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Theory book - all in one or separate grades?

Theory Violin Adult learner

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Poll: Separate or all in one theory books (12 member(s) have cast votes)

Would you prefer one book or separate books covering grades one to five?

  1. I would prefer one book to cover grades one through to five. (5 votes [41.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 41.67%

  2. I would prefer separate booklets for each grade. (7 votes [58.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 58.33%

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#1 BadStrad

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 11:59

I was wondering which would be preferred - Five theory notes/workbooks, one each for separate grades, or an all in one book from grades one to five?

I am particularly interested in the views of adult (violin) learners (that being my thing) but welcome any input.

Thank you.
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#2 JudithJ

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 14:32

I did my grade 5 theory as an adult, though not in violin. I didn't sit grades 1 to 4, but still used the books in sequence to ensure that I didn't miss anything.

I knew most of the theory through my piano lessons and choir rehearsals, so my study was to consolidate and learn things not related to my instruments. I started by studying the pink book, and then worked through the individual grades and had my teacher mark exam papers at each grade before I moved on. Even grade one was useful, because it taught me things consciously that I had learned subconsciously. It made me more confident in the exam.
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#3 BadStrad

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 15:02

Thanks, Judith. I think you have a good point about how studying the lower grades consolidate knowledge that may have been picked up in a piecemeal or subconscious manner.
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#4 MartianVision

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 19:35

While I would prefer one book to cover all 5 grades (which is what I did vote for), I'd want it to be in a similar style of harmony in practice book. With lots of exercises/questions, perhaps with a couple more examples than harmony in practice. Much like most school textbooks are now, (or at least the good ones).

 

So basically just combining the music theory in practice books, and adding a couple more exercises/questions, is ideal, as long as content wouldn't get removed.


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#5 BadStrad

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Posted 10 March 2016 - 21:04

Thanks Martin. That was my thinking too. Lots of the books don't have enough examples, or you have to pay for the answer book separately.
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#6 linda.ff

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Posted 11 March 2016 - 15:18

I use the books for Trinity theory as I like them, but when I do ABRSM I don't use books at all.

 

Whatever level they're at, I reckon they know most of it through playing, even if it isn't rationalised. Most  of the time when I do it it's grade 5, and this is what I do.

 

I start with the book of papers. In each lesson I do a question on the first paper. We discuss it, investigate anything they didn't know before, and I write in the answers. When the first paper is finished, we start the second one, only this time, after discussion, the student writes in the answers. For the third paper, we discuss the question, and the paper goes home with the student and comes back with the question worked (or it will be done in the lesson along with the next question!) When we get to the fourth paper they should be able to do the whole paper at home.

 

That way we progress in all sections of the theory syllabus at the same time.


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#7 SingingPython

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 06:39

The workbooks I used for learning theory (not UK syllabus), while each chapter was on a particular topic, had a few questions at the end of each chapter that revised work already covered.  So you worked through the book and didn't get to the end having forgotten the topics from the start.

 

I'm not voting because I think the grade-at-a-time or do it in 1 book, will depend a lot on the starting point for the student concerned.


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#8 BadStrad

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 11:32

@Python - maybe then single grade books might be better, as a student could pick up at grade three say?
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#9 MartianVision

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 13:19

@Python - maybe then single grade books might be better, as a student could pick up at grade three say?

I guess it could depend on how the chapters were organised:

Option 1 - have it organised by grading. This seems a little pointless to me, as it would be just like going through each individual grade book.

 

Option 2, organise it by topic:

Chapter 1 - Time signatures 

Section 1.1 - Time signatures of 2/4 3/4 and 3/4 and bar lines

Section 1.2 - Time signatures of 2/2 3/2 4/2 and 3/8

 

(section 1.1 is grade 1, 1.2 is grade 2).

 

They are the most logical options I can think of, however, even the organisation of the chapters would be definitely important, otherwise you'd be covering advanced information far too early, and a grade 1 or 2 theory student may feel overwhelmed doing grade 5 theory concepts in the first chapter.

 

Saying that though, I believe if a book was aimed at a 'fast-track' to grade 5, for say, students who are hoping to do their grade 8, but need grade 5 theory, then it would definitely be a lot easier, as things like ledger lines, time signatures, ornaments, key signatures etc should already be known. In this case it could go through the easier points in a very brief to-the-point way, like the AB Guide to Music Theory does.


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#10 BadStrad

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 13:51

HI Martian Vision.  Thanks for the input.

 

The AB pink book (or at least the version I have of it) is organised by topic, as I'm sure you know.  I have read quite a few criticisms of it because it doesn't break down the information in to grades.  It's kind of "here's everything you need to know for our theory exams up to and including grade five," which as you say, can be overwhelming.  Of course it may be fine for students who are just taking grade five so they can progress to the higher practical grades. So I think including some kind of indication of exam structure - the way you suggest would be a positive move.

 

Perhaps the answer is to offer both formats.  After all once the writing is done it's then just a matter of editing it into chapters/separate booklets.


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#11 MartianVision

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 15:47

It does depend on who it's aimed at I guess. For example:

 

The AB pink book would be an extremely poor book to learn from, but to just brush up and refresh your knowledge, it's perfect.

 

A student hoping to take grade 8 exam, would need a combination of AB book and Music theory in practice books, as some concepts are already known.

 

Someone who isn't as proficient in playing an instrument, but still wishes to do the theory, would need a lot of detailed information and exercises on every topic. Furthermore, If they were to skip to grade 5 theory, it would be organised differently than if they wish to do every grade of theory. 

 

Personally I think a book that is aimed at going straight for grade 5 theory, without proficiency in an instrument would be the best bet, since with a differing structure of chapters and topics (such as one I mentioned in a previous post), you'd be able to get to grade 5 theory quicker, especially with revision questions, as with the example singingpython gave. 

 

While I do believe there's a market/niché for such a book, I think it'd be possibly a little pointless, since there are already a fair few resources out there, and lack of resources isn't a limiting factor in getting to grade 5 theory. 

 

Still, only buying 1 book would save money :)


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#12 jpiano

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Posted 12 March 2016 - 22:59

I haven't taught grade 5 theory for quite a while now, but the grade 5's I've taught in the past I've tended to go straight into the grade 5 workbook (the Music Theory in Practice ones until I discovered the Ying Ying Ng version which I prefer), explaining each concept and then doing the exercises. I'm interested in Linda's idea as well about going straight in with past papers- but I think my future preference would be workbook but linking to the papers straight away as we cover each section.

 

Has anyone looked at the Paul Harris Improve Your Theory books? I haven't had a look at them yet, but I'm thinking they might replace Ng for me in the future.

 

 


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#13 sbhoa

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Posted 13 March 2016 - 11:00

I'd usually use the workbook and then past papers for each grade.

I currently have an adult student preparing for grade 5 and we started with grade 1 past papers as he already had some theory knowledge. The past papers have been enough for me to see where the gaps are and we are working on those as they come up.


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#14 BadStrad

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 17:56

I think the combination of theory and exercises to apply that theory is the essential combo. One thing that has irritated me is that often you have to buy another book to get the answers.
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#15 Aquarelle

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 10:37

Whatever the format I think it's important to include a separate answer book.


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