Does your student love learning music theory? So many students think of learning music theory as completing worksheets, memorizing facts, or playing scales, arpeggios… it’s just too dry and boring!
Far from being dry and boring though, music theory has always been fascinating to me. For me, it unlocked the key to truly understanding how music works. I remember vividly that as a child, I wanted so badly to know why certain notes or chords sounded good together and why the composers chose the combination of notes to create the different mood in the music. I wasn’t satisfied with just playing the notes on the page. I wanted to know why music was put together a certain way.
Because of my passion for music theory, I was always looking for ways to help other students learn music theory in more creative and musical ways. After a lot of searching, I finally found a book I would like to share that brings music theory to life.
And the book is…
Modules by Paul Sheftel
Modules features 36 compositions that aim to teach students scales, intervals and triads in a musical and logical way. Paul’s compositions in Modules were recognized nationwide and had won the Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy Award in 2017.
One of my favorite pieces in the book is “TANGO.” The whole piece is constructed from only two chords, Bb Major and B Major. It amazes and inspires me that Paul is able to achieve the feel of the lively dance by using just two chords in root-position! It’s easily accessible for beginner students who are learning 5-fnger patterns, and is also great for teachers to drill the chord by turning the piece into a duet – students play the left hand part and the teacher plays the right hand melody.
Another piece called “OLE” is the companion for “TANGO.” OLE was also written with two chords only, Bb and B Major. Unlike TANGO though, OLE features the chords in 1st inversion. Because the piece is highly patterned, it’s fun and easy for the students to learn. One of my students said: “When I first glanced at the music, I thought that the piece would be VERY HARD, but it was actually quite EASY to learn, sounded amazing and learning the beautiful piece gave me lots of confidence. I feel so proud!”
Other than chords, Paul introduced intervals in a fun and musical way. Consider this question before you read further:
“If your students were asked to identify and play ALL major 6th intervals on the piano, can they do it with ease?”
Well…after playing Paul Sheftel’s piece “The Sixth Sheik’s Sixth Sheep’s Sick,” it will be a piece of cake to find ALL major 6th interval.
In fact, after learning most pieces in Modules, the students will be able to
- Find and play ALL major, minor and perfect intervals
- Play and find ALL major triads in root, 1st and 2nd inversion
- See and play ALL major scales in a new light
As you can see, Paul has an amazing ability to relate keyboard patterns to theory. He cleverly weaves those black and white key patterns into charming pieces of music.
The musical and logical ways Paul presented the scales, chords and intervals help students connect the EYES with the HANDS and the MIND. It’s very important to develop this EYE-HAND-MIND connection. Imagine that after playing “The Sixth Sheik’s Sixth Sheep’s Sick,” your student will be able to understand interval patterns in their mind (the black-white key configurations), feel the interval kinesthetically in their HANDs, and see the shape of the interval both on the score and on the keys with their EYES.
What to hear what these pieces sound like? Make sure you watch this 2-minute video. I recorded the video to show you my favorite pieces from Modules.
As I mentioned in the video, SuperScore is a great app that features music by lots of famous composers. You can view, manage, and interact with library of musical scores. SuperScore provides virtually unlimited notation sizes with Liquid Music Display™ technology. You can explore Paul’s music and many other classics by various composers all inside this app.
Here is what the SuperScore looks like:
SuperScore have a winter sale going on now until Jan 15, 2018. It’s a great time to stock up on your favorite music!
Go check out this award-winning book. Paul was recognized by MTNA for his significant contribution to the pedagogy world because of this book. MTNA awarded only one person in the entire nation annually. Clearly it shows how important and wonderful this book is!
**This is the first blog that features my favorite books or teaching tools. I only write and share what I love using in my studio with my students and I am not getting paid for writing the post.