The study of music theory is vital if pupils are to progress with understanding.
At first, music theory study is incorporated into weekly instrumental lessons - though my younger pupils probably don't realise that! Young students learn to read music through creative and enjoyable activities.
As they progress, most students enjoy working through appropriate workbooks, chosen to appeal to each child. At grades 1 - 4, it's not necessary to take formal examinations (although I will enter pupils for theory exams if they would like me to), though students work through past papers to ensure their level of understanding is adequate. On the whole, I teach to the ABRSM theory syllabus.
From grade 5, students are taught in small groups where possible. A pass in Grade 5 theory (or Practical Musicianship) is a prerequisite for those wishing to enter ABRSM exams at grade 5 or above, but the value of studying theory goes far beyond the necessity of passing this exam - students develop an understanding of how music and sound work.
Music history and style is explored and the instruments of the orchestra are learned about. Students have the opportunity to experience an orchestra first hand, and to talk with orchestral musicians at my Orchestral Workshops. Working in groups gives the opportunity to play games and discuss ideas to reinforce knowledge.
For students working on advanced music theory (grades 6-8), time and dedication are needed, but the rewards are immeasurable! Advanced students learn about harmony and how chords work together; they study orchestral scores and delve into the worlds and works of the great composers; they learn how to compose their own music and how to write for different musical instruments.