I met Robert Centeno, the author of the Primo Theory series, at the Texas Music Teachers Association Convention this past summer.  I was impressed with his new line of theory workbooks and bought quite a few to try in my studio.  After using them for a semester I feel like I can now give them a thorough review.

Primo Theory (published by Primo Publishing) is a series of 12 graded theory workbooks.  These books are similar in function to the Theory Time and Just the Facts series.  They cover all of the materials needed to prepare for the state grade-level theory tests.  The books are based on four guiding principles (as stated in the preface):

  1. Clear organization and uncluttered format – I see this as the biggest advantage this series has over other similar function theory books.  The pages are very clearly laid out and uncluttered.  New sections are easy to find and the instructions are clear.
  2. Learn by doing – Robert aims to have concise explanations and guide the students through new concepts step by step.  This cuts back on long wordy explanations at the beginning of new concepts and is very effective.
  3. Ease of access – Levels 5-12 include interactive web apps for ear training exercises.  These are easily accessed through a web address or QR code.  This is another big advantage of these books, it makes the at home ear training much easier to manage.  I do wish that this feature was included in the lower level books, maybe there are plans to add it in the future.
  4. Adaptation and collaboration – Robert is able to make updates to these workbooks very quickly, therefore he plans to adapt and keep his books current with the state requirements for music theory.  He believes in accessibility and openness as a company and hopes that teachers will collaborate with him to continue to improve the workbooks.


I have enjoyed using these books with my students.  The covers and designs are appealing to students and look very current and fun.  They are easy to understand and use with students.  I have found some minor typos in the books, but I believe these will be quickly fixed and are not a big issue.  If you are unsatisfied with the theory books you currently use, or you are looking to start more theory with your students, I suggest you consider using the Primo Theory series.

Check it out for yourself at

You can view all the pages from every level on their website to get a full preview.

Author: Spring

Spring Seals, NCTM, teaches 60 piano students ranging from age 3 to 70 in Fort Worth, Texas. She also serves as the Director of Certification for TMTA. She is passionate about helping teachers become more effective in their studios through professional development, new resources, and fresh ideas.

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