What Goes On in the Theory Lab?
The first hour of our students’ lessons is relatively conventional—they sit down in front of the piano with a teacher, study pieces, and learn about musical playing. However, another equally important part of their lessons is their time in the Theory Lab.
We know that the study of music theory, or how music is created, is critical to the students’ success as musicians; playing music without understanding music theory is like speaking a language without knowing how to read, spell, or use grammar properly. That’s why, for the last thirty minutes of their lessons, students go to the Theory Lab and follow a specific schedule filled with games and activities that are both fun and educational.
The students begin by getting their Theory Lab binders from the shelves and taking out their workbooks. These workbooks include theory lessons appropriate for each student’s abilities, as well as exercises to help the students practice what they’re learning.
After completing a page or two of their workbooks, the students get to choose from a long list of activities, including:
- Composer of the Month: Students work on crossword puzzles, word searches, and fill-in-the-blanks with information about different composers.
- iPad and computer games: We have three iPads and multiple computers hooked up to digital pianos, so students have access to educational games and apps. Most of the games quiz them on sight reading, ear training, rhythm, and recognizing note names and note values.
- Flashcards: We use both digitized and physical copies of the AIM flashcards.
- Composition exercises: We have computer programs and workbooks dedicated to helping students learn more about how to both compose and notate their own music.
Not only is the Theory Lab an educational supplement, but it also gives the students the chance to earn prizes! If the students complete a certain number of activities, they get to pick a small candy bar from the Grab Bag. They can also complete activities to earn small candies from the Extra Credit basket.
All of these activities and games give students the chance to reinforce the fundamental principles of music and, most importantly, have fun!