Reproducible Theory Materials with Tenor Clef!

(This post contains affiliate links but is not sponsored by Theory Time.)

I’ve been teaching bassoon for over 15 years and have only recently added theory to my curriculum. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t see teaching theory as my responsibility. I have had a complete change of heart! The following is a review of the theory materials I am using with many of my students:

Theory Time (Reproducible Curriculum) was originally created for band and orchestra teachers. It comes in five levels, and each level is divided into an A unit and a B unit. Each unit packet includes either a pre-test (A units) or post-test (B units), lesson pages (1-2 pages each, 18-25 lessons per unit), and other supplemental material (vocabulary sheets, ear-training exercises, teacher instructions, etc.).

Level one starts out very basic (time signatures, intervals, etc.). By level five students are working on voice leading and 12 tone rows. My favorite part about the Theory Time curriculum is that exercises are available in all four clefs, meaning you can use both bass and tenor clefs with your students! Many of the lessons are published without a clef and students are asked to supply “the clef you use most often.” Other lessons are given in four versions, one for each clef. (See examples here.)

How I incorporate theory into lessons

Some of the instructions on the worksheets are confusing. Make sure that you have read over the assignment at least once before giving it to a student. I typically write in the clefs I want each student to use as I explain the theory assignment for the week. I assign two theory lessons per week, and if a student doesn’t complete them at home, we do one of them in the lesson and then I send the unfinished lesson home for them to complete. That way, even if a student never does theory at home, we get through at least one lesson a week.

How I make it cost effective

Each unit of theory time costs $40. This seems like a lot at first glance, I know. This is how I keep my costs down:

  • I use my MTNA Office Depot card to get black & white copies for 2.5 cents each (cost to copy Unit 2A = $0.70)
  • I skip level one (my students have had no trouble starting with level two)
  • I three hole punch the copies and have the students store them in a $1 three ring binder (cheaper than spiral binding)
  • I store up sheetmusicplus.com rebates and giftcards and apply them to my orders of Theory Time
  • I wait until sheetmusicplus.com offers 20-30% off sitewide before ordering (in 2014 they did this the last week of the year)
  • I earn 8% back on all sheetmusicplus.com orders because I’m a music teacher. Sign up as a teacher HERE (and I will get a $5 bonus!)

Most of the theory books on the market cost $8-15 each. If I use these reproducible materials with only four students, the total cost per student is $10.70. For each student thereafter, it’s only $0.70! I charge an annual $60 Registration and Materials Fee which covers all music and theory materials for the year. The more I keep my costs down, the more money I have leftover to buy cool stuff for my studio. I have found these reproducible theory worksheets to be very cost effective!

As of January 2015, I use levels 2A, 2B and 3A in my studio. I also recently purchased the level 2A/2B answer sheets. They include four copies of each lesson which show answers in each clef. To see example pages from all levels, go to www.theorytime.com.

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