Math in Motion: First Steps in Music Theory Text

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Study music theory classically, through math!

Audience Age 14 and up; used in Classical Conversations communities in Challenge I
Accessibility Designed for music students of all levels
Ease of use Easy-to-understand lessons followed by exercises to practice directly in the book; very large margins provide extra space for notes
Page Count 275
Format Spiral bound consumable textbook
Publication Date 2015; second edition coming in 2017

General Description

Music theory teaches us how to communicate well through studies of order, harmony, relationships, ratios, dissonance, consonance, tension, and time. Th ese studies push us past the mere notes and ideas of a musical score to discover more of music’s grand purpose: to glorify our God and discover His beauty.

To study the history, the philosophy, or even the theology of music, we must first familiarize ourselves with its language. Just as we study English grammar in order to speak and argue well, so, too, we should begin with the “grammar” of music in order to practice it well and fully appreciate its history and philosophy.

In twelve chapters, Math in Motion takes students from a basic vocabulary of music (“ The Keyboard and Notation”) through a final project that asks them to analyze a musical score and discover its essential elements, including:

  • Time Signature
  • Key Signatures
  • Scale Degrees
  • Intervals
  • Triads
  • Roman Numeral Analysis
  • Math in Motion also includes activities, practice exercises, review and bonus chapters to engage students at all levels, helpful tools and charts, a glossary, and an anthology of famous hymns used as models throughout the book. Answer Key sold separately.

    Recommended for ages 14+.



    What is Math in Motion: First Steps in Music Theory?

    Math in Motion is an introduction to music theory designed to teach students the foundations of musical harmony. Students will study basic music grammar in order to create, test, and explore music and how it works.


    How does Math in Motion teach music theory?

    Math in Motion uses excerpts from well-known hymns to teach music theory, with an emphasis on logic, pattern, and numbers. The beginning lessons introduce basic music grammar. As the course progresses, students will use dialectic thinking to transpose hymns into different keys. Finally, at the end of the curriculum, students will offer a rhetorical presentation of a score they have analyzed.

    What is the purpose of this music curriculum?

    The purpose of Math in Motion is to help students gain a better understanding of musical concepts in order to understand how music works. Students will learn that music is not something we use to indulge the senses. Instead, music is an art that must be studied and analyzed for the sake of training the mind. Math in Motion teaches students that musical knowledge requires hard work and proper training in order to practice discernment and to develop both listening and performance skills. The curriculum allows students to appreciate music as a mathematical discipline, making strong connections between music and numbers.

    Do students need any prior music education in order to complete the curriculum?

    The curriculum is designed to engage students at all musical levels, whether they have no prior music education or have been playing an instrument for years. Students who sing or play an instrument will find it a helpful way to practice music theory skills and to bring the theory to life.

    Are students expected to complete the music curriculum in one semester?

    Some students will finish the curriculum and some students will not. We believe that all students should be encouraged to finish the curriculum even if the parent or tutor considers finishing unlikely. The curriculum is meant to push both the student and parent in areas of music that might be new. However, because each student is different, it is appropriate to have differing expectations. Even if students do not complete the curriculum, they will still benefit from it.

    Are the books consumable?

    Math in Motion is a consumable, spiral-bound textbook. It includes exercises and activities designed to be completed by writing in the workbook. Because this curriculum requires students to work with sheet music and staff lines, it was not feasible to create a curriculum that was not consumable. The answer key, Math in Motion: First Steps in Music Theory Answer Key, is not consumable and may therefore be used for any student in your home school.

    What kind of assessment, if any, is implemented in the curriculum?

    Math in Motion includes assessment in the form of activities, exercises, and an end-of-year project. Because music theory incorporates math, there are objective answers. Students must learn these processes and objective answers in order to recognize musical wisdom. We do not require that the assessment include letter grades or percentages. Instead, we encourage parents and tutors to assess each student individually, focusing on student progress and understanding rather than letter grades. The purpose of correcting wrong answers is to promote this understanding.

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