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Music Appreciation & Theory

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My high schoolers are watching The Teaching Company's "How To Listen To and Understand Great Music" 3rd edition. It's 48 hours long,


For music appreciation, I second the recommendation for the TC course. We love it. (Btw, it is actually only 36 hours, as every one of the 48 lectures is 45 minutes long). In addition to the course, we listen to CDs and discuss the music before the background of what we learned in the lectures. DD is also attending a number of live performances of various genres.


As for music theory: I do not think this a suitable course for a student who is not an active musician, i.e. either plays an instrument or sings. I would reserve a study of music theory for a student who at least has some basic piano skills, and only a student who is already an advanced musician will get much out of an actual theory class.

Edited by regentrude
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These are useful:




I haven't run through them all to see if they'd constitute an entire course, but the list of titles looks fairly complete for the basic stuff like key signatures and note values, as well as chords and intervals. You might have to add some stuff about musical form.


But if you're doing this with a student with no musical background, probably the more accepted course would be music appreciation -- which would be covered just fine by the TC lectures -- or maybe music history. I'm not aware of anyone teaching music theory to students who don't actually DO music -- either singing or playing or an instrument -- so I don't know if there are courses around that would really make sense for them.

Edited by flyingiguana
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We're working our way through The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory. I'm also supplementing occasionally with Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for all Musicians. Both come with CDs of ear training exercises. I'm using the Alfred's Essentials as more of a workbook because it has more written exercises.


I also found a neat flash card style music theory app for the Ipad that includes ear training exercises (recognizing intervals).

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If you are looking for a text, Roger Kamien's Music: An Appreciation is a great text used in college level music appreciation courses, as well as TOG. There are many editions available on ebay, as well as sets of listening CDs. You may even be able to find it in your library system. It covers many of the same works as the TC courses, but it seems to me that the songs are played in greater length on the CDs than on the TC videos. There are "brief" editions, which simply don't cover quite as much info in each section of the text. There are accompanying websites for the various editions, with flashcards, quizzes, suggestions on how to write up concert reviews, etc. Here's one for the 9th edition: http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073526568/student_view0/index.html

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When I asked a well-respected music teacher at a public high school which music theory book she would suggest, she suggested this book. She homeschooled her daughter from 8th - 10th grade, and she thought the book was well done.


I loved the book myself. It all builds on itself. I am now using another Alfred's text for my CC Intro. to Piano class and really enjoying it. The particular name escapes me, but it is apart of a 3-book series I believe. It is very well done.

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If your daughter has no music experience, I wouldn't bog her down with music theory.


The teaching company course is excellent, but it's just the lectures.


If you are looking for something you can easily turn into a full credit "course" for a non-musician, I would recommend the Discovering Music set.




While you don't have to use the text/workbook in order to enjoy her lectures, it does all of the leg-work for you if you want a full "course" in music appreciation. LOTS of material to tailor-make a music appreciation course that matches the student's learning style.


We love Greenberg with the Teaching Company. Love him. But for a music-appreciation course for a non-musician, I would recommend Carol's materials. Her materials make it easy to handle the output-end of the course.




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I agree that a non-musician would be better served by an Appreciation course. I'd stick with that, and if you need/want more hours than provided by the course you choose, then add as much actual listening as you can, ideally with at least several live performances. If you live near a college, there are always lots of opportunities to hear live music -- student recitals are often free. In the spring semester, there are lots of "senior recitals" which should be reasonably good quality, free, and the students would love your attendance. Of course, hearing top tier professional concerts is ideal, but that might get expensive, so maybe listening to recordings of top tier performances would be more practical.


If you feel you must have a theory component, I would choose something simple, short, and basic for theory, and spend the rest of your time on appreciation.


Frankly, as a nonmusician myself, I would find anything involving ear training (hearing intervals, etc) absolutely impossible. I simply can't hear those things. My kids, all musicians, can hear so much, but to me, it is all mute. My ears didn't learn that stuff. Can't learn it now, apparently. LOL. So, I'd DEFINITELY avoid any theory course that will REQUIRE ear training -- although trying it is a great idea. But, if the child must learn to recognize intervals, etc, by ear in order to progress or to do well in the course, it might be an exercise in futility and frustration. . . (And, of course, ear training is imperative for the musician . . . which the vast majority of theory courses will assume the student is . . . and so will incorporate it.)

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My DD has no music experience at all, but need this for HS credit...any suggestions?


You say "music appreciation" and 'theory'...but those are two quite different things...As ITGWN asks - what high school program asks for both. Normally it would be one or the other...


As for which to do....WTM book has a way of doing the "appreciation" part which we have done, though more in-depth...


Theory, or solfege.....Music Ace - I think is a little slow for a high school credit...my kids did it in grade school...The material is not bad, just not adjusted for age....even then, I'm not really sure how much stuck, and we used the equivalent of the Deluxe version...


I don't know the programs others are mentioning so can't give feedback there - we did use other music theory books but I can't say they were outstanding enough to mention, and now dd does solfege in a class...



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