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Theory Club

Discussion in 'Music' started by gizzy, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. I'm playing with the idea of having a theory club after school - at least to road test the idea for one term. Has anyone ever done this, and what did you use?

    I want to invite anyone from years 3 to 6, at whatever level, so my resources have to be flexible. If I only had a few children I could well teach "in the open" and cover a topic, say, rests, with all of them, going into more detail with the older ones, but if I have more it would be better for them to work on their own at their own rate.

    What I'm looking for is a resource which is designed to be "fun" (has games and perhaps pictures in amongst the work). I do have Theory Is Fun by Maureen Cox, and the spirit is right, but frankly the layout is just dreadful - not enough room to write a scale, for instance - and she has invented weird mnemonics for the lines and spaces (All Cats Enjoy Grieg, and Elephant George Beats Drum Fast, for heaven's sake).

    Some of the piano methods have nice theory books associated with them (Alfred for example) but they are too much related to the piano books and involve things like hand positions.

    I'd like them to be able to have something to show for it; we're in a deprived area and they mostly don't do external exams round here if they cost them, so I'd happily make tests and certificates myself.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. I'm playing with the idea of having a theory club after school - at least to road test the idea for one term. Has anyone ever done this, and what did you use?

    I want to invite anyone from years 3 to 6, at whatever level, so my resources have to be flexible. If I only had a few children I could well teach "in the open" and cover a topic, say, rests, with all of them, going into more detail with the older ones, but if I have more it would be better for them to work on their own at their own rate.

    What I'm looking for is a resource which is designed to be "fun" (has games and perhaps pictures in amongst the work). I do have Theory Is Fun by Maureen Cox, and the spirit is right, but frankly the layout is just dreadful - not enough room to write a scale, for instance - and she has invented weird mnemonics for the lines and spaces (All Cats Enjoy Grieg, and Elephant George Beats Drum Fast, for heaven's sake).

    Some of the piano methods have nice theory books associated with them (Alfred for example) but they are too much related to the piano books and involve things like hand positions.

    I'd like them to be able to have something to show for it; we're in a deprived area and they mostly don't do external exams round here if they cost them, so I'd happily make tests and certificates myself.

    Any suggestions?
     
  3. don't forget that the theory exams are a lot cheaper than practical, so it might be possible for them eventually to do an external exam?
    it sounds like you're looking for a book, but if you have the money, the daydream software would be worthwhile. i've used it for teaching theory to secondary pupils, and i think it would be fine for ks2. it's got loads of excellent stuff.
    good luck!
     
  4. Hi Gizzy,

    Hope you had a fab summer!

    I have a Theory Club and it works on the following basis:

    *Two hour 'drop-in' session one night a week - kids stay as long as they want - most get their work marked, have more set, try to do a bit until they're happy then go. Some stay the full two hours!
    *Each pupil pays for their own book (or I buy sometimes for kids who I know really can't afford it from my music 'slush fund' - money from parents for concerts etc) and I use a variety of books depending on the child:
    - some experience of notes, good literacy skills - Music Theory in Practice Grade 1 by Eric Taylor - the gold standard
    - good literacy skills, no experience - Theory Time Grade 1 by Turnbull
    - quite young, OK literacy, fairly intelligent - Theory Fun Factory
    - quite young, average ability - Theory is Fun
    - kids who really struggle - My First Theory Book
    *Kids who are quite musical and want to do an exam do a chapter in Theory Time (which explains how to do everything) and then the relevant pages in the Eric Taylor). I often use Josephine Koh's books for kids who need extra practice - they are great for this. So most of my kids usually have two workbooks, sometimes three! Once they have completed the Eric Taylor book for their Grade (the best and hardest), they then do as many practice papers as possible. If they are not taking the exam that term, then once they are consistently getting in the 90's for practice papers, they can move up a grade. You have to adapt it for each child really. This does work - last term I had 19 take exams - including 12 year 7 beginners doing Grade 1 - mixed ability and of the 12, 1 passed, 1 got a Merit and the other ten got distinctions, including two 100%'s! One of the distinctions doesn't learn an instrument at all and initially joined the club to be with her mates, then found she liked the challenges. They all did Grade 1 from the start to the exam in 1 term. As they were so enthusiastic, we had a lunchtime session as well. By the last couple of weeks before the exam, we were marking upwards of 8 papers a day! The kids bought past papers from us (in most cases) and dropped off papers for marking every day in some cases. The final week we also did a three hour Sunday stint to help - but even with two of us, it was hard doing them all!

    Hope this helps,

    Jo
     
  5. Angelil

    Angelil New commenter

    Just have to reiterate the praise for Eric Taylor's "Music Theory In Practice" - it is GREAT and doubt I would have got my Grade V Theory without it...
     
  6. However, it would be the kiss of death for a not very academic 8-year-old who doesn't even learn an instrument, I'm quite sure.

    Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone.

    I've decided to call it "Quiet Music Club"
     
  7. Thumbs up for Eric Taylor, plenty of examples and space to practise with simple explanations! Also a good resource I've come across recenty to enthuse my beginners is Musical Trixstar. It's a board game with plenty of variation.
     
  8. How about teaching Musicianship through singing using Kodaly methods. There is a great resource called Jolly Music, designed for younger children however even adults with no prior theory training can work with the material. There are great games for teaching pulse etc as well and the idea is to embed the theory in the inner voice securing pitches one at a time meaning that eventually children can take down a dictation and identify intervals from hearing them and seeing them. As an adult I have just completed the BKA elementary course and it was very challenging even though I did my grade 5 theory 16+ years ago and a music degree 12 years ago! The BKA and NYCOS have some other great books (NYCOS do a medal range as well).
     

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