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Eric Taylor: Music Theory In Practice - Grade 1

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      30.09.2010 20:46
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      recommended to help learn music theory but not on its own

      I play the piano as one of my hobbies and to get further with my playing my teacher told me I needed to learn music theory. She was going to put me in for an exam later that year and decided I needed something to help me learn and revise on my music theory. She recommended and sold to me this book, which cost me just £2.95, which is nothing compared to how much some piano books can go for these days.

      The book has 32 pages full of music theory activities, 49 exercises in total. They are all designed for grade 1. I was around ten when I first starting using this book and found it extremely helpful and not too difficult to understand back then. Now I am almost seventeen and I still find this book really helpful to look back to and still think it is a great book that I use still to look at and help me understand clearer my music theory which can sometimes be quite difficult to remember in detail.

      I believe that it is this book which really helped me pass my theory exam. It contains pages on:
      * Elementary time values
      * Bar Lines and time signatures
      * Notes on the stave
      * The treble (g) clef
      * The bass (f) clef
      * More on time values
      * Rests
      * Ties
      * Dots
      * Accidentals
      * Semitones and Tones
      * The scales and key signatures of C, G, D and F Major
      * Cancelling an accidental
      * Degrees of the scale and intervals
      * The tonic triad
      * Composing an answering rhythm
      * Performance directions
      * General exercises

      I find the section 'perfomance directions' the most useful of them all. It provides a glossary of all the Italian words that are difficult to understand if you are just starting piano, for example, forte which means loud. I always look back to this glossary to help me remember what all the many different and often confusing terms mean.

      If you are teaching yourself the music theory then I would advise you to not just buy this book but to buy something else as well, probably a teacher would be best, because it contains many useful activities but doesn't always tell you how to solve the activities if you get me. My teacher always would explain to me what to do first and then she would mark it afterwards and tell me how to correct any mistakes. It cannot just be used on its own to help you learn music theory.

      I used this for piano but it says on the front ' Royal Schools of Music ' so I think it can be used for all musical instruments.
      It is currently only 97p on amazon which is a really good bargain. Definitely recommend this.

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        17.05.2009 18:36
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        The basic way to start music theory, but dfinately a reccommendation!

        Music theory is a subject which as much as I knew I should learn to proceed further within the music industry, I just couldnt push myself to learn.

        Hoping to be a music producer and engineer, I knew it was something that I should learn, especially while I was at college. After doing research and found that to take tests you can go through the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM for short), I searched for any books suitable.

        I wanted to take the learning bit by bit, and once I found you can get a book for each seperate grade, I found this to be the best way to advance.

        I purchased the Grade 1 through to 3 books to get me going, along with Eric Taylors AB Guide to Music Theory book. I would read the AB Guide learning the in depth details of music theory slowly, and I would infact learn a lot, but I couldnt put it to practice with just that book. This is where the graded books come in very handy.

        Once learning and revising from the AB Guide, I would sit down with the graded books, and go through the exercises one by one. The layout is very similar to an exam itself, and even reccommends what pages to look through in the AB Guide for any help you may need. With examples of exercises and even exercises to do yourself, i found myself easily picking up the theory, compared to if I was just reading a book. The graded books have very good information in them which give you tips for the exams, as like I've mentioned the layout is very similar.

        These are a great buy for anyone looking to learn their music theory, however I would reccommend also purchasing the AB Guide to Music Theory by same author Eric Taylor.

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        23.02.2009 22:47
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        A great book to guide you on your music theory quest

        I am taking my ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music)Grade 1 theory paper next week. I'm 43. The same day, my two youngest daughters are doing their Grade 5. They are 14 and 12 and I'm feeling dim!

        In line with ABRSM policy, they need their Grade 5 theory before they are allowed to be entered into their Grade 6 practical on their instrument of choice. In their case, 'cello and violin, respectively.

        I just need my grade 1 to give me the confidence in ploughing ahead towards grade 3, then 5 (no point sitting them all is there - that would be masochistic, surely?) so that I too can go on to my Grade 6 and beyond with piano. You see, one day, when I grow up, I'd like to be a piano teacher. I've been playing (often self-taught and badly) for 22 years but have only just started my exams.

        This book gives the theory student all the background and practical exercises necessary to be able to take their Grade 1 theory exam. When you are playing at Grade 1 level the content may be a little difficult at first, but as you work through your practical pieces, scales and arpeggios, the theory side quickly falls into place.

        If you are beyond Grade 1 level in your playing, then the content is assimilated much quicker and things just generally make more sense.

        I'm taking Grade 4 practical next month and, although I love to play piano, I have developed a strange obsession with theory work. There's something weirdly mathematical about it that makes it compelling learning. I find myself doing past theory papers, with Eric Taylor guiding me all the way, whilst waiting for the kids at various venues after school. I am so into his book that I can't wait to copy another 4 bars of music out "as written on the stave above". I think it hits right to the heart of the perfectionist in me.

        The book itself is wonderful; gloriously shiny, with a satisfyingly thick cover. The pages are mostly black and white, dotted with the occasional red text for links to the AB Guide to Music Theory and blue bold text for keywords which are accompanied by a definition.

        Grade 1 theory consists of:

        Time Values
        Bar lines and time signatures
        Notes on the stave
        The treble(G) clef
        The bass (F) clef
        More on time values
        Rests
        Ties
        Dots
        Accidentals
        Semitones and tones
        The scales and key signatures of C,G, D and F major
        Cancelling an accidental
        Degrees of scale and intervals
        The tonic triad
        Composing an answering rhythm
        Performance directions
        General exercises

        If it all sounds like a foreign language, it is. But a completely absorbing one when you get into it.

        All of the above cover the five areas of the ABRSM Syllabus for Grade 1 and these are all explained in detail on the inside cover of the book, so you could highlight them off as you master each concept. A built in sense of achievement!

        On the back cover of the book there is a pictoral guide to the range of materials that can support you as you move through the grades on your music theory quest. Obviously, none of these books are any replacement for expert tuition by a fully qualified music teacher who has to personally enter you into the exam, either online or through a designated registered music school or academy. In my case this is the local privately owned performing arts school. The exam itself will take place at a local High School central to most people in town, or at the college in the centre of town depending on the number of candidates.

        The exam itself involves GCSE style routines and you have one and a half hours to answer the 8 questions that are taken from the 5 major areas on the syllabus. If you have worked your way studiously through Eric Taylor's book, used supplementary learning material, done past papers and had expert tuition you should easily get the 66 marks required to pass. 80-89 pass with a merit and 90-100 marks earn a distinction.

        If you or your child are about to embark on a fantastic musical journey, don't go without Eric Taylor's Music Practice in Theory. It is definitely an essential text and one you'll be able to look back through with fond memories, especially when you have your certificate hanging on the wall.



        Price £3.25
        Check out www.musicroom.com for alternatives, this isn't the only book on the market.

        Here's a postscript to the original review: I managed a Distinction in My Grade 1 92 out of a hundred no less. I'm over the moon with that - deserves a bar of chocolate to celebrate!

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          26.07.2008 09:59
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          Grade 1 Music theory.

          Music theory in Practice:
          Grade 1.

          ~~~Background~~~
          This book meets the requirements of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) Grade 1 theory exam.

          Now I am not gonna pretend otherwise, I find music theory dull, boring, and very difficult to understand, I just like to read the music and play. That being said, as the understanding of the theory becomes clearer, it does not always seem quite so dull (who am I kidding?).

          To a certain extent you need not know any theory to begin playing, some musicians have never studied theory.

          However, to get past a certain point you really must have some theoretical knowledge. I believe this as I know I am trying to do more, yet do not always know how. The ABRSM certainly believe this and as a result, one cannot progress past Grade 5 (on your instruments of choice) without first taking Grade 1 theory. Once you have passed Grade one theory you can happily move on to Grade 6 (instrument).

          ~~~The book~~~
          There are 32 pages arranged into sections. Each section has a clear explanation of what is covered in the section then several exercises to do, such as; filling in the missing note, name the key signature, and so on.

          ~~~So, what is music theory~~~
          Music theory is the 'rules' of music; what things mean, how to do certain things, the order of how things run. It is basically an understanding of how it is all put together so that when the player wants or needs to do something s/he understands why they are doing it. Reading music is not too difficult, feeling it, understanding it, making sense of the written instructions and numerous markings is quite complex.

          The sections in this book give you a pretty good idea of the basics, and they apply to all instruments:

          1. Elementary time values:
          This is a chapter on the common notes you will see in any music; Semi Breve (whole note or 4 'beats'), Minim, two 'beats', Crotchet one 'beat and Quaver, half a 'beat'.

          2. Bar lines and time signatures:
          This is the start of understanding what makes a sheet of music look like it does and what timings such as 4:4 or 3:4 actually mean, essentially the foundations.

          3. Notes on a stave:
          The stave is the sheet music 'lines', notes go on or between the lines that you see there are five lines and dependent on whether one is working with Bass or Treble Clef (it does explain this) the notes go on or between lines, but conveniently for us: A, B, C, D, E, F, G. These are the 7 basic notes. Then of course they can be octaves higher or lower, or have sharp or flat signatures.

          4. The Treble Clef:
          The top half of the register, or every note above middle C (to the right) on a piano.

          5. The Bass Clef:
          The bottom half of the register or every note below (to the left on a piano).

          6. More on Time Values.

          7. Rests:
          Music consists of playing notes and 'gaps' or rests between the notes, good exercises here.

          8. Ties:
          How notes (of the same sound) join together.

          9. Dots:
          How a half again of a note is represented by adding a dot.

          10. Accidentals:
          Notes that are outside of the key signature, or that follow a disruption to the key signature.

          11. Semitones and tones:
          This relates to the way the keys of a piano are set out and what notes or keys make up a tone and semi tone (important when learning key signatures).

          12. The scales and key signatures of C, G, D and F major:
          These are the most common key signatures that music is written in. We learn that each major key apart from C Major has a sharp or number of sharps, then we look at the first key signature with a 'flat'. This is really important so if someone was asked to play a piece in a certain key signature, say G Sharp, they would know that every F was played as F Sharp or F#.

          13. Cancelling an accidental:
          See 10.

          14. Degrees of the scale and intervals:
          A, B, C, D, E, F, G all represent a note, there are 7, which mean we go up (or down) a scale in 7ths, the next one, and 8th, would be the same key as we started on, but an octave higher (or lower), we also learn here about the intervals or 'gaps' between played notes.

          15. The tonic triad:
          Won't bore you too much here, it is basically another word for a chord, the first note on a scale starting with the key signature note, then third, then fifth. Tonic triad for C major for instance is C (first) E (third) and G (fifth).

          16. Composing an answering rhythm.
          How you follow a beat basically.

          17. Performance directions.
          This is a page and a half of instructions that one might see such as 'allegro' which means fast, though not if you ever owned an Austin Allegro.

          18. General exercises.
          Basically a recap page.

          ~~~~~Final Thoughts~~~~~
          Using this book got me through the Grade 1 theory with my tutor (I won't take formal exams) and enabled her to assess me on my progress, thus now working with past Grade 5 pieces.

          Using this book also helped me to start to understand some of the complexities that I need to progress with my favoured style of playing which is too improvise around a melody. What I mean by this is if I were playing a tune in say G Major, I would know that when I improvise, any note on the scale, as long as I use F# instead of F natural, will play okay and 'fit' the Key signature.

          The exercises are good, but quite tough sometimes, but actually writing in the book helps the memory process, as the act of writing down has been shown to help things 'stick' in the brain.

          How I used this was to basically complete a few exercises each week then take them to my music teacher for marking.

          You will not be able to go past Grade 5 on your instrument without passing Grade 1 theory, so it is a worthwhile investment at about £3-5.

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