Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People has been glowingly recommended by players of instruments as diverse as piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, mandolin, hammer and Appalachian dulcimers, trumpet, clarinet, harmonica, tuba, and keyboard (and more), and styles as diverse as classical, jazz, rock, blues, folk, world, and electronica (and more).

Students say…

Alexandra H.

Your book is phenomenal! I have tried reading theory books before. I never came near to reading a full one. They were just too dry. Yours cracks me up! I never imagined I’d have to explain when asked “what’s so funny?!” as I’m reading about music theory! The characters feel like little, supportive friends on every page. The descriptions and teachings are rich and spot-on. I truly, truly adore the book. It will stay on my shelf and will stay my favorite theory book. I’ll refer to it before any other. Thank you!!!

Jeff A.

I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve spent many years trying to get even just a little bit of understanding of musical theory and your book, in the first few chapters, has been more understandable and taught me more than anything I’ve ever read before.

Anthony H.

I am going to be a High School sophomore. Your book is just what I was looking for. It makes it easier and goes a lot deeper than our theory class did. Your book is wonderful and should be shipped to high schools around the country. Thank you for writing it.

Frank D.

I’m a mostly self-taught 75-year older who was looking for something understandable on chords etc., and about a year ago I found your book. Wow! I just wish I had had it several decades ago. I showed my teacher the book, and last week he bought a copy for himself. Thanks to you I think I am on the way to becoming a self-confident pianist.

Jessica L.

The book is great! It has provided a much-needed refresher to get me up to par for Analytical Techniques class. I must say, your book is much more fun than Schenker!!

Erin S.

I was filling out college applications and found I had to take a music theory test. I went right to the bookcase and pulled out my copy of Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People. It saved me.

Pamela C.

I was trying to wade through a course in jazz theory at the Conservatory, and it was about eight times harder than law school. When I found your book, at least some of it began to make sense, and I kept a few strands of hair.

Michelle C.

I’m a 40-year-old writer, trained in classical guitar as a kid, now writing songs for theater. Your books are not only accelerating my grasp of the keyboard, they’re also loosening me up, helping me feel potential sounds and patterns through my fingers and in my ears. What great books! I’m telling everybody about them. I teach writing at the college level. You’re a terrific writer. That’s rare and much appreciated too. Really good instruction books, in any art, are such a find. And yours are tops—useful, clear, stimulating, and engaging. Congrats!

Carolyn P.

Your book was an incredible aid for me in preparing for my masters program in liturgical music. I would praise most your accessible language coupled with a logical, funny and practical approach.

Marydale A.

Imagine my surprise when my guitar teacher showed me your book and it was all done in my font! A lot of people use my typeface, but your book rocks my world! Not only is it a dream to see it used so thoughtfully, but the content unlocks a world of music theory I thought I would never understand without dropping big bucks at Berklee. It’s an honor to have my handwriting grace your pages!

All the best!

Terry D.

After 29 years of playing guitar, I am finally able to tie it all together. THANK YOU!!

Brenda C.

You can’t believe how much your book is encouraging me and helping me. I never even considered learning any music theory because people always told me theory was very difficult to learn. HA! Not with your method! In short, you’ve managed to pull a bit of heaven closer to earth in this book! And I want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU for publishing it.

With best regards, Brenda C.

Amazon.com review

A music theory book that’s hard to put down (Imagine that!)
This is by far the most entertaining book on music theory I have ever read. It is one of the most understandable and easy to read, too. I would wholeheartedly recommend that anyone new to theory read the book cover to cover. Experienced musicians will find it useful as a reference.

Kevin G.

I feel like ‘Bones’ from the old Star Trek episode where he has to put Spock’s brain back together. Some how or other he finds this big round metal hat with lights all over it and rods shooting out here and there. Well, this hat contains all the knowledge in the universe. Yes. And you know what Bones says as he’s got his fingers in the middle of Spock’s noggin, still wearing the funny cap?
“Of course… it’s so simple,” he says.

Gene S.

I remember a two inch thick theory text from college–it was absolutely onerous reading. Edly’s is fun, light reading, but all the information is still there. I recommend it to all my musical friends when the T-word comes up. Thanks! You’ve made me a better musician.


I will be attending Berklee this fall for singing. I absolutely love your book. I love the way it is written–so easy to understand–and I must say even though I’m only up to Chapter 17, I hear music in a totally different way. Thanks to you I will be a bit more ready for Berklee.

Shelley C

I read chunks of your book on a flight last week and found myself hoping the return flight would be delayed, so I could spend more uninterrupted time in the airport reading it. Now even I can use terms like “diminished seventh” in casual conversation. I used to fear that musical knowledge, or the aptitude to acquire it, was something you had to be born with. Now I know I can learn this stuff, and have fun in the process. Thanks for demystifying the whole subject.

Don C., self-taught tenor banjo player

I am a self-taught tenor banjoist, and need all of the help that I can get. I just purchased your music theory book and think that it is great.

A grateful adult piano student, Joan H.

I love your theory book. I’ve tried several others and couldn’t get through them but really enjoy the combination of your rigor, humanity, and silliness. Thanks for creating it for us!

A grateful adult piano student, Joan H.


I have recommended this book to everyone I know. It has been my guide to linking everything I have done over the past 17 years in music. I just wish I would have read this a long time ago. I never thought I would need music theory, and after reading it, I don’t know how I could live without it.


Edly has taken on the daunting task of teaching music theory to those who don’t read musical notation, all the while gently chiding them to learn to read music. It is an interesting effort, filled with exercises that use the letter names of notes, CDEFGABC, instead of the little marks on five lines and four spaces of a musical staff, to teach theory. (He has the same exercises in music notation in each section for those who can read notation.) All you [non-notation-reading] wankers out there might consider giving this book a try.

Press and other Luminaries say…

Sheet Music Magazine

A light-hearted yet no-nonsense approach to a subject that often plagues the music hobbyist and professional alike. The book proves that music theory doesn’t have to be a hair-pulling, nail-biting experience; it can actually be fun!

Keyboard Magazine

So unusual and fun, even an ex-grad student can get excited…. could make all the difference to the student whose eyes glaze over at the mention of theory.

Music & Sound Retailer Magazine

A whimsical look at theory somewhere between Dr. Suess and PC for Dummies.

the Walrus, Egg Magazine

What ‘Dummies’ would have been had the editors been a little hipper.

Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

Now here is the music theory book that I’ve been looking for! The author has found just the right balance—not too basic, but not to academic or complex either. He also adds a bit of fun and humor to the presentation so that the material is not too dry. I’ve never recommended, or even reviewed, a book on music theory in the thirteen years that we’ve been publishing this magazine because I never found one that I felt like I could recommend highly. However, I do highly recommend this book. It is the best general presentation of music theory that I’ve seen to date and a great read no matter what your current level of music theory knowledge.

Performer Magazine

Roseman has written a book so bouncy and colloquial it’s hard not to smile while reading it. Rife with a double helping of adorably geeky ‘Can you believe this guy?’ professor humor, Edly’s is about as engaging as can be. Time and time again, he reminds us of the fascinating relevance and cosmic importance of understanding the innards of music theory. In so doing, he takes the teeth out of a topic that for many people is too intimidating to approach.

Eclectic Homeschool Online

Useful to classical and modern musicians alike, the book is intensely practical, its tone breezy, and the author keeps you on your toes… you don’t just read this book, you interact with it.

Paul Woodfin, Egg Magazine

If I had something like Edly’s when I was growing up it would certainly have become a bible.”

Dulcimer Players News

… a must-read for everyone who wishes to be an informed musician.

Dirty Linen magazine

… an informal and often funny approach to… what is often a dense subject.

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Edly’s love of music and teaching shone through on every page. Witty text and amusing pictures clearly convey complex ideas and keep the student involved and wanting to learn more… a wealth of knowledge in a small space, and always with encouragement and a grin.

Clavier Companion

Conversational and colloquial… we love Edly.

Fiddler Magazine

… a clear, inviting style that really draws you in… makes learning not only doable, but exciting and fun.

Michael Hedges, Windham Hill Recording Artist

Edly made a book about theory that isn’t cold and boring. Hooray! Now I don’t have to look for a book to teach my kids!

Music Teacher Magazine (UK)

… not run-of-the-mill: an engaging and detailed exploration… a very chatty style with lots of humour… blends effortlessly with simple eloquent explanations punctuated by cartoon characters and diagrams for the more pictorially minded – helpful to those not yet comfortable with music notation. I found myself totally absorbed… a must-have for [readers] of any age or level.

Performer Magazine

So bouncy and colloquial it’s hard not to smile while reading it. [With] a double helping of adorably geeky professor humor… it takes the teeth out of a topic that for many is too intimidating to approach.

Nick Humez, Portland Sunday Telegram

Edly’s teaches the building blocks of musical literacy in plain language, a step at a time. Veterans of college music theory courses will find Roseman’s approach disarmingly frank, refreshingly irreverent. Underlying the banter is plenty of solid information and down-to-earth advice. Helpful rules of thumb abound. A highly useful contribution to the literature.

Dana Pearson, York County Coast Star

This book proves that music theory needn’t be dry. The informative tome is fun, peppered with witty asides and lightened by playful drawings.

the Instrumentalist magazine

The breezy, humorous approach and whimsical cartoons add to the book’s appeal.

J.W. Pepper

This practical approach to music theory is refreshingly easy and fun to use. The author’s scholarly yet light-hearted narrative goes directly to the meat of the subject with no-nonsense explanations, clear examples, historical references, and even funny cartoons. This terrific book removes the stuffiness and mystery from the study of music theory and serves as an inspiration for any music student, performer, composer/arranger, or teacher. 

Alex de Grassi, Windham Hill Recording artist, guitarist

A most useful and entertaining book; covers the basics in a language so clear and simple that even guitar players will understand!

Teachers say…

Dr. Kenneth Lampl, Professor of Music Theory, the Juilliard School

An excellent way for any music lover to learn the basics. It is comprehensive and user friendly; a must for both musician and listener.

Bruce Pearson

It was exciting to see your fun and educationally sound way of presenting the material. You are a very gifted and natural teacher. Congratulations! 

With much admiration…

Jack Perricone, Songwriting Chair, Berklee College of Music

Folksy and clever, Edly’s succeeds in making us feel comfortable with a generally uncomfortable subject; it’s funny, quizzical, witty, and right.

Scott Reeves, Director of Jazz Studies, University of Southern Maine

A thorough and entertaining guide to jazz theory.

Fran Blasing

Great book!! I teach piano. All my students HATE theory. And I have always loved it. Your book is so funny, it makes theory fun!! And so right!!

Lisa Palumbo, theory/appreciation instructor

What a cool theory book… it rocks! Now I don’t dread lesson planning for my music theory class.

Blair F. Bettencourt, Music Coordinator, Westford Public Schools

I’ve taught theory for close to thirty years and I find your book refreshing and organized in a user friendly manner that takes a lot of the intimidation out of studying music theory.

Ken Kolodner

I am a hammer dulcimer player and fiddler who plays largely traditional music. I do A LOT of teaching around the country at music festivals, workshops, and music camps. While teaching a class, I said “there must be something out there in semi-English that explains this stuff.” And your book does! So I wanted to thank you for writing such a good book!

Raymond J. Suriani, High School Instrumental Music Teacher

I want to tell you how much I enjoy using your theory book with my high school level students. The presentation is fresh. My kids got a real kick out of, as they called them, “the little naked guys.”

Jennifer Goltz

I am a college music theory professor. I fell in love with your book! Most of my students are adults returning to school after years out in the world, and most textbooks are hard for them to relate to. Yours is perfectly pitched for them. They know too much to deal with the Dick-and-Jane theory books, and the last thing I want to do is alienate them by pointing them to Aldwell and Schachter, or Piston. Your book fits perfectly. You assume (correctly) that your readers want to understand what it is they’ve been doing, and do it better. Your writing style is inviting, fun, and instructive without being stuffy and overly technical. So I tell everyone to get your book as soon as possible. Thank you again for this gift to musicians and teachers everywhere.

Aaron H.

I teach guitar to approx 60 students in Anchorage Alaska, and let me just say you are the man. I put you up there with the top 10 people I would love to meet… next to Dave Matthews… sorry…. Anyway, your book, being an awesome work of genius, is the only one out of countless others that is falling apart… and that’s a great thing. I often refer to it as the theory Bible. I highly recommend your book as “the only theory book you’ll need.” Thanx from the trenches.

Susan O.

I have found your book to be a very valuable resource in my private studio. I have a student who is brilliant, but extremely hard to please when it comes to theory. I presented it to him last week and he immediately began poring through it, laughing at the asides and great illustrations. He is literally “gorging” on this book, highlighting his favorites parts at home and then bringing them to lessons to share. You have helped immensely in reaching this student with your outstanding book. I’m sure I will use it many times over! 

Bob H.

I have been using your book to teach my high school jazz bands. Excellent book!

Cathy Britell

The book is just such a great resource… still the only music theory text that is truly a good read. And practical, for my students who are often adults learning dulcimers, autoharp, keyboard, singing, etc., haven’t had any formal music training in the past, and just need to understand how melody and harmony work and what all those black marks mean.

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