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High School Music Theory

Hello....next year, along with my choirs, I am going to be offering Music Theory for HS students.  I have not taught this in awhile.  I would like to take a course preparing me to do a better job at this.   Or do something at home on my own to prepare me.  Can anyone suggest a summer program ?   Can anyone suggest texts or software they use?  This would start with the most basic and progress throughout the year.  This would NOT be AP Theory.  Thanks.
on April 18, 2011 5:34am
I know you said this you are not teaching an AP Music Theory course, but I learned a lot about *how* to teach music theory from taking an AP Music Theory prep course for teachers taught by Joel Phillips at Westminster Choir College.  I think he teaches the course there every summer.  I use "The Musician's Guide to Theory and Analysis" by Clennding and West.  I really like their approach.  Plus the series includes a textbook, aural skills books, workbook, anthology and CD recordings of many of the excerpts in the book and anthology...it's a one-stop-shop series, which makes life much easier for those of us who are busy teaching lots of different courses!
 
Mike
on April 18, 2011 5:53am
When I was in high school, my choral teacher taught music theory using the "Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music" by Paul O. Harder. It's a 2-part series that takes you from a very basic understanding of music in Part I, to advanced counterpoint in Part II. It must have worked because I ended up skipping the entire freshman year of music theory in college through an advanced placement test, the first and only one to do so at that time. When I taught high school band following graduation, I too used the books to teach theory to a class of about eight eager students, half of which went on to become music teachers as well. In 1985 when I taught from it, it was in the fourth edition. I am sure you would have no trouble finding it. Publisher is Allyn and Bacon, Inc.
 
Good luck!!
Tim
on April 18, 2011 8:22am
Alfred's Essentials of music theory is a good comprehensive program. Goes from lines and spaces to modes, inversions...I use it with my high schoolers.
 
Andrea
on April 18, 2011 5:52pm
Masterworks Press has a two volume theory program called "Music Theory for Choirs."  I've had great success with it and recommend it highly. 
 
Kelly
on April 18, 2011 6:43pm
Wow everyone.....thanks SO much for all your referrals and advice.   Any others willing to weigh in about this?   I am going to keep a list.  Again, thanks!
 
on April 19, 2011 7:46am
Kathy,
 
Our high school uses Tonal Harmony, which is a book used by colleges all over. We divide it up into a beginner class and an AP class, using the same text, but moving slower the first year, then picking up some speed in the AP class. Still probably don't get thru the entire book, but most of it. If they do well with the AP class, they should have no problem getting thru college theory. Or perhaps even testing out of it altogether. Hope this helps. Good luck.
 
Geneva
WI, USA
on April 19, 2011 9:20pm
Kathy et al.  I don't have any specific recommendations, but I though a personal anecdote might be of some interest.
 
Some years ago (pretty close to 30, now that I think of it!), I came across an article in one of the Teachers' Magazines titled "Stop Teaching College Theory in High Schools."  It was written by (of course!) a college theory teacher who was ticked off because some of his students had already taken beginning or AP theory classes in high school, so it messed up his nice comfortable teaching plan.
 
I countered it with a reply that I titled "Stop Teaching High School Theory in College."  My premise was that in a decent music program in the schools, music students ought to have learned ALL the basics of music theory before they got to college, and should be ready for more advanced ear training and analysis.  That's what the system Kodaly set up in Hungary did, and the result was that Hungarian 6th graders were better at theory than the average college sophomore in the U.S.!!  College is really too LATE to start learning theory.
 
My mom was a very good and very demanding theory teacher, and I should have been allowed to test out of 1st year theory in college, but I wasn't, so I read science fiction in the theory classes.  (Our teacher was a brand new Ph.D from Eastman, and was much enamored of the McHose approach to theory.)  And much to my surprise , 20 years later I tested out of the grad school remedial theory classes even though I hadn't studied theory for 20 years.  (I had, of course, been USING it as an arranger throughout those 20 years!)
 
In fact, when my mom took the theory placement exam at Columbia TC she tested out of the entire sequence, but they asked her to take the last semester course so she would know their terminology.  But when she taught a summer school class in theory for high school students, she started right at the beinning, with naming the lines and speces in treble and bass clef.
 
All the best,
John
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