Best Music Theory Books For Beginners Thursday September 23 2021, 6:26 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
Best Music Theory Books For Beginners

Music Theory Books For Beginners

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.

Still, the basics of music theory, including writing notes, creating a music staff, counting measures, and singing or playing through scales, are crucial for internalizing what you will learn as you get into more advanced stages of music theory.

Can You Really Learn Music Theory From A Book? 

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.

Still, 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. 

Are Music Theory Books Worth It?

Music theory basics are very much worth learning if you are a singer or a songwriter. Learning more than the basics is very much worth it as well if you are an instrumentalist like a guitar player or a pianist. Suppose you are a producer or a composer.

Learning the basics, as well as advanced music theory, will do you some good if it doesn't make your head explode. I would say that basic music theory is a must if you are a producer or a composer.

The only music theory courses and books that are not worth it are simply the ones that aren't good. Luckily, there aren't many creators out here teaching terrible theory.

Best Music Theory Books For Beginners

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. 

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Theory Time: Medallion Series - Theory Fundamentals Comprehensive

Theory Time: Medallion Series - Theory Fundamentals Comprehensive

  • The Medallion Bronze workbook presents music alphabet, keyboard, staff & grand staff, stem rule, steps & skips on a keyboard & staff, repeated notes, dynamics, drawing the treble & bass clefs, treble clef lines & spaces, bass clef lines & spaces,
  • quarter note & rest, half note & rest, whole note & rest, dotted half note, 8th note, bar lines, double bar line, measures, time signatures, rhythm drill, intervals, half & whole steps, sharps & flats,
  • major scale pattern, major scales of C, F & G, vocabulary, ear training and a review test. Free ear training videos for each ear training exercise are hosted on the Theory Time YouTube channel.
  • This workbook includes 67 pages, 18 Lessons and 6 Fun Sheets. The Medallion Series is an accelerated method appropriate for adults, older beginning students, and college-bound students preparing for AP Examinations in Music Theory.

Here's a music theory book for beginners that includes a workbook for you to start writing music. This one is great for kids and adults looking for an easy way to get into the concepts of music theory.

They even include links to their Youtube channel, where you can visually and audibly process the information in a way that will stick. 

How to Read Music in 30 Days: Music Theory for Beginners

How to Read Music in 30 Days: Music Theory for Beginners - with exercises & online audio (Practical Musical Theory)

  • This book offers a unique 30-day program that makes learning how to read music simple and fun. Imagine how, in just about a month, you’ll be able to look at sheet music and know exactly what every symbol, sign, and term means. You’ll know the fundamental theory behind the how, why, and what of the music that's in front of you!
  • With over 150 music examples, over 100 written exercises, 10 listening experiences, expert tips, lesson summaries, a final test, and online access to the audio examples, you will steadily progress towards learning:
  •  The absolute essentials of music theory, How rhythm REALLY works, The complete system behind musical notes, The crucial details of music notation, How specific musical symbols give life to all written music.

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 have the time to 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. 

Music Theory For Dummies 

Music Theory For Dummies

  • Master major and minor scales, intervals, pitches, and clefs
  • Understand basic notation, time signals, tempo, dynamics, and navigation
  • Employ melodies, chords, progressions, and phrases to form music
  • Compose harmonies and accompanying melodies for voice and instruments
  • Wherever you want to go musically ― as a writer or performer, or just as someone who wants to enjoy music to its fullest ― this approachable guide gives you everything you need to hear!

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 from 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! 

Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course

Alfreds Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians, Book & 2 CDs

  • Book and 2-CD set.
  • 75 exercises, 18 units.
  • Authors: Andrew Surmani, Karen Farnum Surmani, Morton Manus.
  • This practical, easy-to-use self-study course is perfect for pianists, guitarists, instrumentalists, vocalists, songwriters, arrangers, and composers, and it includes ear training CDs to help develop your musical ear.
  • In this all-in-one theory course, you will learn the essentials of music through 75 concise lessons, practice your music reading and writing skills in the exercises, improve your listening skills with the enclosed ear training CDs, and test your knowledge with a review that completes each of the 18 units.

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 focus well on ear training, which is a critical part of music theory that many professional singers still struggle with. I love ear-training exercises, so that fact alone makes this my favorite recommendation on the list. 

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Tips For Learning Music Theory Easily

Practice Active Listening: One of the most effective ways to internalize music theory concepts is through active listening. Train your ears to identify different musical elements such as intervals, chord progressions, and rhythmic patterns.

Actively analyze songs you enjoy and try to identify the theoretical components at play. This hands-on approach will deepen your understanding and make theory more tangible.

Apply Theory to Real-Life Examples: As you grasp the fundamentals of music theory, apply them to real-life musical examples. Take songs you like and analyze their chord progressions, melody structures, and harmonic choices.

By dissecting and understanding the theoretical framework behind existing music, you'll gain practical insights that you can apply to your own compositions and arrangements.

Collaborate and Seek Feedback: Engaging with fellow musicians and seeking feedback on your progress can significantly enhance your understanding of music theory.

Join online communities, participate in forums, or collaborate with other musicians to exchange ideas and learn from one another. Feedback from experienced musicians can provide valuable insights and help you refine your understanding of theory while expanding your musical network.

Remember, learning music theory is an ongoing process, so be patient and enjoy the journey. Embrace experimentation, creativity, and the joy of making music while you deepen your theoretical knowledge.

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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

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