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Theory class?

Posted By: pianist_lady

Theory class? - 05/07/19 02:05 PM

Hi, just wondering if any of the teachers here hold theory classes outside of the regular lesson?
My approach has been to incorporate theory into weekly lessons, based on the needs of the individual student. This works pretty well, though many students are not willing to do much in the way of homework because they think it is boring compared to actually playing the piano.
Where things become a little challenging is when students take theory exams to fulfill the RCM Theory co-requisites. There never seems to be enough time to really learn all of the material without taking focus away from learning repertoire. I also find myself teaching the same theory lesson multiple times per week, and often think it would be so much more efficient to only do it once.
My childhood teacher did theory lessons on Saturday mornings, though I can't remember if my parents paid extra for this or if it was part of the lesson fee.
I find it hard to imagine my busy students committing to an extra class and being willing to pay for it., but maybe it could work.
Any thoughts?
Posted By: Dr. Rogers

Re: Theory class? - 05/07/19 03:21 PM

Originally Posted by pianist_lady

My approach has been to incorporate theory into weekly lessons, based on the needs of the individual student. This works pretty well, though many students are not willing to do much in the way of homework because they think it is boring compared to actually playing the piano.


This has been my approach and experience as well.

Quote
Where things become a little challenging is when students take theory exams to fulfill the RCM Theory co-requisites. There never seems to be enough time to really learn all of the material without taking focus away from learning repertoire. I also find myself teaching the same theory lesson multiple times per week, and often think it would be so much more efficient to only do it once.


Ditto.

I use ABRSM, and Grade 5 Theory is a prerequisite for Grade 6 Practical and above. I only have one student doing exams at the moment (they're not that popular yet here in Texas), and she and I have been discussing setting up a separate music theory class focused on the needful for Grade 5. Some other students have expressed interest as well, but I doubt I will have a large group wanting to do it. I'll probably wind up having dedicated one-on-one theory lessons with the exam student.
Posted By: WeakLeftHand

Re: Theory class? - 05/07/19 04:21 PM

I’m not a teacher, but my area has dedicated theory classes for those preparing for RCM theory exams. I suppose you will need a lot of students preparing for the same exam to offer such classes though.

http://www.euromusic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Spring_Theory_2019-.pdf
http://www.euromusic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Summer_THEORY_2019.pdf
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Theory class? - 05/07/19 08:32 PM

Originally Posted by pianist_lady
many students are not willing to do much in the way of homework because they think it is boring compared to actually playing the piano.

I let these kids fail. Let them experience failure. Just make sure you document their lackluster record week after week. I would make sure I remind these students and their parents at least three times a week that they will fail.
Posted By: Iaroslav Vasiliev

Re: Theory class? - 05/07/19 09:09 PM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianist_lady
many students are not willing to do much in the way of homework because they think it is boring compared to actually playing the piano.

I let these kids fail. Let them experience failure. Just make sure you document their lackluster record week after week. I would make sure I remind these students and their parents at least three times a week that they will fail.

You should probably rename your account to MrSmash. smile
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Theory class? - 05/07/19 09:37 PM

Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianist_lady
many students are not willing to do much in the way of homework because they think it is boring compared to actually playing the piano.

I let these kids fail. Let them experience failure. Just make sure you document their lackluster record week after week. I would make sure I remind these students and their parents at least three times a week that they will fail.

You should probably rename your account to MrSmash. smile

This is not smashing. Letting kids get the grade they deserve is hardly smashing.

Don't you teach kids that just refuse to learn anything?
Posted By: Andamento

Re: Theory class? - 05/08/19 03:08 AM

I hear you, Pianist Lady. It's hard to get busy kids to come to anything beyond the once-a-week regular lesson, in my experience.

One possibility to consider, though, might be that, if you have two similarly-matched students in back-to-back lesson slots, you could occasionally have the first student stay an extra 5 minutes and have the second student come 5 minutes earlier than usual. That puts a 10-minute block in the middle where both of them are there, at which time you could do a joint theory activity.

Or 10 minutes extra for each for a 20-minute joint session. Etc. Once a month maybe?

I haven't done this for theory, but I did it for a season with two similar back-to-back students who played a duet once for a recital.
Posted By: AZNpiano

Re: Theory class? - 05/08/19 06:31 AM

Originally Posted by Andamento
Or 10 minutes extra for each for a 20-minute joint session. Etc. Once a month maybe?

I have done that for two cheapskate parents who refused to pay more than 30 minutes of lesson time.

For the lazy students who never do any theory homework, I make them do the theory homework during piano lesson. Their playing suffers, but that's not my problem.
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Theory class? - 05/08/19 11:13 AM

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianist_lady
many students are not willing to do much in the way of homework because they think it is boring compared to actually playing the piano.

I let these kids fail. Let them experience failure. Just make sure you document their lackluster record week after week. I would make sure I remind these students and their parents at least three times a week that they will fail.


I do recognise that it's fully their responsibility to do the homework and remind them of that fact frequently. One of my students did fail, because she thought she could cram it all at the last minute, even though I told her that was a bad idea. I'm not losing any sleep over this, just trying to optimise my teaching.

Originally Posted by Andamento
I hear you, Pianist Lady. It's hard to get busy kids to come to anything beyond the once-a-week regular lesson, in my experience.

One possibility to consider, though, might be that, if you have two similarly-matched students in back-to-back lesson slots, you could occasionally have the first student stay an extra 5 minutes and have the second student come 5 minutes earlier than usual. That puts a 10-minute block in the middle where both of them are there, at which time you could do a joint theory activity.

Or 10 minutes extra for each for a 20-minute joint session. Etc. Once a month maybe?

I haven't done this for theory, but I did it for a season with two similar back-to-back students who played a duet once for a recital.

I have done this for duets as well. What I am thinking about is a longer session... maybe a review class close to the exam dates would be a good way to try it out.
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Theory class? - 05/09/19 01:59 AM

Pianist Lady, the school I have been taking piano at for the past 5 years offers children 30 min of lesson piano and then 30 min theory for pre-school. Middle school kids can take 30 or 45 min theory lessons. Adults are only offered theory by the hour. I took theory for 3 years, took 2 hour classes in addition to my 2 hour piano lessons. I would think it would be hard to teach piano and theory in one class and cover each sufficiently. I remember taking violin as a child for 10 years, theory was incorporated into the lessons never had a separate class.
Posted By: DFSRN

Re: Theory class? - 05/09/19 02:28 AM

AZN Piano, I agree with you, there are positive or negative consequences to behaviors. Failure teaches life lessons, I did not study, hence I did not pass. Not only do we learn this as children, adults experience failures as well or negative consequences. I was speeding...........got tickets... enough of them and you can't drive. Did not pay taxes on time...........fined. Don't show up for work............lose your job.

I taught online adjunct, adults failed because they did not do the required class work. Not doing the required work is not unique to children. Learning positive and negative consequences as children will better prepare them for life as an adult. I would not contend the child will fail, I would word it the child has a high probability of failing because................

Parents have a responsibility to take interest in their children's activities. Children need support and guidance to be successful. Teachers cannot fix everything, all you can do is try to motivate the student and provide information to the parents. It is the parents call what they will do with the information.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Theory class? - 05/21/19 11:37 PM

Students need to know why theory matters.

Divorcing theory from practical (teaching each separately) makes no sense: all my teachers taught theory during piano lessons, as and when. The two became one in my young mind. After all, if I was playing a childhood Mozart piece (like K6) which modulates to the dominant at the repeat barlines, it made sense for my teacher to explain that, as well as why accidentals come in, as I was learning it.

Of course, because I was doing ABRSM exams (Theory concurrently with the Practical, grade by grade), I also had to learn theory anyway......
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Theory class? - 05/22/19 01:16 AM

Originally Posted by bennevis
Students need to know why theory matters.

Divorcing theory from practical (teaching each separately) makes no sense: all my teachers taught theory during piano lessons, as and when. The two became one in my young mind.


This is not really what I was asking about. Of course you have to refer to theoretical concepts while at the piano; there is no way to separate theory from playing. However, if I'm teaching 3 different students how to complete measures with rests in compound time so they can pass the level 6 theory exam, why not try and do it in a class? This way I only have to teach it once, and the students can learn from each other. It just seems like it would be more efficient.
My childhood piano teacher did group classes for all of us taking theory and history exams, but I suspect she didn't charge very much (if anything). I'm thinking about ways to encourage students to come for an extra theory class, while also getting paid for my time.
Posted By: keystring

Re: Theory class? - 05/22/19 03:57 AM

Pianist lady, I recall that one of PW's senior teachers, John v. d. Brooke, who sadly passed away, did group classes for theory, and wrote about it. I wonder if his writings can be found in the archives through the search function. Maybe somebody can even pull it up and link it here. I hope my memory isn't mistaken.
Posted By: pianist_lady

Re: Theory class? - 05/22/19 12:21 PM

Originally Posted by keystring
Pianist lady, I recall that one of PW's senior teachers, John v. d. Brooke, who sadly passed away, did group classes for theory, and wrote about it. I wonder if his writings can be found in the archives through the search function. Maybe somebody can even pull it up and link it here. I hope my memory isn't mistaken.


Thanks-- I will look it up.
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Theory class? - 05/22/19 01:02 PM

Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Originally Posted by bennevis
Students need to know why theory matters.

Divorcing theory from practical (teaching each separately) makes no sense: all my teachers taught theory during piano lessons, as and when. The two became one in my young mind.


This is not really what I was asking about. Of course you have to refer to theoretical concepts while at the piano; there is no way to separate theory from playing. However, if I'm teaching 3 different students how to complete measures with rests in compound time so they can pass the level 6 theory exam, why not try and do it in a class? This way I only have to teach it once, and the students can learn from each other.

This was what I was referring to in your OP:

Quote
......many students are not willing to do much in the way of homework because they think it is boring compared to actually playing the piano.
Where things become a little challenging is when students take theory exams to fulfill the RCM Theory co-requisites.

Why does a student have to learn how to complete measures with rests (or whatever else compositionally related) away from actual practical piano lessons?

My teacher got me to compose piano music by Grade 4 ABRSM - very simple ones of course, mostly in two parts with a few chords - therefore I needed to play them for her as well as show her the scores. (Soon after that, I was required to add bass lines to melodies for my theory exam). That way, she could show me why and how all beats needed to be 'filled in' to make my compositions understandable to another musician. Not to mention a lot of other stuff that goes towards scoring music.

At no stage did the thought of "book theory" separate from practical playing enter my mind, because everything was practical. And apart from learning Italian, German and French musical terms, nothing was ever learnt as pure 'homework', as you put it.
Posted By: Tyrone Slothrop

Re: Theory class? - 05/22/19 01:26 PM

Originally Posted by bennevis
At no stage did the thought of "book theory" separate from practical playing enter my mind, because everything was practical. And apart from learning Italian, German and French musical terms, nothing was ever learnt as pure 'homework', as you put it.

Speaking from the perspective of being a piano student studying piano theory, besides terminology, I'm finding at least one other thing involves some study away from the piano - musical history. This musical history component definitely is in the syllabus for the RCM exams. I assume it is also in the syllabus for the ABRSM exams.
Posted By: dogperson

Re: Theory class? - 05/22/19 01:30 PM

Here is the thread rd group theory lessons. Recommendations, including materials, add included

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...essons-with-my-students.html#Post2278616
Posted By: bennevis

Re: Theory class? - 05/22/19 01:39 PM

Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by bennevis
At no stage did the thought of "book theory" separate from practical playing enter my mind, because everything was practical. And apart from learning Italian, German and French musical terms, nothing was ever learnt as pure 'homework', as you put it.

Speaking from the perspective of being a piano student studying piano theory, besides terminology, I'm finding at least one other thing involves some study away from the piano - musical history. This musical history component definitely is in the syllabus for the RCM exams. I assume it is also in the syllabus for the ABRSM exams.

I don't think music history is a requirement for the ABRSM Theory exams, at least, not when I was doing them.

You do have to know the styles of various composers, of course - but that's all gleaned from playing their music.
Posted By: hello my name is

Re: Theory class? - 05/30/19 05:22 PM

My teacher did group lessons once a month or so on top of our weekly private lessons, about four of us together of relatively similar skill level, and would incorporate theory into those group lessons. It wasn't an additional cost, probably something she had factored into her lesson price already. We would perform for each other and then there would be some sort of activity. Sometimes we did duets. Besides being really fun and socially rewarding, it's a good way to get the theory in there as well as whatever else you didn't have time for in lessons and is not super catered to the individual student (so music history, practice techniques, etc)! All of a sudden theory becomes more tolerable and success becomes more important when you're with your fellow pianists.... nobody wants to be the one who is marking their answers wrong when the teacher reads off the correct ones... lol...

I would never have signed up for additional classes of THEORY on a Saturday morning oh gosh no no no.
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