In a previous blog I talked about how I teach theory through games. It takes a lot of organising and I keep the lessons very affordable which means they are not financially viable, but they are so much fun and the benefits to budding players is enormous.So what are the benefits and why teach theory at all to children who just want to learn a tune and have fun? I’m guilty of neglecting theory. I told myself that I did it in piano lessons as the need arose. But to be honest it was quite cursory, and probably not fully grasped. Then I hit the obligatory theory exam before Grade 6 practical and suddenly the work load was enormous as I attempted to fill in years of theory. But now, through games and strategic use of theory books, we are all back on track and reaping the benefits. Separating theory from playing was found to be, to my surprise, very worthwhile. It seems to me that when seated in front of the piano there is a strong desire to play, so there is less focus on theory then when approached separately. Of course there needs to be a link, but I found the two could work independently and be meaningful.The 6 greatest benefits to theory for me are:
- The layout of piano music is less intimidating the more it is understood (don’t kid yourself that children see the page as we do!)
- Notes are learned soundly, leading to greatly accelerated learning.
- Keys are really understood so sight reading is easier.
- A knowledge of musical terms, phrasing and structure make memorisation easier and enhances the musical performance.
- As more of the music page is understood, children can play with more feeling and enjoyment.
- All this leads to greater confidence.
So if you are a parent supporting your child in their learning, do support theory and learning. Be assured that it is helping your child and will actually increase enthusiasm as learning becomes less intimidating.