Walls are re-painted. Most stuff on the walls has been stashed away. Music has been sorted, culled, and given away. Time to tackle the paper.
And ditch the guilt.
The plethora of music theory resources – so much of it so attractive – has led to an impressive, well-organized collection of papers in binders that I don’t actually even look at, let alone use. For the last few years I’ve made a half-hearted attempt to assign written work to students – buying what the pedagogues have told us about reinforcing concepts on paper. Moving to a student binder system invited all sorts of hand-outs, and I diligently chose and printed off appropriate stuff for all the beginner and elementary students, filed neatly and in order in the Theory section of the binder.
It’s been a losing battle every year, especially with the boys. Manipulatives are much more appealing and effective – the Note-Finder, the Pianotekneek Notebox, and any little games that get them off the bench and using their bodies. Even with the girls it is, frankly, a pain to try to force the written work. This feels heretical (Elissa Milne is so much better at writing heretical posts than I am!). Kudos to the teachers who are successful with this. I’m not disputing the value – just saying it’s not really working for me. I tend to incorporate all this kind of work directly with and on the music in front of our faces, or I grab a piece of blank manuscript paper and just do what we need to right there and then.
In our Canadian exam systems written exams are not required until the Intermediate level, and that has traditionally been the most popular time here to start Theory. At that point I pull out some of the attractive worksheets that are online, to add to the fun factor of theory.
There are a few hand-outs I use a lot – Anne Crosby’s Barnyard Friends sheets which are paired with adorable Youtube videos, the Circle of Fifths created by Susan Paradis, flashcards, and various note-naming sheets but used with the Crayola DryErase Activity Center. Amazingly, markers are still way more appealing than pencils! (Thanks to Anne Crosby for this idea). Many of these ideas are great for classes – another post.
Because I know that you’re dying to know the answer to this one by now, no, I don’t use the accompanying theory books that are part of any method.
There are a few more hand-outs that I couldn’t teach without – stay tuned.