Teaching Music Theory & Composition

My son has been interested in music for a long time. When he was four years old he exclaimed, “I want to be like Bach!” At the time, I thought it may be a passing phase. Little did I know how much music would be a part of our lifestyle.

We’ve always tried to cultivate their passions. It has now been nearly 7 years and my kids have taken music lessons every week (my son piano and my daughter violin). My son’s passion for piano has never wavered. In fact, this past year he begged to increase his lesson time from 30 minutes to an hour. My daughter expressed interest in auditioning for youth symphony earlier this year.

musictheoryMusic Theory

It has been fascinating to watch my children progress in their music education. Each approaches their lessons in dramatically different ways, staying true to their unique personalities.  We are fortunate to have a music teacher who is adept at teaching each of the kids according to their unique styles.

Even so, I have known for sometime that we needed something more, particularly for my son. We needed an instructional guide to music theory that was not overwhelming (he is only 10 after all) and not too “babyish” as my son would say. When I found The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music Theory from DK Publishing, I knew this was exactly what we needed – not only for my son but for myself as well.  {Many thanks to DK Publishing for providing the book to us for review. Please see my full Disclosure Policy for more details.}

This book breaks down a difficult subject in a simple way – with clear, concise language, it explains everything from bass clef basics to circle of fifths. I feel that this is a solid guide for children interested in music composition as well as people either new to music or who are returning to playing an instrument, like me.

Contents at a Glance:

  • Tones
  • Rhythms
  • Tunes
  • Accompanying
  • Embellishing
  • Arranging

musiccompositionMusic Composition

As a result of my daughter’s interest in symphony, we have begun to attend regular performances both locally and regionally. A few weeks ago, we stumbled upon a DVD at our local library, Copying Beethoven and I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to our recent experiences.

My daughter didn’t care too much for the movie but my son watched from start to finish. I should not have been surprised to observe him a few days later listening to a performance on YouTube of Beethoven’s Symphony No.5. He had the iPad propped up on his piano with the sheet music laid out on top. With a pencil in his right hand, he proceeded to conduct the musicians through the piece. He was as intense as the conductors we’ve observed perform.

He then shared with me the symphony that he is writing. Though his work is rudimentary, I was amazed to see that he had correctly transcribed the notes he played.

We have just begun to work through the chapters in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music TheoryAlready, I can see an improvement in his performance as well as his music composition. I look forward to the doors his experiences will open.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

2 comments on “Teaching Music Theory & Composition

  1. Eva,

    I liked your post. I have a resource that I think would be helpful for your kids. My site is called http://www.artofcomposing.com/ and has a ton of great resources for learning composition. I teach classical composition, in the style of Beethoven and Mozart (as well as some others, like Chopin, and Mahler. You should have your son listen to Mahler’s 1st Symphony. The first time I heard it, I was hooked.)

    I have a free beginner’s course, which takes you through composing a piece in small ternary form from start to finish, so I think he’ll like it. You can sign up for the free course here http://www.artofcomposing.com/free

    There is also a paid academy, which goes far more in depth, but it could help give him a huge advantage if he ever wanted to pursue composition seriously or as a career. You can find out more about the paid academy here. http://www.artofcomposing.com/join-the-academy

    I applaud you for having your children learn theory as well as performance. Most never get serious theory training, and it shows when they go to music school or pursue music as a career.

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