I have recently acquired a music theory student, who is also an advanced pianist preparing for a high level exam. What I am discovering is the student, although a very solid theory student, has little concept of music harmony in context. Further, this student has difficulty aurally identifying a I, IV, V progression, something most if not all practical piano students student should recognise or at least be familiar with, by the time they have reached Gr8 standard.
What has gone before in prior music lessons in relation to harmony and aural skills I do not know, although I am beginning to get a clearer picture. This student is by no means “tone deaf”, however we have some work to do.
I take the view that music theory is not silent book-work with weekly homework set for completion by next lesson. Seeing, hearing and playing is the key to reach a more complete understanding. Linking as much as possible to examples within appropriate repertoire is also important. It takes knowledge, planning and preparation. Preparing students for any exam is a big task. There is a lot on the line, not only for the student but almost certainly for the teacher as well. The time spent is well worth it.