This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure policy.
Want to teach your kids how to play by ear?
I received Garage Band Theory, which teaches kids to play by ear, for free and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my honest opinions and I was not required to post a positive review. For more information, please read my disclosure.
One of my goals with music appreciation is for my kids to be able to enjoy music. That doesn’t mean they only listen to Beethoven and haunt the symphony halls. It means they enjoy different styles of music, enjoy plucking out a melody by year, or jamming with their friends in the evening.
And that’s just what Garage Band Theory: Tools the Pros Use to Play by Ear teaches!
A professional musician for 30 years and a music teacher for 10, Duke Sharp took 13 years to write and edit the definitive guide to learning music theory: Garage Band Theory!
Garage Band Theory is a huge book (566 pages) designed to take a beginning musician from I want to play to be able to hear a melody, play it by ear, and create harmony for it. Needless to say, I was delighted to get my hands on it.
Music Theory, Mathematics, and Playing by Ear introduce you to music theory and the book. And no, Garage Band Theory isn’t the same thing as a music theory 101 course at a university.
Instead, it’s designed to teach you enough vocabulary and theory to get you on your way to read music, play by ear, and enjoy music with your friends.
There’s a section on How to Use this Book. In it, Duke Sharp explains that there are two distinct aspects to playing by ear. You need the physical coordination to make music on the instrument and you need to understand what you’re doing!
You’re given pointers in this section for how to work through the book, how long to practice, and how long it’s likely to take.
Now comes the meat of Garage Band Theory!
Garage Band Theory doesn’t assume you play a specific instrument like the guitar. It also guides you through the piano, violin, viola, mandolin, mandala, and banjo!
I must admit it’s fascinating reading through the comparisons between the instruments. I played piano, violin, and viola as a child but rarely touched the other stringed instruments.
As you work through Garage Band Theory, keep in mind that each chapter builds upon the foundation laid in the previous chapters.
Chapter 1 assumes no knowledge whatsoever. It begins with the note names: A B C D E F G. From there you’re carefully walked through the strings and taught how to tune the instruments.
Tuning stringed instruments is vital. Otherwise, they sound horrible!
You’re introduced to three commonly used clefs and shown the notes on the clefs. As I mentioned, Garage Band Theory walks you through everything you need to know to be able to play music by ear with your friends.
Exercises are given for you to practice what you’re learning. For instance, you’re encouraged to go through your songbooks and name the notes. Examples galore are included in the chapter. And at the end, there is a quiz to double-check your understanding.
The other chapters cover the material just as carefully and build upon what you learned in the previous chapters.
- Chapter 2~ Counting
- Chapter 3 ~ Intervals: Part One
- Chapter 4 ~ Intervals: Part Two
- Chapter 5 ~ Intervals: Part Three
- Chapter 6 ~ Scales
- Chapter 7 ~ Major & Minor Chords
- Chapter 8 ~ Beyond Major & Minor Chords
- Chapter 9 ~ Augmented, Diminished, and (alt.) Chords
- Chapter 10 ~ The Key
- Chapter 11 ~ Chord Progressions
- Chapter 12 ~ Melody, Harmony, Scales, and Chords
- Chapter 13 ~ Reading the Road Map
- Chapter 14 ~ Putting It All Together
Garage Band Theory Is an Incredible Resource
This one book covers my kids who love the piano, the guitar, and the violin! And should someone say, “Mom, I want to learn the Banjo!” I don’t have to run out to purchase more music. Garage Band Theory has us covered!
So now you’re wondering what ages can use this miraculous book. Here are my thoughts as a mom of six kids.
- Elementary kids can use Garage Band Theory if you teach it to them. It’s actually how I plan to start my 7 yo who is desperate to play by ear. I’ll read the chapters and use the book as a guide for teaching my little girl how to play the piano and violin by ear. She won’t actually open the book herself. Quite frankly, it’s beyond her reading ability. But the systematic approach is perfect for teaching her the skills she needs to play by ear.
- Middle school kids have the reading ability and comprehension to work through Garage Band Theory, but not independently. My recommendation is to work through the book together, explaining things as you go. Study the illustrations, work on the exercises, and take the quizzes together. Your kid won’t just learn music, but will also pick up good study habits from you as well!
- High school teenagers will be able to use Garage Band Theory independently. You’ll probably want to read through the book unless you have a musical background. My kids had questions about the illustrations and a tendency to rush on the exercises so they could move on to the next chapter.
If you’re looking for a resource to teach all of your children music, Garage Band Theory is the amazing resource you need. The book walks you through everything you need to know to play by ear and enjoy music-filled evenings for years to come!