Perhaps only fellow music teachers can relate to my excitement of the new/updated RCM Theory Syllabus & Celebrate Theory workbook series!
I visited a music store yesterday to purchase books for students in anticipation for a fresh year in September, and notice a couple boxes sitting on the side of the checkout counter ... I begin to slowly walk towards it as it draws in my attention, sneakily peer into the boxesand ..... THE NEW THEORY SYLLABUS AND THEORY WORKBOOKS.
The reason why I'm so thrilled about this, is because prior to this change, RCM Theory Workbooks did not exist. Yes, they had the Official Practice Exam Booklets containing previous years examinations, but no formal/official practice books - this meant that teachers had to scour their preferred music store's print department, spend money on various theory methods (Sarnecki, Wharram, Vandendool, to name a few), try it out with their students and with trial and error - find their favourite workbook.
I myself attempted to avoid spending too much unnecessary money by visiting my parent's home to find my own previous theory books on a bookshelf. As I flipped through the pages of each book, memories of terror, tears, and boredom flooded my mind. Needless to say, I did not choose to recommend those books to my own students. Instead, I knew what I did not want. Yes, some are "classics", but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's an absolute must. You will find something that works for yourself, and your students.
Mark Sarnecki's Elementary Music Theory series worked the best for myself, as well as my younger students. There are 3 books in total covering all the aspects of basic music theory in a forward flowing, cohesive manner, while including some FUN elements for kids (wordsearch, matching). All 3 books also feature various instruments and composer biographies, touching a little on history and learning more than just their primary instrument -in my case, the piano. There is also an extra "Note Speller" for those who need a little extra review with their music notes :)
I love how students become well-rounded musicians, ask questions and become curious about all aspects of music.
For students undergoing theory exams, I was drawn to Mark Sarnecki's Elementary Music Rudiments for Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.
A close friend and colleague of mine enjoys using Grace Vandendool's Keyboard Theory books with her younger students, and Barbara Wharram books for those needing extra review and practice to reinforce theoretical concepts.
But, from seeing those brand new books yesterday, I am so thrilled that RCM finally decided to create their own theory books to co-ordinate with the practical levels. It makes everything so much more cohesive and draws up less confusion to new teachers, parents, and students.
However, even with all this said and soon-to-be done, I may still continue with Sarnecki's series with some students depending on their learning style but I am so excited to begin RCM's Celebrate Theory series in September!
**Sidenote: theory examinations still take place parallel to reaching practical level 5, there are theory books for Preparatory through Level 4, however no examination is required.