I find most graded theory books to be highly inadequate. Some of them contain errors!

Once you make a good worksheet, you can scan it and save it in pdf. Electronic versions of worksheets allow you to be more organized.

I agree that would be a good option. However it is also possible to supplement a theory text with some worksheets and provide solid training. I think that ditching the theory text altogether would increase teacher workload.
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#2102153 - 06/13/13 07:43 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: musicpassion]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Frankly, I find that all the 'adult-theory" books are pretty awful. At the very least, they usually insult the intelligence of the adult student. They often miss the point about functional listening and harmony, and the exercises are often useless or non-existent.

A few years ago, I sat down and wrote my own book.
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1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2102162 - 06/13/13 08:07 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
pianogirl87 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 107
Loc: New Jersey
I don't use a theory textbook with my adult students. I either use very generic worksheets or create my own for what exactly they are learning. With the latter, I can modify it to help the individual student with their specific needs.
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#2102186 - 06/13/13 09:34 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: musicpassion]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4810
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: musicpassion
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
I prefer to make my own worksheets and handouts, since I find most graded theory books to be highly inadequate. Some of them contain errors!

Once you make a good worksheet, you can scan it and save it in pdf. Electronic versions of worksheets allow you to be more organized.

I agree that would be a good option. However it is also possible to supplement a theory text with some worksheets and provide solid training. I think that ditching the theory text altogether would increase teacher workload.

In the long run AZN's approach would save time. It takes more time to continually fix things, add things that are missing.

The idea of condensing is totally the wrong way to go. Get solid materials, or create them yourself, then skip things with a fast student that do not need to be covered as many times. You can eliminate padding or boredom, but condensed books always leave things out.
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#2102191 - 06/13/13 10:05 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5500
Loc: Orange County, CA
Actually, my usual problem is going too fast. For kids who take forever to do their theory assignments, I often find myself teaching the same concept for weeks in a row.
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#2103513 - 06/16/13 08:28 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
JazzyMac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/13
Posts: 84
I have no idea what this means. Seems as if the popular book is Alfred's, but "theory books are bad"? What does that mean, and why do teachers use it?
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Hobby 1: Photography. Bucket List 1: Learning Piano

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#2103548 - 06/16/13 09:26 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: JazzyMac]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 998
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: JazzyMac
I have no idea what this means. Seems as if the popular book is Alfred's, but "theory books are bad"? What does that mean, and why do teachers use it?

I don't think the theory books I use are bad. In fact, I rather like them. But they are not perfect (thus my supplemental worksheets. In response to the other post, no it's not more work this way... I don't make that many worksheets).

The Alfred adult theory book is pretty lousy, IMHO. Moves too fast and skips things.
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#2103552 - 06/16/13 09:28 PM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: JazzyMac]
red-rose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/13
Posts: 177
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: JazzyMac
I have no idea what this means. Seems as if the popular book is Alfred's, but "theory books are bad"? What does that mean, and why do teachers use it?

? to whom is your question addressed? And from where did you get the quoted text that apparently confuses you?

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#2106532 - 06/23/13 01:49 AM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
ROMagister Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 518
Loc: Bucuresti, Romania
Gil deBenedetti's worksheets on the Net ?
They start from nearly zero up to AP level, whatever that is.

http://www.gmajormusictheory.org/Fundamentals/workbooks.html

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#2106541 - 06/23/13 02:41 AM Re: "Condensed" or Adult Theory books? [Re: red-rose]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
AP stands for Advanced Placement. These are a set of high school courses and nation-wide exams in the United States which are the equivalent of college courses. Given a sufficient score on the exam, these are often accepted for college credit.
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