Best Music Theory Books For Beginners

62% of children and just under half of adults will start learning music at some point in their lives, sadly, a lot will give up because they couldn’t get to grips with music theory.

That doesn’t have to mean you quit. In fact, there are loads of really good resources to help you get through this. 

Our best music theory books for beginners will guide the way, no matter what you want to learn. 


Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory
A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians

This is an essential course to get you into music theory. The pack contains a couple of CDs and 75 lessons to get you comfortable with the basics of music theory.

It also provides hundreds of questions to get you thinking more deeply and to ensure you retain what you learn. 

You can grab a copy online here.

alfreds essential music

The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis

If you ever read music at university level then you’re likely to come into contact with this rather useful book. 

It is one of the most complete music theory resources out there and it will lead you from the very basics through to quite advanced concepts. We like that it comes with a workbook too. 

You can grab a copy online here.

musicians guide to theory and analysis

The Jazz Theory Book

The Jazz Theory Book

If you’re all about jazz then you might want to use a more specialist text for your music theory and this work by Mark Levine should be about perfect.

In the 500+ pages there are hundreds of worked examples of jazz musicianship. Even if you’re not studying jazz, it’s worth a look. 

You can grab a copy online here.


Music Theory for Computer Musicians

Music Theory for Computer Musicians

Not everyone makes music with a traditional instrument, in the 2020s many of us use nothing but a computer to create the sounds we love.

This book is for that style of musician, whether you’re a DJ, would-be producer or a computer musician, you’re going to learn some really useful techniques. 

You can grab a copy online here.


Adult All-In-One Course: Lesson-Theory-Technic

Adult All-In-One Course: Lesson-Theory-Technic

If you’re put off by the size of some of the other texts in this list, then the Adult-All-In-One Course might be more to your tastes.

It’s for aspiring pianists and runs to a very svelte 160 pages. We’ve found that even folks with no musical experience at all, find this a very easy to use theory lesson. 

You can grab a copy online here.


WP232 – Theory And Technic for the Young Beginner – Primer A 

WP232 - Theory And Technic for the Young Beginner - Primer A 

This is the ideal starting point for the piano for the younger reader. It’s exactly 40 pages long and it uses a graded lesson approach to introduce and build on new concepts.

It’s not going to take forever to work through this and that will give your child prodigy the confidence to keep going. 

You can grab a copy online here.


Berklee Music Theory Book 1

Berklee Music Theory Book 1

This is part of a longer course but if you’re just looking to understand the more basic areas of music theory, it’s a great place to get started. 

We loved the hands-on and ears-on sessions which helped to build up skills really quickly. Practical learning is always best, we think. 

You can grab a copy online here.


Music Theory For Dummies

Music Theory For Dummies

Yes, it’s from that “For Dummies” range that seems to intrude into every area of modern life, fortunately, it’s also very good. 

If you want a simple text that even a kid can work through without getting bored, this might be your cup of tea. 

You can grab a copy online here.


Music Theory: From Beginner to Expert; The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Learning Music Theory Effortlessly

Music Theory: From Beginner to Expert; The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Learning Music Theory Effortlessly

Sure, the title says “to expert” but, in reality, it’s more about giving beginners confidence in their knowledge of fundamental theory than a primer on how to be the next Mozart.

Sadly, there’s no accompanying CD to this work and it really could have used one, some of the examples are a little harder than average to work through without one. 

You can grab a copy online here.


Music Theory for Guitarists: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

Music Theory for Guitarists: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

The guitar is one of the most popular instruments to learn and this is a great book for getting under the skin of the guitar. 

It’s full of easy to read and to apply diagrams and instructions. If you don’t like to read a lot, this could well be the perfect guide for you. 

You can grab a copy online here.


Final Thoughts On Music Theory Books For Beginners

Music theory isn’t the easiest part of music to learn but all of our best music theory books for beginners make it much easier than it has to be.

We hope that you find one that helps you continue on your musical journey, you won’t regret it. 

If you’re looking for something a little less technical to read, may we recommend: Hit-Men, How Music Got Free and How To Write One Song, they’re all fascinating and entertaining. 

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