Music Matters Blog (MMB): What is your musical and teaching background?
Paul Musgrave: After graduating from Juilliard, my co-author, Machiko, taught piano and theory at Soai University in Japan. I also taught piano for a number of years, after becoming an Associate of the Royal Conservatory and graduating from Juilliard. A few years later I resumed my formal education, earning an MBA from the University of Toronto.
In subsequent years Machiko and I found time to compose and our original compositions have been heard on the radio, internationally, for more than a dozen years. We have also worked together as the executive producers of numerous commercially successful piano music CDs. While that occupation may seem entirely unrelated to writing music theory workbooks, our experience with the presentation and marketing aspects of the CD business helped us enormously in developing the Doctor Mozart series.
MMB: What prompted you to write your own theory workbook? How does Doctor Mozart differ from other music theory books?
Paul Musgrave: We have found that without a solid foundation in music theory young music students can become frustrated and discouraged as they attempt more challenging repertoire. To avoid this frustration and discouragement and to support progress in their music lessons, they need thorough theory instruction that is entertaining enough to keep them involved. From our own teaching experience, Machiko and I have long felt a need for theory workbooks that are both in-depth and fun. Being just that, the Doctor Mozart series can be enormously beneficial for students, as the fun aspect keeps them involved while the in-depth exploration of the topics helps them succeed with their instrument.
MMB: How many levels of Doctor Mozart do you plan to produce?
Paul Musgrave: The Doctor Mozart series consists of three workbooks, the first of which is already published. All three levels cover a variety of progressively more challenging theory topics. For example, Level 1 emphasizes pitch notation, with plenty of practice matching staff notes to keyboard diagrams. Intervals, chords, and easy scales are introduced in Level 2, while Level 3 challenges students with key signatures having up to four sharps or flats. Each level utilizes numerous keyboard diagrams and color illustrations to support visual learning. Each workbook is 96 pages long, allowing ample room to cover the topics in-depth. By completing all three levels, students will acquire the solid theory foundation they need to facilitate learning intermediate level repertoire.
MMB: What have you found to be the most difficult part of writing, producing and selling your own workbooks? Has it been harder than you expected?
Paul Musgrave: We spent a full year creating Level 1, working in shifts around the clock in the final months. It took some courage to finally send it to the printer, knowing the huge investment needed to print a high quality workbook in full color. In any case, all our effort would ultimately prove pointless if music teachers had no way to discover the Doctor Mozart series. Since we cannot afford the kind of sustained advertising used by the major publishing companies, we are fortunate that there are alternatives, like the Music Matters Blog. This web site allows music teachers to discover resources, like our theory workbook, that are hard to find but can have an enormous impact on teaching success.
MMB: Any other comments youâ€™d like to add?
Paul Musgrave: Music teachers who would like to help their students excel should take advantage of the thorough and enjoyable theory instruction offered by our Doctor Mozart workbooks. Judging from the feedback we have received, young music students are responding with enthusiasm and their teachers are pleased with the results. The Doctor Mozart series offers a fresh approach to music theory education that is well worth a try.
MMB: Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview today, Mr. Musgrave. I know I’ve already enjoyed looking through Level 1 of the Doctor Mozart theory workbook. I’m sure many other teachers are interested in purchasing a copy of their own to look through and consider for use in their studios.
Head on over to the Doctor Mozart website and order your workbook today!