Do you have a theory book series you use and love? If so that’s awesome!
I however have never found a theory book I liked..not even close. I’ve used the theory books by our local Irish exam board, and other exam boards, and independent ones. And I’m sorry to say I pretty much hated all of them.
That sounds super harsh and I don’t mean it as a criticism of the publishers at all. All of those books no doubt work for many, many teachers and their style of teaching. But I always find something that just doesn’t gel with me. For example:
- Slightly pixelated or blurry print quality
- Over-crowded pages
- Overly wordy explanations of concepts
- Patronising explanations of concepts
- Word searches (those just feel like busywork to me)
- Too much reinforcement
- Not enough reinforcement
I could go on but I think you get the idea. None of these books fit.
Now I haven’t tried everything by any means. But I have tried most that are readily available in Ireland or the U.K. and they all have most of the above issues in my opinion. I know many teachers love Theory Time for example, but shipping costs would be crazy and there isn’t a digital license option so that’s out for me.
If you do have a theory series that you are completely happy with, you might want to stop reading this one here. I don’t want to waste your time if you’re totally satisfied in this area.
If you’re in the same boat as I was however, keep reading!
Walking the Walk
Last year, I had a student who needed to cover the material for Grade 1, 2, 3 & 4 in one year in order to sit the Grade 4 exam in May. She had about 9 months to cover everything.
One week of using one of the standard exam board books and all of the above issues got to me. I made a decision to finally fix the situation and started creating my own workbook.
All through the year I kept up with her progress. I stayed one step ahead of where she was and used that as my motivation to get these books finished.
As I corrected them I was also able to get feedback from her and improve each page. The result was a set of truly student centred workbooks that got great results in a short amount of time. In fact when she finished those and had to go back to one of the exam board books she let out a massive groan. Proof I had done something right!
I have since used these workbooks with several other students with equal success. And lack of moaning (even actual enjoyment!) from the students.
I finally have theory workbooks that I actually love, and I’ll be sharing them with you too very soon!
In August I’ll be releasing the first four levels of ‘Thinking Theory’ in my online store.
Again if you have theory books that you already love, keep at it! But if you are interested, here’s what’s unique about my books.
What’s the Difference?
There are a few key things that make the Thinking Theory series different. Here’s the highlights:
- Layouts are clean and consistent with no over-crowding.
- No topic is introduced without being revisited several times later in the book.
- Thinking Theory is designed so you can start anywhere in the series. Concepts are not left out of later books, just covered more quickly.
- There are flashcards to match each chapter.
- These flashcards can be used in the suggested games to provide a fun way to learn away from the page.
- Sight singing exercises using solfa are included throughout to improve the ear as well as the eyes.
- The short tests at the end of each chapter and book, allow you to evaluate student learning and plan their next step.
- Each core book moves relatively quickly. If a student needs extra review at the end of the level there are extra “Plus” books which provide this review for the students that need it – without cluttering the core books for the students that don’t.
- Matching answer books allow you to quickly scan and correct homework. This is great when you’re trying to correct homework in a lesson while also paying attention to your student’s playing.
There are other smaller differences, but these are the key components that motivated me to write this these theory supplements in the first place. Those elements are the reason my students have been so successful with the books and enjoyed them more than other books we’ve tried.
But wait! I want to know what you think!
These books have been created by an actual teacher in the trenches (me!) and used with actual real piano students. If there’s something you (another actual teacher with actual real students) wish you could find in a theory book, I’d love to hear about it!
I want to solve your theory book woes too!
Just fill in the three questions below and have your say as I finalise this new theory series.