Music Theory Secrets: 94 Strategies for the Starting Musician

By Toney, Donna | American Music Teacher, April-May 2015 | Go to article overview

Music Theory Secrets: 94 Strategies for the Starting Musician


Toney, Donna, American Music Teacher


* Music Theory Secrets: 94 Strategies for the Starting Musician, by Brent Coppenbarger. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2014. www.rowman.com; 135 pp., $35.00.

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Brent Coppenbarger has written a concise and valuable reference aid for musicians of any type. The title "musician" encompasses a huge range of instrumentations, genres, styles and ability levels. Many vocalists and choral directors find themselves in the position of arranging instrumentation for their programs; pianists are challenged to read lead sheets, improvise and comprehend concert pitch in accompanying instrumentalists. Band directors often work with string players and vice versa. This book provides clear "secrets" in theory concepts and answers for musicians working outside their comfort zone.

Coppenbarger begins with basic concepts for beginning musicians; it would be very beneficial for high school students considering a music major or amateur musicians striving to read and comprehend the language of music. As the book progresses, the concepts become more complex and relevant for all musicians.

The book is divided into 13 chapters, and each chapter is subdivided into short "secrets" or explanations of particular concepts. For example, the first chapter, "Pitch and Rhythm Basics," presents 14 concepts including pitch, clefs (including alto and tenor), grand staff, rhythm and meter. Examples with each topic are clear, and the chapter concludes with more than 50 meter practices. …

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