Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Theory Knowledge Knuggets

It's January, and in my studio, that means that we're doubling down on learning music theory in preparation for our local Piano Festival's theory exams. Even though I'm not using my pirate-themed incentive program this year (stay tuned for a new incentive program offering this summer!), I still use my Theory Knowledge Knuggets document as a guide when teaching theory. Now, this guide is available to you, too!

Theory Knowledge Knuggets is a comprehensive, 10-page collection of 46 Knuggets O' Knowledge about music theory, and it's available in my Etsy shop. This document is included in Findin' Buried Treasure, so if you own that, you don't need to purchase this as well. However, you can now purchase the Knowledge Knuggets separately if you don't want to use the incentive program. 

In my piano studio, I find that the theory books that correlate with the popular method books don't progress quickly enough to prepare my students for the theory exams we encounter at our local Piano Festival or our state exams. So, I created this Knowledge Knuggets document to serve as a syllabus for the topics we needed to cover in preparation for our yearly theory exams. These are knuggets of knowledge gold!

At the beginning of each school year, I decide how many knuggets I will cover with each student based on the theory level I feel he/she should achieve that year. With a beginning student, I may cover only Knuggets 1-6 in the first year, for instance. I then print off that much for the student to include in his lesson binder. When a student has mastered all of the knowledge described in a Knugget, we check it off, the student gets a small reward, and we move to the next Knugget. Learning theory in small bites at a time is really motivating to students since they get to feel a sense of achievement every time they move to a new Knugget. Even if you're using a theory workbook, you can use this guide as a testing syllabus. I prefer to teach theory without a workbook, going along in a topic-based approach and writing explanations by hand in students' notebooks, and then reinforcing with games.

The topics start at a level appropriate for pre-reading students. By the end of the syllabus, students will have covered topics such as writing key signatures; scales and cadences; identifying the key of a written passage; transposition up to a fourth away; and writing major, minor, augmented, and diminished triads. In addition, the student will learn a large number of musical terms. This document can serve you for years!

The Knowledge Knuggets document doesn't tell you HOW to teach the theory; it just gives you a great list of topics in a logical order. Feel free to skip around - you can choose for yourself what order to teach the knuggets according to your needs!

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