i am teaching myself music theory to help get ahead in the AP class im taking next year. what order should i go about learning each concept? i am already familiar with what you would know after 7 years of violin and piano playing

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  • Not adding as an answer as I don't know how on-topic this comment would be as an answer... but I'd always recommend going through the formal exam books for structured learning like this. ABRSM grade 3 or 5 should be a good starting point for someone who's been playing for as long as you have. – James Whiteley Mar 18 at 16:01
  • "already familiar with what you would know after 7 years of violin and piano playing" ...that really doesn't explain. What theory texts are you familiar with? – Michael Curtis Mar 18 at 19:44

The usual order, which you can find by perusing the table of contents in music theory textbooks or on musictheory.net, is something like this:

  • Notation
  • Rhythm and Meter
  • Keys, Scales, Modes
  • Intervals
  • Chords
  • Chord Progressions
  • intervals maybe will be before key and scales - I suppose it depends on the text. I think it's easier to talk about scales and chords after an introduction to intervals and basic consonance/dissonance. – Michael Curtis Mar 18 at 19:40
  • @MichaelCurtis Certainly you need to know what a half-step, whole-step, and octave are before you tackle scales, but there is probably no need to introduce a minor third or perfect fifth before you know the notes that make up the scales. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Mar 18 at 19:45
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    As a side note, there is currently a musictheory.net community add pending on our meta. If we want promote musictheory.net as a community resource make sure to vote for it music.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3146/…. – Dom Mar 18 at 20:15
  • Yeah, that kind of sequencing makes sense, and a good text should do that. Another intro topic would be enharmonic spellings - just the concept. My kids got that in their first year of band. They have not learned signficant scale or chord theory yet. – Michael Curtis Mar 18 at 20:22

In my opinion the best that you can do after seven years playing violin and piano is to try to analyze the music-pieces you have played until now (harmonically, formally) and to transpose them in all keys.

By this approach you’re starting with your repertoire and you will discover what’s lacking and assimilate new knowledge in all directions.


Main points are: circle of fifths and functional harmony.

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