View Full Version : Music theory?

12-03-2012, 08:15 AM
Does anyone have their kids learning music theory? DS has been making some very cool connections lately between music (he takes guitar lessons) and math, and also with poetry. I don't know much about theory, but it sounds like it might be really interesting to him; he definitely benefits when things "make sense" (have an order, have a specific reason). Any experience out there?

12-03-2012, 10:37 AM
Eh, sorta. We haven't gotten very far into it yet, though. When DD gets a little older (9 or 10), I'll have both kids work through some more advanced books. I'll probably just grab something off Amazon or from one of the local music shops. For now, all we've done is work through the three books in this series: Let's Learn Music. (http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Learn-Music-Book-Primary/dp/B000FA1Q3K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354548772&sr=8-1&keywords=let%27s+learn+music) It's very simple - note names/lengths, rests, etc., but I didn't want to bog them down. I suspect your son is wanting something more difficult; I don't have any great suggestions, but I hope he has fun with it!

12-03-2012, 12:29 PM
Thanks for that, Cat. I think I'll talk with his music teacher this week and see what he says. My guess is that he'll incorporate theory into the lessons as it fits to start, and see where DS takes it. His methods are totally in synch with our general parenting and homeschooling philosophy--kind of a give him the tools he asks for and let him take it from there attitude. I fully trust him to read the spark. :)

12-03-2012, 01:00 PM
It's included in our music lessons (one in piano and one in percussion). The piano has a separate theory book to work through, so you could look at Bastien or Alfred piano books and just look for theory books.

We also have this that we are going to start next semester, but it is more music history than theory.
Discovering Music Curriculum (http://discoveringmusic.net/)

12-04-2012, 12:09 AM
My guitar hangs next to the piano, and the recorder, and they get used from time to time, and my daughter (8) really ought to be getting some music training. Sadly, she wasn't able to tell which of two notes was higher, if they were only a few notes apart, and can sing *mostly* on key only if someone else is singing with her, but leave her unaccompanied, and she's all over the map. Like my sister and dear husband, neither of whom can carry a tune at all, independently.

Weirdly, I'm not sure I know how to help in a case like that. I know about intervals and ear training using them, but what do you do with someone who can't tell the difference between a major 3rd and a major 2nd? Or even accurately tell you which note of the two was the higher one? There were kids like that in my class, and I'm sorry to say, some of them never could get it. They just couldn't hear it. Maybe tone-deafness is like color-blindness? I can't see the dull or dark shades of green, and no amount of training can help that.

Still, if I had the chance, I'd outsource that training, for my daughter, because I am probably the worst teacher ever for someone like that. I just can't conceive of how it is they can't hear it, and don't know what to do about it. There must be something online for music theory and ear training, right? I don't believe she's hopeless or anything...she probably could improve with the right help. But a teacher who doesn't get how it's not all obvious from the start, is a bad teacher, and unfortunately, that's me in this case.

12-04-2012, 09:39 AM
Could it be a vocabulary issue? Maybe the problem is that she doesn't understand what "higher" means in the context of a music note.
I am thinking of my own kids. The daughter who has taken piano for three years has a much better grasp of this than the two that haven't (she is the youngest). None of us has perfect pitch, so maybe it takes more practical experience in dealing with the notes.
The theory that is with our piano books does not really deal with ear training. It is more about intervals, chords, key, major/minor. I am sure that hearing it comes with learning about it though.

Another thought: If she is really visual or likes science, could you show her a picture of sounds waves and the difference in how a high pitch and a lot pitch look? Maybe that would help her.

12-06-2012, 08:25 AM
Look what Homeschool Buyers Co-op has!

01-12-2015, 01:40 PM
Im looking for something for DS9 now, too. When classical music comes on in the car (ipod plays entire library in order by title, so very random mix), he immediately comments how he likes it. I think some music training so he can identify orchestral elements would be easy to sneak in without him feeling like its schoolwork.

And there are no reviews in the curriculum section :o

What do other non-musically inclined parents use to teach their kids?


01-12-2015, 05:31 PM
Yes! Music theory is part of our curriculum.

There are a lot of pieces to music theory. (I'm assuming we're talking about "music theory" = "how Western music works.") First is learning to read the map: lines and spaces, the grand staff, the clefs, the notes, accidentals, etc. Then keys, the circle of 5ths, intervals, chords and so on.

As for the mathematical structure of Western harmony, there *are* some fascinating relationships (A4 is 440 Hz and the A an octave higher is 880 Hz. etc.) There are some interesting physics demonstrations that you can at least see on YouTube - the Rubens Tube standing wave. Even just applying different weights to wire of different gauges to observe the effect on the pitch produced by plucking, the effect of string length, etc. With the guitar, there are some demonstrations you can do to show the presence of harmonics in complex waveforms by partially stopping the string at certain points (I'm not a guitarist; but I'm assuming it's like harmonics in violin playing.)

Outside the context of learning a musical instrument, I can imagine it could all be a little "dry" though (well, apart from the Ruben's Tube - which is pretty cool no matter what.)

DD is a Suzuki violinist; and her teacher uses the "I Can Read Music" series. Very gently graded exercises. She's on volume 2 now. Nothing but good things to say about it. I know that there are versions for viola and cello; but unsure about other instruments.

Then there's the whole music appreciation part that others have mentioned - the periods of music, the different musical forms in each period. For that, there's a vintage book that we look at: "Music: Ways of Listening."

01-12-2015, 06:27 PM
I also think the physics behind music is pretty cool. But a bit over my sons head. Hes still working on obtuse and acute angles. ;)
We tried teaching him how to read music going along with recorder lessons (from Grandma). He was terrible, thought he was good, and refused to apply what he was being told (we find this a lot with him - he thinks he knows how to do it better than the adult or the text).
So now Im looking to find something i guess more *music appreciation* then be able to move into more technical aspects. When i was a kid, I had a record of Peter and the Wolf, where the narrator introduced each instrument as its part. It was a long time ago, but I think it taught me the different orchestra instruments.
Take advantage of his interest in classical music to learn something, and perhaps not be as musically illiterate as his mum. :p