Kyle Brenner

I love this book and will recommend it for all my students looking to pursue ear training! As a studio teacher, I’ve often heard students complain that they wished they could figure out what chord that was that just went by….”How do you know that’s a minor chord there?” or “Why are you using that voicing or inversion for that?

And as a teacher, I tell students that I’d like them to be able to figure out songs for themselves, instead of relying on my ear or a potentially bad TAB from the internet, but how to get there? Now there’s a tool for the teacher and the student of ear training, and it’s called Garage Band Theory.

Duke Sharp’s book is, simply put, the first book I have ever considered putting on my required materials list as a guitar teacher.

There are lots of worthy books out there, but students would have to buy five books or more  to cover this material in the way that Duke has in just one book. And, its focus is not on reading notes; rather, it helps to train oneself to break free of reading notes and to use one’s ear! I was classically trained as a cellist, and by classically trained, I mean, I was taught to read everything on a sheet of music and interpret everything just as the composer wanted. But most of us classically trained musicians tend to feel glued to the page, or shackled by what the composer wanted. “What about me?” we’d ask. I feel strongly that ear training and mastering an ability to free oneself from the page are not only desired traits, but empowering as well.

This book covers everything you need to know about music theory, and it covers a wide variety of instruments and musical genres, so it’s not limited to being just a manual for guitarists. Starting simple, with note names and counting, then moving into intervals, scales, and chords, this book takes a very in-depth approach to seemingly simple material, fleshing out many ideas that most of us musicians have either glossed over or have only scratched the surface of. I’m very impressed with the versatility of Garage Band Theory, covering such things as moveable forms of scales for guitar, but also mandolin, mandola, violin, viola, cello, and tenor (eleven) banjos as well. Not only does Duke address various instrumentation; he addresses a wide variety of musical genres as well—jazz, rock, blues, folk, classical, and even ska. Chapter quizzes are followed by inspirational quotes, and the glossary of musical terms at the back is worth the price of the book alone. Duke does a great job of referencing and directing the reader to things he’s covered with a clear and concise road map throughout.

If you’re looking for a manual that will help train your ear and fill in the gaps in your music theory, Garage Band Theory is it. As a seasoned musician with 30 years of classical training and 25 years of ear training, I still learned a lot from this book. Empower yourself and start using this book now!