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Theory for young pianists

2 months ago

Karen Marshall

Karen Marshall is a private, peri and classroom music teacher from York.

To a new piano student, theory opens up a new world of language and from staves to key signatures, there’s a vast amount to absorb and understand. It’s not an easy thing to do and whilst teachers have the luxury of vast theoretical knowledge and familiarity, it is easy to forget what it was like to start at the beginning. So how can we help young pianists grasp these difficult concepts sooner rather than later? In ABRSM’s new Piano Star Theory book, Kathy and David Blackwell address the challenges young pianists face when first encountering theory.

Piano Star Theory provides solutions to some very common theory challenges for the beginner pianist. This special little book uses activities to demonstrate a range of creative strategies for children. These activities help young learners consolidate their music learning and provide a way for teachers to assess their students’ understanding in the areas of Rhythm, Pitch, Dynamics and Articulation.

Piano Star Theory supports any piano method and will consolidate learning to make successful music making easier. There are also some fun theory activities that can be used immediately within lessons.

The difference between pulse and rhythm

To understand the different note values, children need to have an underlying grasp of pulse as a steady beat and rhythm containing different note lengths.

Piano Star Theory addresses this foundational principle with the use of clapping activities. In the book, the beat is illustrated underneath the rhythm by a small drum. The rhythms start sensibly crotchet beats before progressing to dotted minims and quavers. The rhythm grids in Piano Star Theory are sized appropriately to helpfully show the length of the notes in relation to one another. Drawing note values, answering questions about them and also simple note value addition all help to consolidate understanding and activities for all of these are included within the pages of Piano Star Theory!

If you’re wondering how you can incorporate some of these techniques into your lesson you could try this activity: 

Support your student to compose their own rhythm using crotchets and minims and drawing the pulse underneath. It’s a great way to see how much they understand.

 

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