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I'm a married adult with a full-time occupation. A long time ago, I took some lessons for the keyboard but have since forgotten almost everything. Could you please recommend me a few books given the following 2 goals:

  1. A basic understanding of music theory and an ability to play a few basic songs on the keyboard (piano). I still have a basic keyboard at home.
  2. A basic ability to appreciate (classical) music on an intellectual level. This includes a basic ability to verbalize certain musical patterns and effects.

The things I have learned properly in life almost always begin with some reading materials and then practice. Please also advise if this is a proper way to go as far as some basic music understanding is aimed for. Thank you very much.

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    Please give ideas for editing/improving the question instead of downvoting. I've been wanting to ask this question for years. Please be lenient. – yurnero Dec 29 '14 at 16:39
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    AB Guide Music Theory (its pink) – Dave Engineer Jan 2 '15 at 2:08
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ABRSM Music Theory books are very well put together. I prefer the Josephine Koh books above all the others. When you do the music theory you will learn all the ways and manners in which musicians use to portray feelings and emotions.

You can find out more at ABRSM USA, then scroll down to the page for 'Publications'. Alternatively, see this list for all Music Theory publications by ARBSM.

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If you are truly a beginner and a serious student who really enjoys music, I recommend the three-book series of Alfred's Basic Adult Piano Course: All-In-One Piano Course Lesson Theory Solo starting with Level 1. I purchased Level 3 on Amazon.com. who has both new and used books available. Mine is spiral bound. I believe that there is a piano instructor on youtube who teaches levels 1&2, so before you buy go to youtube search for this book level 1 and listen to the videos. They are so helpful, taking a slow tempo approach and give some technique tips, according to your level of pianism that are very well done! When your book arrives you will be excited to see a complete Table of contents, broken down by sections, fun songs just for fun, comprehensive theory workbook pages, Lesson music scores, Scale and Chord Sheets, An Ambitious Section, Dictionary of Musical Terms and Certificate of Award. The songs are varied in genre: Some Folk, Jazz, Rag, Pop, Spiritual, Classical, National, Holiday, Opera and others by over 20 composers. You will discover the joy of music in a stepwise fashion, learn to understand the rules of music theory and music definitions step by step, have solos to perform and enjoy the accomplishment of completing the lessons in Level 1 to receive your Certificate included, so you then will progress to level 2 then 3. I wish they included Level 4 Advanced- well maybe if we email them they will see the need to write levels 4&5- I sure hope so.

Also there is an interesting piano instructor on youtube withe a great sense of humor-PianoTV that I believe you will really enjoy after you complete level 1 or mat be evendors before. She provides interesting and entertaining videos on practically all aspects of learning music History, Appreciation, Theory (her videos show the specifics in everything from beginner tips, tutorials on how and what to practice to reading intervals and specific chord and music patterns and she provides free scores on her website. She did a beautiful "Oh Holy Night" tutorial for Christmas for Level 3 students.

Hope this sounds good to you-Best!

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