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Theory Programs (Read 2743 times)

Offline green

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Theory Programs
« on: July 28, 2014, 06:30:10 AM »
I'm setting up a studio in Canada and would like to offer theory courses, wondering what other teachers use and have found effective. I will offer theory prep for the RCM exams, and piano lessons through to diploma. I am wondering for younger learners if there isn't more fun systems, perhaps computer based with games etc. Do teachers integrate that with lessons or hold separate lessons, group lessons?

Thanks

Offline pianoslav

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 05:07:52 AM »
There's Music Ace. It's a computer program and pretty much teaches the theory for you. (for younger, lower-level theory students)

Offline green

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #2 on: July 30, 2014, 08:44:11 AM »
Yes that was what I was looking for, have you used it?  Designed to be integrated into the studio with assessment, and to be used with the Hal Leonard series which I have used for years. But I am just in the process of switching over and trying out Simply Music, and Play a Story, which has had great success with students and parents who are turned off by traditional reading based methods. Anyone with experience to share would be much appreciated!

Offline keypeg

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #3 on: August 01, 2014, 11:56:50 AM »
I'm setting up a studio in Canada and would like to offer theory courses, wondering what other teachers use and have found effective. I will offer theory prep for the RCM exams, and piano lessons through to diploma.
For your own students? 

In terms of the RCM theory exams, you should be giving your students the background toward these through the music you teach in the lower grades, practically first.  If the first level theory rudiments is taught in grade 5, then you have four grades to set this up.  They'll learn of major, minor and perfect intervals - well, they're playing those on the piano.  They'll learn to write out the major and minor keys up to 4 flats and sharps - the music they play has this.  The first level stresses locating the Tonic and Dominant chords.  As a piano teacher, you have a distinct advantage.

Music theory (imho) should start with what is real, because it describes what is real.  If you want to use games later, use those to reinforce what the student has already absorbed in music, which you have pointed out as you went along the first four grades.

Offline gracefulpianist14

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #4 on: August 01, 2014, 08:44:47 PM »
If you are looking for a very through and pretty much self-taught program I would suggest the Fundamentals of Piano Theory books by Keith Snell. I've been using these for about a year, and it's really easy to understand and ranges between primer level to pretty advanced (level 10).

Offline pianoman1349

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #5 on: August 05, 2014, 02:58:23 AM »


In terms of the RCM theory exams, you should be giving your students the background toward these through the music you teach in the lower grades, practically first.  If the first level theory rudiments is taught in grade 5, then you have four grades to set this up.  They'll learn of major, minor and perfect intervals - well, they're playing those on the piano.  They'll learn to write out the major and minor keys up to 4 flats and sharps - the music they play has this.  The first level stresses locating the Tonic and Dominant chords.  As a piano teacher, you have a distinct advantage.



That's a great idea.

For the advanced courses (Harmony, Counterpoint, Analysis and History), these are best taught as a separate class, either privately or in a class.  All of these courses can be easily taught in a group class of up to 5 people with 18 - 22 hours of lesson time.  The challenge with these courses, is that many of the students that will be taking these courses are fairly young (10 - 14 years) and will not have had much examination writing experience.  Practice examinations are essential for all of these courses.

Best of luck.


Offline green

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #6 on: August 05, 2014, 07:10:50 AM »
Thats excellent thank for those suggestions. Im still wondering about what material to use and how to present it. I am thinking that two tracks might be good, for students wanting to take RCM exams, use the RCM theory structure with exam dates as deadlines, so lessons can be set up more as modules with a certain amount of lesson hours, or courses that occur three times/year, with exam dates in Dec, May and August. These can be advertised as private or group classes.
There would also be a structured lower level theory course which is integrated with lessons and prepares students for the RCM exams. From grade 6 students can opt to have separate theory lessons.

The second track would be for what will most likely be the majority of students who, in my experience, are more motivated by just playing popular songs that they like. This could include some degree of integrated theory with lessons, as is done in the Hal Leonard series, they do this very well with many games and activities which makes it all more appealing. First track students would probably do something similar at this stages, everyone prefers candy coated theory :)

An aside: for sight reading, I use the new ABRSM sight reading app, which is excellent, all specimen tests from gr 1-8, an adjustable metronome counts you in and then continues to count the beat throughout, bars disappear as they are passed though. That is the best feature of this, and I have been looking for something like this for ages. But like all good things, the weekly routine can get boring, and variety wins over so finding different ways to present the same or new material always becomes the challenge.   

Offline pianoslav

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #7 on: September 01, 2014, 10:59:05 PM »
Yes that was what I was looking for, have you used it?  Designed to be integrated into the studio with assessment, and to be used with the Hal Leonard series which I have used for years.

I have used it, and it's great for the lower level theory, up through, perhaps early intermediate. I usually interchange Music Ace programs for the kids to do, with worksheets that I also hand out. This is helps them get used to learning the theory through both technology and by manually writing and practicing on paper (this will be important for music exams as well as any more advanced theory analysis, especially in college).

Music Ace also teaches itself to the student, so you don't have watch over them while they do it, although they can occasionally get stuck, so checking up on them once in a while is necessary. Then, after they're done with the lesson, you can check the mistakes that the student made during the lesson and there's a game related to each lesson that they can play.

But I am just in the process of switching over and trying out Simply Music, and Play a Story, which has had great success with students and parents who are turned off by traditional reading based methods. Anyone with experience to share would be much appreciated!
Can you clarify what you mean by a "traditional reading based method"?

Offline green

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Re: Theory Programs
«Reply #8 on: September 06, 2014, 09:19:23 AM »
any method that starts out with reading music, even with a simplified notation for kids. Simply music starts by teaching by rote, with their own notation which is very easy to use once you figure it out. Its designed more around the shape of gestures, and so the first two years is set up to prepare for reading. Parents join in lessons and help teach students at home, I haven't used it yet, but the ideas are appealing, I'm sure I would make lots of changes depending on the student.