I’ve been teaching music for over 20 years and I can’t wait to tell you about Theory Time ! The fact of the matter is, Theory Time can’t be beat for excellence in Music Theory. Heather, the author, provides very clear, concise instruction to reinforce new concepts for the student and I love seeing students understand not just the music that they are playing, but music THEORY. If you’re wondering what that means, Music Theory as a practical discipline that encompasses the methods and concepts composers and other musicians use in creating music. So, while your student is learning to play, they are also learning methods and concepts that will help them be a better musician down the road.
Learning basic Music Theory is also essential for enhancing creativity and developing a sense of musical awareness. It is a challenging but rewarding set of skills to learn. Music Theory examines key signatures, pitches, intervals, scales, chords, and other music fundamentals. It also provides insight into the basic building blocks of music that form harmony, melody, and rhythm. If you listen to music or play music by ear, and you want to know more about how music is organized and notated, Music Theory is what you need to study and learn.
Many music students make the mistake of learning Music Theory on paper only. Hearing the music first in your mind and then in real life on the piano is of utmost importance when learning Music Theory. Far too many students end up learning theory only on paper and they rarely understand how the music actually sounds in real life. For them, learning music theory is like solving a math problem, whereas applied theory is really what is most important, since that is what actually teaches you how to play the piano. Your goal when learning an instrument is to develop real musicianship — to really to understand the notes you play — not just the memory of where the notes are on the keyboard.
Let me backtrack a little bit (and get off my soap box as well). I mentioned I’ve taught music for over 20 years. Specifically, the Piano and Violin. However, I can’t get my son to pick up any instrument (slowly puts soap box away). My husband and I have tried everything. He just has no interested in it. So, I was excited to review these workbooks to see if they would pique his interest at all. I have to tell you, they did! The first workbook we zoomed through — he thought it was fun. We did skip a few sections because he wasn’t interested in learning the “keys” but I didn’t push him. I wanted him to take the lead on this.
A few weeks later, we picked up the workbook for Grade 1. He is a second grader, but I thought it was important to go in sequence. Especially since he has never had an interest in music. He does, however, have an interest in words. So, we went right to the vocabulary section. He had no idea what any of it meant. So, it was my time to explain to him what they meant and what these words meant in regards to the piano. He actually started lighting up. We sat down at the piano and I started playing a little tune that he knew well. I said the words out loud as I performed them. Now I want to be clear — you don’t have to be a music teacher to do this or get your kids excited about learning the piano. I believe these workbooks can get any kid excited about playing…even if you know nothing about music.
The key to these workbooks and learning to play music is that you understand the vocabulary. Once you learn how to read music, you can play anything. This starts students out at a young age and teaches them the basics, so that they have a foundation to build upon. We’re still working with these workbooks and I can’t express my gratitude enough to the author, Heather, for writing these and producing them. I’m excited to be able to use these workbooks with my students in the months to come, but what really makes my heart happy is that my son, who has never been musically talented or had any interest in music, has now taken up an interest. I even found him the other day playing a few notes. When I told him it sounded wonderful and asked him what he was doing, he said “practicing the C major scale.” I almost died right there in the hallway.
If you’re interested in learning more about Theory Time and what they offer, I highly suggest you head over to their website. Theory Time designs and publishes instructional materials for general music theory study, and currently offers over 120 products for music educators and homeschoolers. As a homeschooling mom of 3, quality educational materials is always something I strive to bring into my household, and these workbooks are no exception. They are high quality and really provide a ton of value to any homeschooling parent that wants to introduce music into their homeschool routine.
As a quick note, each workbook level includes vocabulary, ear training, graphic hints, Fun and Challenge sheets, and a comprehensive review test. The reason that all of these are so important is that each level requires practice. We all know that learning something new requires practice, but what I love about Theory Time is that you learn not only how to play the music, but the background needed to excel at it.
Check Out the Theory Time Video Below
Info on each workbook follows. I’ve included pictures of actual pages from four of the 12 books.
The Primer Theory Fundamentals Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook presents keyboard drill; high, middle and low; up and down; music alphabet; introduction to the staff; dynamics; line and space notes; steps and skips on a keyboard/staff; repeated notes; treble clef lines and spaces; bass clef lines and spaces; quarter note and rest; half note and rest; whole note and rest; dotted half note; rhythm drill; ear-training and a review test. The Primer workbook is perfect for a Kindergarten student or a young first or second grader. It’s also a good place to start if you know absolutely nothing about music. My son and I went through this book quickly – I’m glad we didn’t skip it.
The GRADE ONE Theory Fundamentals Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook presents info on the music alphabet; an introduction to keyboard and staff; stem rule; steps and skips on a keyboard and staff; repeated notes; dynamics; treble clef line and spaces; bass clef lines and spaces; quarter note and rest; half note and rest; whole note and rest; dotted half note; bar lines; double bar line; measures; time signatures; rhythm drill; vocabulary; ear-training and a review test.
The GRADE TWO Theory Fundamentals Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook presents the music alphabet; keyboard drill; stem rule; steps; skips; repeated notes; drawing the treble and bass clef; treble and bass clef lines and spaces; quarter note and rest; half note and rest; whole note and rest; dotted half note; introduction to two-8th notes; measures; bar lines; double bar line; time signatures; sharps and flats; ear-training and more.
The Grade Three Theory Fundamentals Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook presents information on the music alphabet; rests; stem rule; drawing the treble clef; treble clef lines and spaces; drawing the bass clef; bass clef lines and spaces; measures; bar lines; grand staff; intervals on a keyboard and staff; half and whole steps; sharps and flats; major scale pattern; the major scales of C, F and G; triads, ear-training and a review test.
The Grade Four Early Intermediate Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook teaches half and whole steps; sharps; flats; major scale pattern and scales of C, G D, A, E and F; circle of 5ths; drawing and naming major key signatures; triads and chords; Major 3rds and minor 3rds; and more.
The Grade Five Early Intermediate Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook covers the topics of stem rule; the introduction to 16th note and rest; dotted quarter notes; ledger lines; melodic and harmonic intervals; half and whole steps; major scale pattern; major scales and key signatures through 5 sharps and 5 flats; circle of 5ths; major and minor 3rds; drawing major triads; primary chords; cadence; vocabulary; ear-training; a review test; and more.
The Grade Six Intermediate Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook presents info concerning stem rule; treble and bass clef note drill; ledger lines; introduction to 6/8 time; triplets; intervals; major scale pattern; all major scales; circle of 5ths, drawing and naming major key signatures; major and minor 3rds; major and minor triads; plus so much more.
The Grade Seven Intermediate Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook teaches writing and identifying intervals; melodic and harmonic intervals; chromatic and diatonic half steps; double sharps and double flats; simple and compound meter; a review of major scales; key signatures and triads; relative minor keys; natural minor scales; lead-sheets; chording, vocabulary; ear-training; and more.
The Grade Eight Intermediate Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook covers the topics of perfect, major, augmented and diminished intervals; chromatic and diatonic half steps; major, minor and diminished triads; simple, compound and asymmetrical meter; cut time; natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales; a review of major key signatures; composition; parallel keys, primary chords on a single and grand staff; ear-training and more.
The Grade Nine Advanced Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook covers the following – classification of intervals by type and size; inversion of intervals; major, minor, diminished and augmented triads; relative major and minor keys; 3 types of minor scales; parallel keys; authentic and half cadences; voice-leading rules; perfect and imperfect cadences; melody writing; ear-training; review; and more.
The Grade Ten Advanced Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook covers the topics of augmented and diminished intervals and inversions; chromatic and diatonic half steps; enharmonic notes; major, minor, diminished and augmented triads and inversions; diatonic, chromatic and whole tone scales; three types of minor scales; seventh chords; major and minor circle of 5ths; relative and parallel keys; simple, compound and irregular meter; open and close harmony in four-part writing; lead sheet notation, and more.
The Grade Eleven College Prep Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook teaches the following – simple, compound and irregular meter; music algebra; major, minor, diminished and augmented intervals; triads and inversions; chromatic and diatonic half steps; scale degree names; major/minor circle of 5ths; relative and parallel keys; major and minor scales; seventh chords; melody writing, vocabulary, ear-training, and more.
The Grade Twelve College Prep Heather Rathnau, NCTM workbook – this workbook includes information on simple and compound intervals; major, minor, diminished and augmented intervals; triads and inversions; scale degree names; four-part writing with inversions using figured bass; voice leading rules; seventh chords and inversions; primary and secondary chords; doubling rules; monophonic, polyphonic and homophonic music; Alberti bass, and more.
In addition to the workbooks, Theory Time also offers music theory worksheets formatted in unbound packets including the following legally reproducible products:
- music theory worksheets
- rhythm worksheets
- piano theory worksheets
- beginner music theory worksheets
- music theory worksheets intermediate and advanced
- worksheets – music theory rhythm
- music theory placement test
Worksheets are great for a co-op setting.
Even more things I like about Theory Time:
- The content is so thorough. Really, so much info is presented!
- The info is presented logically – with a building block approach – and is presented in a user-friendly format.
- New concepts are introduced while continually reinforcing previous material
- Lesson variety!
- The lessons are fun. Now, that’s important.
- You don’t have to be a musician, to start this program.
- Theory Time grows with your child – which I like, as I appreciate consistency. Plus, it makes it a little easier on me. I’m not going to have to shop for another music program for YEARS. Yah!
- The workbooks are a nice size, with a wipe-able cover (wipe-able is important at our house).
- I like that the books are different colors. If you have multiple kids, in different books, it’s nice for you child to know which book is hers. It’s also fun to graduate to the next colored book.
- I like the Congratulations page at the end of each book.
- I like all the extras you can get for free or purchase on their site, including revised and additional pages for Theory Time Workbook Series Grades 1-10.
- Theory Time is developing a new video subscription website. This will be an absolutely GREAT teaching resource for the homeschool community! This website will eventually feature Heather teaching every lesson in every workbook that Theory Time has in print, including the K-12 Series and Medallion Series. When finished, this website will have approximately 280 videos of Heather teaching the content of the Theory Time workbook series. I can’t wait. But in the meantime, I’m glad we’ve started the workbooks. They’re absolutely wonderful! 🙂
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- Theory Time Product Review