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High school Theory texts

Thank you all for your replies regarding high school theory texts. The text
most often suggested was "Music Theory and Practice" by Bruce Benward.
Check out the McGraw Hill website for more information (you can even order a
examination copy!) at
Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory be accessed at Other suggestions included
incorporating sight-singing, ear-training, and keyboard skills. Another
theme was to make the theory course AP. Thanks again for the feedback.

Excerpts from the replies can be found below.

Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory by Andrew & Karen Surmani and Morton
Manus - This is fairly comprehensive - a 3 book series, or the Complete set
in one spiral bound book. The only problem is it goes through subjects so
quickly that there's often not enough drill to retain the concepts. It does
include ear training (by CD) and has matching software being tested now I

Benner Theory for Piano Students (Schirmer) - This goes into the more
advanced theory and harmony with various chords and chord progressions as
well as some history of composers and forms. It occasionally is vague or
refers to something found in a previous book, but overall is pretty good.

Concepts of Piano Theory (ReSa Publications) by Craig Rees and Vivian Sadler
- This was recommended to me by someone with a PhD in music theory. It
comes in loose leaf form, so pertinent pages could be passed out as needed.
There are 6 levels, or an Older Beginner set that covers a lot of material
more quickly. There is also a Teacher's Key - very valuable!

I would suggest the Programmed Theory Series by Paul Harder. There are 4
books in the set, I believe. I can't recall the publisher. They're written
for college level students, but books 1-2 are certainly worth considering
for high school use.

Have you looked at "Music in Theory and Practice" by Bruce Benward and Gary
White? Straight forward, not too "wordy". There is also a lower lever book
by Gary White entitled "Music Now". Starts from the fundamentals.

if you haven't, check out all the stuff available through the Advanced
Placement program. AP Music Theory has all kinds of suggested texts and
sample syllabi supplied by veteran teachers in their "Teachers' Guide to AP
Theory" or whatever it's called....-- see your AP administrator at your
school. If you don't want the whole AP course, you could adapt something
from their program for your own needs.

In my high school I have successfully used the Alfred series with our Theory
One class. This meets every other day, 80 minutes for the whole year. In
addition to the book, I supplement with much sight singing, keyboard work,
dictation, and music history overview. This is certainly too "easy" as you
say, because it matches the Theory One course for music majors at the local
community college. For the second level I don't use texts at all. I teach
second species counterpoint, keyboard harmony, figured basses, sight singing
and dictation. Every student composes at least four or five pieces
throughout the year and the final exam is a recital of their original
pieces. I don't get beyond secondary dominants, but my kids are very well
rounded and Syracuse University, Ithaca College, Eastman, and SUNY Fredonia
profs comment on how well prepared my students are.

I use the Benward Music in Theory and Practice for my college theory courses
but a number of students entering our program have used this text in high
school. Are you planning on doing any ear training, sight singing or
keyboard skills in this course? If not, I would highly recommend you do.
This is where I believe most 1st year college students are the most

Do you know Music in Theory and Practice by Bruce Benward (Wm C Brown Pub)?
I think it's pretty well known and I think it's suitable for high school

Have you contacted the college board about making your class AP? It's worth
the trouble.

Christopher J. Russell
Director of Choral Activities
Park High School
8040 80th Street South
Cottage Grove, MN 55016
(651) 768-3873
FAX: (651) 768-3705
crussell(a) OR tenorandtuba(a)