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A question to music teachers...

Discussion in 'Personal' started by anon3372, May 1, 2011.

  1. It is the more theoretical stuff. He can read the general notation. I actually think he is overstrecthing himself with the other stuff and it can take time, but he is quite ambitious. However, he says that he "feels" the music more than he "feels" what is on the page.
    Thanks for your tips - I will pass that by the music teacher (the one who reckons he can't really teach him much more [​IMG])
  2. Ah I was hoping you were going to say he was seven or something and I could just say it was because he was really young!
    So it sounds like his playing ability (and his ear) are more developed than his ability to read notation? Reading notation probably frustrates him as he feels it holds his natural ability back.
    If he is really talented and you think he may continue on to study music it would be really beneficial for him to learn to read notation confidently. Just off the top of my head, maybe he should be encouraged to work on things simultaneously so for example he can continue to do the things he loves but at the same time he has a piece he works on which he is reading and playing from the notation? Or you could look at theory with him using the AB workbooks and treat it more like an academic exercise. Does he like maths? I often think theory is a lot like maths.
    I think a dual approach (even if he is a bit reluctant!) is probably the best way. It's a tough one and is always a problem when someone is a natural musician but not a natural reader- there's not an easy or necessarily correct answer. I'm lucky as I always read music very easily (my ear took a long time to develop however!)
  3. saxo07

    saxo07 New commenter

    Hmmm the music teacher's attitude does concern me! We should always want to push our gifted and talented students (which makes me think the teacher may be under confident in their own practical abilities).I have several and tell them that there are always areas for improvement and much more to learn! But approaching the theory side really practically should keep your son's interest (but as you said he is still young!).
    The fact that he says he 'feels' the music is fantastic. I actually think it is the right way round. I can teach anyone the theory, but they have to 'feel' it to really understand.
  4. Yes but you have lost me on the rest!
    My BIL did lots of squiggles with him which they both understood - honestly, I have no idea. It made sense to them. My BIL is also a musician, his Das is (but no theory), my uncle is (a music teacher) but apart from Dad, the rest are in the UK. My greatgrandmother was a concert pianist, so genetics must be in there somewhere (passed me by).
    All I know is he finds the theory a hinderance (he says it is not like feeling the music - I have no idea what feeling the music feels like).

  5. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    It sounds to me as if you should consider changing piano teacher if they feel they have reached their limit. I had a lovely piano teacher who took me to grade 5 and then, at her suggestion, changed to a more qualified teacher to take me to grade 8. If your son is taking ABRSM practical grades then he will need to pass grade 5 theory to take from grade 6 upwards. I used to work on the theory books with my piano teacher almost from the start. We'd spend a few minutes at the end of the lesson and then I'd do some exercises as homework. Later this switched to my violin teacher and I went to the dizzy heights of grade 8 theory!
    Understanding the theory is really important IMO and it is much easier to start at the beginning than waiting till grade 5 has to be passed in order to take grade 6 practical.
  6. Oh if he can read ok I wouldn't worry about the rest to be honest! Reading notation is the most important aspect of theory and if he can do that I wouldn't push the rest. Everything else can be learnt as you study the actual music. I also think the teacher sounds a bit dodgy maybe you should look for another one, one who can stretch your son?
  7. saxo07

    saxo07 New commenter

    I completely agree with marlin. Theory is important, especially if he wants to carry on with music into later life and starting early is best.
    I think by 'feel' he probably mean he understands where the music is going and can pick chords out by ear as he knows which ones 'fit'. If someone can explain to him why those chords or pitches work well together then he will see that theory can only enhance his skills, rather than hinder them. A lot of students feel that theory isn't really anything to do with musicianship, but without it we wouldn't have much of the fantastic music we have today.
  8. I have just asked him. He says he knows how it fits but he says "it all sounds great, the theory, but that is head. My heart is playing. I know I need to learn the theory, but when I am playing, my fingers and heart do it".
    I am lost. I have no idea - his musical abilitilty is way beyond mine [​IMG]
  9. saxo07

    saxo07 New commenter

    Wow! I wish my students could express their playiing ability in that way! [​IMG]
    He is one of those fortunate students who seems to have an innate ability to recognise and order sounds. This means he does know the theory (sub conciously) but isn't expressing it in a theoretical way (yet). As long as you find a great teacher to link everything together he'll find that they aren't so separate
  10. *****. This is going to cost me a lot of money, isn't it?
  11. saxo07

    saxo07 New commenter

    Haha, it shouldn't do! A decent piano teacher should be teaching theory alongside (even in an informal way).If he is doing curriculum music at school there should be some theory in that and some teachers will help students with theory outside of class time (I run a theory booster clubfor example). But there are dedicated theory teachers, but I think your son wouldn't find them helpful as from what you have said he is really keen on the emotive side of music.
  12. Well, I don't know. He just keeps telling me he "feels" music. The stuff he composes is lovely, it makes me cry.
    I feel so stupid for not getting it. He just moves with it and feels with it.

  13. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    Is he able to write down the stuff he composes?
    He needs to be able to understand theory to do that :s
  14. In a form that makes sense to him [​IMG]
    I am really at a bit of a loss - did Lennon or McCartney write their music down in the right way?
    I don't want to destroy his love and aptitude with too much theory. It is quite fascinating to see him play - he is in a different world.
  15. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    My daughter is 9 and has been playing violin for almost 3 years. She is grade 2/3 violin, but obviously would not be grade 2/3 in the the theory exams - if that makes sense.
    However, she does need to know enough theory to be able to play at grade 2/3 level, as she needs to recognise the notes, timing, key signature etc for the pieces she has to play, and she needs to be able to recognise those independently.
    Her violin teacher incorporates that theory into her lessons, and is quite strict about her learning it as she goes along.
    It is great that your son has natural talent and a flare for music, and that should be encouraged. Unfortunately he needs however, be able to understand the theory of at least whatever level he is playing at.
  16. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    I don't know Cq, what their abilities were musically. But I suppose at least, your son needs to be able to know how to write in certain keys etc, and know the notes etc for those keys.

  17. This was going to be my question also.
    Music is a universal language for a reason. Using traditional notation, any musician can write down their work and any other musician can play it. Writing it down in a form that only malkes sense to that composer is no good to anyone except that composer.
    Being able to notate your compositions is vital if you don't always want to be relying on someone else to write them down for you.
    Perhaps he needs to use a computer programme like Sibelius to help him.
    I was doing some supply work at a secondary school and the GCSE students were asking me how to play melodies like Axel F and a few others so they could learn them. They were astounded that I could simply play the melodies and notate them there and then for them to play on the keyboards. A sound knowledge of music theory is vital and will only enhance his natural talent, not hinder it.
    If he can compose without it, that's brilliant, and it means he will probably not need the higher grades of theory, but he does need the basics in order to be able to learn to play music by sight only. Great if he can hear something and then play it, but what if there isn't a recording of a piece he wants to learn?
    He needs to see the necessity first and foremost. Secondly you need to find a good teacher who can teach him, but if he doesn't want to learn or can't see the point, any teacher is doomed to failure.
    Whereabouts are you?
  18. Does he?
    For whom?
    What does he need to prove?
    They can both swim and have no medals to show for it.
    Is it not enough to have a talent and just live it? Without making a load of theory out of it?
    I don't know.
    He wants to be a doctor, not a musician.
    But I am thinking, he may decide to study music.
    What a quanundrum!

  19. ^ this was the message I was supposed to have been quoting [​IMG]
  20. Doglover

    Doglover Occasional commenter

    Robsia, good music teachers are worth their weight in gold, and I so wish I had had a teacher like my daughter's when I was growing up.
    She knows everything about the thepry, lol, and she plays wonderfully too.
    She makes it all look so easy, and this gives my daughter so much more confidence too.
    Cq, getting the right teacher is vital, and I would echo those who say you should think about your son's teacher.


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