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#1406641 - 03/29/10 07:38 PM Any piano teachers teaching music theory here?  
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I don't know what it's like elsewhere, but here in Australia, music theory exams are a prerequisite for certain music performance exams. I've just acquired a new theory student preparing for 5th Grade AMEB Theory of Music in August. She has to take the exam as a prerequisite for her AMusA. Thing is though, she's NINE. I have no problems teaching music theory at this level, but I've never taught such a high level to one so young. Any suggestions for breaking down sophisticated harmony writing etc for a nine-year-old? I know university-level musicians that struggle with this level of theory.


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#1406649 - 03/29/10 07:49 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Amosquito]  
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It's actually an additional requirement, not a prerequisite, so she doesn't have to do it before she does her AMus - she just won't get the certificate until she does.

The significant thing I'd want to know is has she done G4? Or is she just starting out cold?


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#1406709 - 03/29/10 09:28 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: currawong]  
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She's done Grade 1 and Grade 3 and gotten Honours. Not Grade 4 though. Her piano teacher started her on it, but it's taking up too much of her lesson time, so her parents were told to find her a teacher specifically for theory. She starts with me next week.
Thanks for the correction - it used to be a prerequisite but the change to "additional requirement" happened a few years back and I keep forgetting to change terminology.


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#1406734 - 03/29/10 10:05 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Amosquito]  
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I suppose you've seen the Blitz books by Samantha Coates?* They're aimed at kids, and should help you through. At least she's done well in G3. Good luck! I used to accompany a young girl once who ended up getting her LMus at 10 and also doing the required G6 theory, so with a really musical child it can be done.

* (Do they go past grade 4 though?)




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#1406736 - 03/29/10 10:08 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: currawong]  
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But it begs the question, why the rush?

And it is a really important difference 'prerequisite' and compared to 'corequisite'. ABRSM will not allow students to take the Grade 6 examination unless they have passed either Grade 5 Theory or Jazz Piano. This is a much tougher requirement, in my opinion, than the AMEB corequisite theory requirements!!

I think currawong's suggestion (BlitzBooks) is a great one, btw.


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#1406738 - 03/29/10 10:11 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Oh yes, I agree. I'd be taking it slowly and making sure it's not just a matter of getting questions right in an exam. And I don't think I'd be skipping G4 either.

I believe there's now no time limit after the practical exam in which to complete the theory requirement, so there really isn't any rush.


Du holde Kunst...
#1406812 - 03/30/10 12:51 AM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: currawong]  
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And yes, Samantha Coates books go to Grade 5. Not sure about 6?!


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#1406872 - 03/30/10 04:07 AM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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She's got the Dulcie Holland "Master Your Theory" book. Thank you for reminding me about the Blitz books. I actually have the Blitz Book of Harmony Rules and had totally forgotten I even had it, so that will be an excellent resource. I shall suggest to the parents they buy it as well if they haven't already.

At least the entries don't have to go in until June, so if she isn't ready, it's not too late to hold off sitting the exam.

Apparently the parents called five other teachers before me. All the others said they couldn't/wouldn't teach 5th Grade Theory. Earlier grades, yes, but not 5th. My lucky day, I guess. I needed another student.


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#1408824 - 04/01/10 05:17 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Amosquito]  
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I would make sure he goes through Gr4 first as each of the grades tends to build on the previous material. Also vote for the Coates books - they explain difficult concepts well. Get the Gr 5 Theory book.

Harmony - playing through the cadences, progressions so the student can hear them is also a great help. Same with chords inversions and harmonising with inversions, passing notes, aux notes etc.



BB

#1409021 - 04/01/10 09:43 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Pedagogia]  
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And further on the Blitz Books - I don't think any university music student would struggle with writing harmony if they were using Samantha's books :-)


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#1409048 - 04/01/10 10:21 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Hehehe university students struggling with harmony? I haven't started to come accross that yet, I guess I will a bit later :P ... I personally am not a great fan of Dulcie Holland theory or AMEB theory, however Dulcie Holland was was great for allowing me to pass with flying colours but in the end I saw my theory test as a memorisation test rather than a music skills test.

I love the way harmony is taught in uni, (well atleast I love the way its taught in my uni - I go to the con) and a lot of it makes sense to me! (though I could be speaking too soon)

A nine year old doing theory, all I have to say is WOW! She must be a bright little girl.

#1409065 - 04/01/10 10:55 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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yep, Rebekah I have to agree with you - I never knew any uni students who would have struggled with grade 4/5/6 harmony either!! Guess it depends which uni??

And I also agree with you in that I'm no great fan of AMEB theory either - and your post reminded me: students don't *have* to do the AMEB theory, they can do the ABRSM or Trinity College London theory exams (albeit a grade or two higher than the AMEB ones). I find either or these two syllabuses miles ahead in terms of a structured approach to music theory education to the AMEB options. And maybe a nine year old might enjoy these programs more? You can download sample theory papers from the Trinity College website www.trinitycollege.co.uk


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#1409074 - 04/01/10 11:07 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
And further on the Blitz Books - I don't think any university music student would struggle with writing harmony if they were using Samantha's books :-)


I'm constantly amazed at how poor the pedagogy is in modern collegiate level theory textbooks. I'm also consistently amazed at how bad college theory teaching is, and how poorly the students do.

Counterpoint, functional harmony, and form/analysis are EASY if taught well. When I taught at the college level, I used to brag about how I could explain augmented sixth chords to anybody in 20 minutes. I'd have students show up at my office having scraped by with Cs year after year. After 20 minutes, they'd leave my office saying "um...why the **** don't they just explain it like that in the first place?"

There are only two things that make theory difficult: 1) Bad Teaching 2) Extreme Laziness.

In my experience, #1 is far more common.


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#1409222 - 04/02/10 06:31 AM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Eilsa, I think that all examination boards have their upsides and drawbacks. I also think that teachers should never encourage their students to solely follow an examination board syllabus as their whole music education. The great thing about Trinity is that it has a accompanying syllabus as well as a section for composition and improvisation if the student wishes to pursue such areas. In saying all of this I notice that Trinity Guildhall is limited in the repertoire they let the student pick from.

Kreisler, I'm amazed at the fact that colleges dont teach harmony right, its straight forward where I go to !

#1409244 - 04/02/10 07:25 AM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
yep, Rebekah I have to agree with you - I never knew any uni students who would have struggled with grade 4/5/6 harmony either!! Guess it depends which uni??

And I also agree with you in that I'm no great fan of AMEB theory either - and your post reminded me: students don't *have* to do the AMEB theory, they can do the ABRSM or Trinity College London theory exams (albeit a grade or two higher than the AMEB ones). I find either or these two syllabuses miles ahead in terms of a structured approach to music theory education to the AMEB options. And maybe a nine year old might enjoy these programs more? You can download sample theory papers from the Trinity College website www.trinitycollege.co.uk

Are these samples Trinity rather than AMEB? There are some things that I liked better than our RCM exam.

#1409595 - 04/02/10 05:01 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler

Counterpoint, functional harmony, and form/analysis are EASY if taught well. When I taught at the college level, I used to brag about how I could explain augmented sixth chords to anybody in 20 minutes. I'd have students show up at my office having scraped by with Cs year after year. After 20 minutes, they'd leave my office saying "um...why the **** don't they just explain it like that in the first place?"

The teacher I had, long ago, would say:

Italy, Germany, France

Playing a dominant 7 chord, first leaving out the 5th (Italy), sticking it in (Germany) and flatting the 5th (France).

Then simply saying that the normal minor 7th was reversed to an augmented 6th for harmonic reasons.

Then gleefully coming up with example after example where "poor composers" did not always follow the rule, such "poor composers" being, of course, the greatest.

His non-traditional and comical presentation stuck in my mind for a lifetime, and for me it only took about 5 minutes. smile


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#1409637 - 04/02/10 06:37 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Originally Posted by Rebekah.L
Eilsa, I think that all examination boards have their upsides and drawbacks. I also think that teachers should never encourage their students to solely follow an examination board syllabus as their whole music education. The great thing about Trinity is that it has a accompanying syllabus as well as a section for composition and improvisation if the student wishes to pursue such areas. In saying all of this I notice that Trinity Guildhall is limited in the repertoire they let the student pick from.
No, I didn't mean to suggest that anyone should use an examination syllabus as a music education curriculum - in fact, I spend most of my time in my seminars urging teachers to do the complete opposite!

Meantime, just because you do Trinity theory doesn't mean you have to do Trinity practical exams, of course, and while the choice of repertoire looks restricted in comparison to the AMEB syllabus, where there are more than 100 pieces for each grade from which to choose, in the context of the UK Trinity offers more choice than the other boards!


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#1409638 - 04/02/10 06:39 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: keystring]  
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
You can download sample theory papers from the Trinity College website www.trinitycollege.co.uk

Are these samples Trinity rather than AMEB? There are some things that I liked better than our RCM exam.

Yes, these are the UK-based examination board Trinity College London theory papers. The AMEB doesn't make resources available on the web as yet, apart from the dedicated P Plate Piano site, which of course is for absolute beginner pianists....


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#1409693 - 04/02/10 08:37 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
Originally Posted by Rebekah.L
Eilsa, I think that all examination boards have their upsides and drawbacks. I also think that teachers should never encourage their students to solely follow an examination board syllabus as their whole music education. The great thing about Trinity is that it has a accompanying syllabus as well as a section for composition and improvisation if the student wishes to pursue such areas. In saying all of this I notice that Trinity Guildhall is limited in the repertoire they let the student pick from.
No, I didn't mean to suggest that anyone should use an examination syllabus as a music education curriculum - in fact, I spend most of my time in my seminars urging teachers to do the complete opposite!

Meantime, just because you do Trinity theory doesn't mean you have to do Trinity practical exams, of course, and while the choice of repertoire looks restricted in comparison to the AMEB syllabus, where there are more than 100 pieces for each grade from which to choose, in the context of the UK Trinity offers more choice than the other boards!


Hehehe, great to hear! Do you do much work at the con? Since you live in Sydney I have a feeling that I might bump into you someday :P

#1409702 - 04/02/10 08:48 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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Originally Posted by Rebekah.L
Do you do much work at the con? Since you live in Sydney I have a feeling that I might bump into you someday :P

I'll be presenting the first seminar in the Piano Teacher Festival at the con on April 17 - looking at the completely new way of working with beginners that P Plate Piano is all about - and of course, the AMEB has organised for me to be there talking about that..... But then on April 20 I'm back in Sydney doing a seminar for Alfreds (who are bringing Nancy Bachus from the States to talk about her fantastic repertoire series) where I talk about my own music, especially Pepperbox Jazz. (Alfreds distribute Faber Music). But the Alfreds seminar isn't at the con, at least I don't think so....


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#1409711 - 04/02/10 09:01 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Ohh awesome! ... I didn't know the piano teachers festival was going to be on this year, since they called it off years before. (I know a friend who attends this religously so I'll let her know about it). Have fun!

#1409867 - 04/03/10 04:57 AM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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I've found AMEB's Music Craft teaches harmony in a manner more similar to that which I experienced at university. I had to relearn everything I did in Theory of Music exams once I got to uni.

This student though is already part-way through the course work for 5th Grade AMEB ToM. It'd be pointless to change her to a different syllabus now. But it's good to have other ideas for other students in future.


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#1410150 - 04/03/10 03:46 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
Originally Posted by Elissa Milne
And further on the Blitz Books - I don't think any university music student would struggle with writing harmony if they were using Samantha's books :-)


I'm constantly amazed at how poor the pedagogy is in modern collegiate level theory textbooks. I'm also consistently amazed at how bad college theory teaching is, and how poorly the students do.

Counterpoint, functional harmony, and form/analysis are EASY if taught well. When I taught at the college level, I used to brag about how I could explain augmented sixth chords to anybody in 20 minutes. I'd have students show up at my office having scraped by with Cs year after year. After 20 minutes, they'd leave my office saying "um...why the **** don't they just explain it like that in the first place?"

There are only two things that make theory difficult: 1) Bad Teaching 2) Extreme Laziness.

In my experience, #1 is far more common.


Please do tell us your 6+ explanation. I'm interested!

I teach both piano and basic theory. My students learn theory in the course of their exercises and pieces. I teach them scales, and it goes from there: scales lead to modes, arpeggios lead to chords, chord progressions lead to sequences and so on so forth. I usually don't teach voice leading because my counterpoint is short of terrible and I'm not comfortable teaching something I'm pretty bad at.

I had a fairly advanced 9-year-old and she had no problem grasping the rudiments. We had only started applying them before I had to let her go (because of time constraints with my degree, not because of anything else). Try your student on theory. Start small. Point out parts of her pieces that are interesting. Insert talk of form into your lessons. You may be surprised.


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#1410185 - 04/03/10 05:01 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Minaku]  
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Originally Posted by Minaku
Please do tell us your 6+ explanation. I'm interested!


I'll do this in D Major

An augmented 6th chord is a type of harmony that comes before a dominant chord. So...start with a dominant octave:

A


A

Next, write the notes that are a half step in, and be sure to change the letter names:

A -> G#


A -> Bb

This interval (Bb - G#) is the augmented 6th. Next, add tonic:

G#

D
Bb

Next, add one more note. Another tonic for Italian. Scale degree 2 for French. b3 for German:

G#
(D, E, or F)
D
Bb

And Bingo! There's your augmented sixth chord. To resolve the chord properly, just reverse the process. The G# goes up to A, the Bb goes down to A.

In an Italian sixth, one of the tonics goes to the 3rd of the V chord and the other goes to the 5th.

In a French sixth, the E becomes the 5th of the V chord, so the tonic goes to the 3rd.

If we resolved a German sixth the same way, we'd get this:

G# - A
F - E
D - C#
Bb - A

But that means creating parallel 5ths (F-E and Bb-A.) The solution is to leave the D and F alone, creating a i64 chord:

G# - A
F - F
D - D
Bb - A

This is why theory books tell you that German 6ths have to resolve to i64 chords.

And there you have it. A 10 minute explanation that tells you how to find the notes for and correctly resolve an augmented 6th chord with correct voice leading. laugh

I write each step out on staff paper (instead of just naming the notes like I did above.) The whole thing fits neatly on one piece of paper.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1410216 - 04/03/10 05:49 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Kreisler - nice!!


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#1410223 - 04/03/10 06:11 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Credit where credit is due, though. Got most of it from one of my professors in college - Skelton at Michigan.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1410225 - 04/03/10 06:12 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Very neat, Kreisler.

And welcome back, Minaku! smile


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#1410244 - 04/03/10 07:01 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Elissa Milne]  
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Originally Posted by Elissa Milne

I'll be presenting the first seminar in the Piano Teacher Festival at the con on April 17


I am going to that conference/festival.
Looking forward to the presentation & meeting other teachers.

BB

#1410340 - 04/03/10 08:54 PM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: Pedagogia]  
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Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,337
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Originally Posted by BBBB
Originally Posted by Elissa Milne

I'll be presenting the first seminar in the Piano Teacher Festival at the con on April 17


I am going to that conference/festival.
Looking forward to the presentation & meeting other teachers.

BB
Please do come and say hello! I have not yet met a piano teacher is the whole country who participates in an online forum for piano teachers!! Or should I start the seminar by asking "BB, where are you?!" (don't worry, I won't do that!).....


Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com
#1410564 - 04/04/10 07:54 AM Re: Any piano teachers teaching music theory here? [Re: currawong]  
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,226
Minaku Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Minaku  Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,226
Atlanta
Kreisler, thank you for the explanation. It really is simple and easy (comparatively speaking)!

Originally Posted by currawong
Very neat, Kreisler.

And welcome back, Minaku! smile


laugh Thanks, Currawong. Been a long time away!


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina
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