What is theory?
Thought that playing piano was just about… playing the keys? Nope.
First, kids need to learn how to read the music on the page. And then they need to be able to understand it. For littler people, who have just started learning their alphabet or how to read text, or read fluently, this means having to learn a new language—the language of music.
Then there’s remembering where those notes are on the piano, and combining them with the correct rhythm, and learning about form and composers and general knowledge and ear tests and so forth.
‘Theory’ elements are integrated into every one-on-one lesson, but teachers do not have the time to go through aspects of theory thoroughly within each lesson.
Students who participate in theory classes:
- Are more confident with their playing (because they are used to note reading)
- Play more fluently (because they are used to note reading)
- Are more enthusiastic about playing new songs (because they recognise more notes)
- Are more confident with rhythms
- Have better general knowledge about music
- Progress quicker
- Will be able to sit an exam sooner.
Not to mention that theory classes enable students to interact with other kids their own age, who may be playing similar songs to them. Learning piano can be a solo experience, but it doesn’t have to be.
A certain level of theory is also COMPULSORY for those sitting advanced piano exams, or certificates are not issued by the AMEB.
This is a rough estimate of the level of theory required for those undertaking piano:
- Preliminary or Beginner level – Beginner theory (based on consolidating note reading, basic musical terms and rhythm)
- Grades 1-2 – Grade 1 theory
- Grades 2-3 – Grade 2 theory or musicianship
- Grades 4-5 – Grade 3 theory or musicianship
- Grades 6-7 – Grade 4 theory or musicianship