Written by Fiona Lau.
There seem to be many theory books around to help students pass their theory exams. They have cartoons, colour and stickers and do much to explain and bring theory to life. So why create another one? What could it possibly add to the abundance we already have. And who is Samantha Coates anyway?
Samantha Coates is the Australian author of the very popular BlitzBooks. A series of theory and sight reading books that have captured the imagination of students across Australia and whose books for ABRSM theory exams are now available in the UK.
These books stand alone; you won’t need anything else. No workbooks, no manuscript paper and no past papers. They are bright and breezy, straight forward, and written very much in the informal style of an older brother or sister who has done the work and is now passing on all the tips and hints you will need to succeed.
They best suit students aged 9+. The language is clear and appealing and the approach is different and fun; a blessing for those of us who get a bit bored with the staid and predictable. For example, the Theory Grade 1 book starts off with an Unofficial History of Middle C. It explains how Middle C came about and why it’s where it is. I learnt things I had never heard of before!
Each page is clearly laid out with a few illustrations and different fonts. The book includes explanations and exercises; Did You Know? sections; Hot Tips; Handy Hints; and Timed Tests. There are also Quick Revision, Tiny Test, Rather Short Test pages and a Mad Multiple Choice test as well as a Test Paper…sort of. This is a test paper completed by a pupil who has got some questions right and others definitely wrong! The student is the teacher and has to mark it. I love the idea of turning the usual process on its head; it makes students think beyond the test.
The subsequent books follow in a similar style. For example the Theory Grade 2 book starts with a ‘Crash Course on Grade 1’ page. ‘Remembering Relatives’ is at the start of the Theory Grade 3 book as well. They all then cover everything you need to know for each grade under titles such as ‘Terrific Triads’, ‘What’s The Time’ and, one of my favourite pages, ‘6/8 is From Mars’.
There’s plenty to smile at. All the information is covered quickly (each topic is dealt with in one or two pages); it’s to the point and much of it made me laugh out loud. That does NOT often happen when I read theory books! The series reminds me of the Horrid History books with its way of communicating facts in a humorous but effective way. Refreshing, attractive and informative – who could ask for more?