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Best book for AP Music Theory

alohagailalohagail Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
edited September 2009 in Music Major
My son wants to take the AP Music Theory test this year and we have been researching study guides. The fact is that there is none in the typical Barrons category. So we are wondering if anyone can recommend a good book to assist him in his studying, preferable one with an audio CD so he can learn harmonic/melodic dictation. Any ideas?
Post edited by alohagail on

Replies to: Best book for AP Music Theory

  • CLRN8MOMCLRN8MOM Registered User Posts: 352 Member
    D took an AP Theory class in the spring. They used a book called "Techniques and Materials of Music" , 7th edition, by Thomas Benjamin. It comes with an "e-workbook" that you access on-line (after you buy the book). I got it on Amazon marketplace for a reduced price. She thought the book was helpful. Her experience with Theory books is that they all have limitations and do not always explain things the same. You can also buy released copies of previous exams through the Collegeboard. (Last I checked 2008 and 2003 were available). If your S studies well independently and has knowledge of piano, he should do fine. Otherwise I would recommend a class or a teacher who has direct knowledge of the exam. I'm sure others here will also post suggestions soon.
    Best of luck!
  • BeezMomBeezMom Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    Alohagail - I'm assuming that your son isn't taking a class? Two of the websites our HS teacher recommends are musictheory.net and top20musictheory.com. The melodic dictation is pretty new to a lot of the kids, and I think you'd probably find examples on-line. Good Luck.
  • sagitersagiter Registered User Posts: 358 Member
    This is the book my son used and actually hgas in college as well. He got a 5 on the AP if that means anything to you :-)

    Author: KOSTKA
    ISBN: 9780073401355

    Author: KOSTKA
    ISBN: 9780077269968
    Edition: 6TH 09

    For Aural Skills:

    Author: BERKOWITZ
    ISBN: 9780393969085
  • BeezMomBeezMom Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    There is quite a bit of information on the college board website: AP Central - AP Music Theory Course Home Page
    It's nice to have some free resources since textbooks are so costly.
    We were fortunate because my D's teacher was on the development committee for a number of years and is still a reader. She got a 5 as well!
  • opera-momopera-mom Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    alohagail...I guess your son realizes that even if he passes the test that not all schools will let you skip a level in theory....so need to check with the schools he intends on applying to...

    Policy at my daughter's school is that Freshman cannot test out of theory....She has had 2 years of theory in high school.....so I guess theory this year will just be a good refresher coarse for her.
  • cartera45cartera45 Registered User Posts: 12,461 Senior Member
    Even if a student does test out of some theory, it is not always a good idea to do it. This varies greatly from school to school. Some schools have tougher theory classes than others. In these schools, some knowledge in theory is assumed and it only takes a few weeks to cover the material that was offered in high school classes. A couple of schools warned us that, every year, a few kids who tested out of freshman level theory come to them only a few weeks after classes start asking to go back to Theory I because even though they knew the basics to get a good score on a test, they were lost in the details after only a few classes. At least one school offered a remedial theory class for those who do not do well enough on the theory diagnostic test. The test goes beyond what would be considered introductory theory.
  • musicprntmusicprnt Registered User Posts: 6,253 Senior Member
    I agree with the others, you might find that getting a 4 or 5 on the AP music theory test might not place the student well when taking theory in college. Even though technically the AP music theory test represents the theory of a first level college course in theory, being a standardized test it doesn't necessarily give the depth that a college course would give. It obviously depends on the individual program, in some schools that AP might give them enough depth to 'pass on', but in others they might find that theory 2 assumes a lot more then the AP level.Plus it also depends on how the courses are taught, too, if an AP class, for example, is taught to do well on the test, which is limited by its very nature, it might get you a 5 on the test but not cover a fraction of what a college level class covers.
  • alohagailalohagail Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    He doesn't want to take the AP test as a means of not taking music theory in college. In fact, I think he just would hope to add something impressive to his resume on his college application, sort of beefing it up, so to speak. Our school doesn't offer many AP classes and this was something he is considering doing on his own.
  • BeezMomBeezMom Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    Alohagail - I thought about doing a similar post. The class was offered in our school (unlike your situation) and my daughter took it because 1) she wanted to learn the content - being a vocalist and violinist, she's weak in the bass cleff, chord patterns, etc, 2) it gave her more time to hang around in the music wing, and 3) She wanted to be able to show colleges that while she might be a B average student in the standard academic classes, she had the ability to learn music theory at an honors level.

    Is she hoping this will get her to the second semester of theory in college - No. Is she hoping it makes the first semester easier? You bet!

    Good luck - and PM me if your son is still looking for materials. I can get you a list from her teacher -
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,557 Forum Champion
    opera-mom and cartera are correct- from what I am seeing, the most one can advance would be from Pre-Conservatory Theory to Theory 1. For those of us who have singers, they might be great in most areas of the class, but the 4-part dictation is the sticking point! And some of the vocalists and treble clef instrumentalists may find that they have more to know to become really comfortable with the other clefs! My D is one of those that falls "in the middle", all of the material up to the 4-part dictation is too easy for her, but she simply isn't at the point where she can ace the dictation. The schools would prefer that they be placed in the lower level course and use the great majority of it as review and then get a firm grasp on the dictation part before moving on- the parents actually were actually treated to a speech about this during orientation.
    BeezMom- what's up with the top20 site? The link appears to be broken and I can't find a way into it.
  • BeezMomBeezMom Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    Sorry - I copied the links from our HS Director's page, and that's the only one that seems outdated. I'll check with him and update the info.
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,557 Forum Champion
    thanks! With everything that's happened to my computers and network this week, I'm getting just a bit paranoid when anything looks odd! Every little thing had cost me money this week, not to mention HOURS of time to troubleshoot. I think I need to volunteer for one of stradmom's "get-to-know- your-prof- missions in the tropical climes! I used to teach, do I still qualify? :)
This discussion has been closed.