At the Fun Music Company we need to say a big THANKYOU to everyone who has responded to our requests for feedback over the last month.
We started with last months Ezine, where we gave an opportunity for anyone who is on our mailing list to give us feedback about what we are doing, and how else we can help music teachers.
We then asked customers who have purchased either the “Printable Music Theory Books” or the “Printable Music Lesson Plans” for their specific feedback regarding these products.
We are very gratified at the response which on the whole has been incredibly positive about what we are doing.
With the Printable Music Theory Books we particularly needed to know about how these books are used, and how we should structure their content for levels three & four, which are currently being written.
We first intended these books to follow the grade structure of ABRSM, Trinity College and other examination boards, so that they could be used to prepare students for these examinations, but would work regardless of whether students were doing examinations.
What we’ve discovered through our surveys is that very few of the users of the product actually use them to prepare for exams! The books are mainly used as an overview of music theory, to help students “fill in the gaps” and learn everything they need to learn in music theory concepts.
One of the critical decisions for level three is… should we stick with a truly “classical” approach: teaching four part harmony, cadences and harmonization in strictly a “classical” manner?
Or… should we embrace a more modern “chord symbol” type approach, branching into Jazz harmonic concepts, such as chord symbols, seventh chords and progressions?
You will find proponents of both around, and it seems that every theory book you pick up has a different approach. Some talk about four part harmony in exactly the same way it was taught 50-100 years ago. Some Jazz theory books are so complex that even highly qualified musicians pick them up and are bamboozled by the language used.
What we found from the survey was most teachers try and teach a little of both! Mostly teachers still want to teach traditional music theory concepts, but they need a modern chord symbol approach as well.
So that’s what we’ll be doing with the next theory books:
We want to bring Classical and Modern Music Theory together in the one course!
For example, our theory books are the only ones I know of that are available in two versions; with both American and European terminology.
American books will have “quarter note”, “sixteenth note” etc and British ones will have “crotchet”, “quaver” and perhaps only mention in passing that there is another whole system of nomenclature. Our books allow the teacher to choose their language version before they print it, so it matches the terminology that they are comfortable with.
Embracing this concept a step further, what we’ll be doing with Theory Level Three and Four is including sections on BOTH traditional harmony (harmonizing in four part vocal style, learning about cadences etc), AND modern/jazz harmony (learning about chord symbols and progressions.)
With our theory books, the teacher will have the option of teaching either the classical four part harmony section, the jazz harmonization section or BOTH should they desire! Because the book is printable all the teacher needs to do is omit those pages they don’t need.
The one thing that we don’t want is to go down a road that says “this is the way it should be” – we believe that music is a universal language, and we don’t “teach” music with our books….. that is the teachers job, and ultimately it is the teachers choice in what materials they choose.
As always we welcome your feedback at any time – whether we have a survey on or not. If you haven’t tried Printable Music Theory Books yet – make sure you do and let us know what you think!