The best place to start with music theory is the very beginning. You might think it's too elementary to study the type of stuff music teachers would be helping kids with in grade school, but the basics of music theory including writing notes, creating a music staff, counting measures, and singing or playing through scales is very crucial for internalizing what you will learn as you get into more advanced stages of music theory.
Unlike singing, the theory of music can be effectively taught with a book. It's always helpful to have a professional that can give you a unique approach to learning theory and answer your specific questions, but the basics of music theory are pretty easy to learn with a book alone.
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Many music theory books also come with a CD or video series that can be a tremendous help with an audio and visual aid for your learning process. This is music that we're studying at the end of the day, so any course book that includes audio or visual learning elements can be a great way to digest the knowledge much more successfully.
Here are some recommendations that I have for affordable music theory books to get you started as a beginner. Again, the best way to learn music is with a teacher that can interact with you, but books in addition to a teacher or even watching professionals on Youtube will help you learn the basics so long that you apply yourself.
Do note that watching Youtube or listening to audiobooks without actively putting it to practice yourself with writing, playing, or singing as you learn will not be that effective. The good thing about books is that most of them have workbooks as well that allow you to interact with the learning process.
Here's a music theory book for beginners that also includes a workbook for you to start writing music in. This one is great for kids and adults that are looking for an easy way to get into the concepts of music theory, and they even include links to their Youtube channel where you can visually and audibly process the information in a way that it will stick.
Here's another music theory book that's great for beginners and includes links to audio samples that can help you along the process. If you're looking to rush the process of learning music and you have the time to really put in daily studying and practice sessions, I'd say this is a great one to go for. If you're short on time and even shorter with your attention span, don't really expect the title to come true, but the content in this book can be digested well in any time frame.
You might be tempted to turn your nose up at the "For Dummies" series, but the truth is, they still sell really well because they usually have consistently great content. It's no different for their introductory music theory book, which also includes audio aid online like the previous books I recommended. It's also the most affordable book on my list if you're looking for the cheapest option that is still quality!
If you're looking for a longer-term course that can help you go through beginner and intermediate levels of music theory knowledge, this would be a good choice to go with. This book comes with two CDs that really focus well on ear training, which is a critical part of music theory that many professional singers still struggle with even now. I love ear training exercises, so that fact alone makes this my favorite recommendation on the list.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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