Exploring a Chopin Nocturne with a theoretical awareness

This week I mass-emailed a note to my brood about the need to take a reputable theory course side-by-side with private piano lessons. Because the teaching hour is packed with technique, new repertoire, review, memorization, a need to deepen knowledge in the universe of theory/harmony and ear-training is a must.

By example, I tried my best to give a pupil an overview of harmonic progressions in Chopin’s Nocturne in E minor, Op. 72 as an aid to interpretation and phrase-shaping, but I knew he could go further by setting aside quality time to advance through a theory cosmos in graduated steps. (not being glued to a workbook with gads of written exercises)

One program (with CDs) came highly recommended:

relative-pitch-level1

What pleased me was its integration of ear-training with solid lessons in harmony, counterpoint, rhythm, etc.

Here’s the rundown: (in part)

LESSON 1

1 Part 1: Introductory Talk / 2 Part 2 (1:03) / 3 About the Course (4:20) / 4 The Importance of Musical Spelling (3:15) / 5 The Chromatic Scale (1:08) / 6 Half Steps and Whole Steps (1:16) / 7 Perfect Fifths (7:47) / 8 Introduction to theGrand Round Ear-Opening Technique (and Musical Spelling) (10:16) / 9 Homework (2:56)
LESSON 2
2 Correct Spellings: Perfect Fifths (6:48) / 3 The Grand Round Ear-Opening Technique (to be practiced for remainder of the Course) (12:21); 4 Enharmonic Spellings (18:40) / 5The Sound Round Technique (1:48) / 6 The Random Round Technique (3:29) / 7 Warm-up Drill for Tests (:57)
LESSON 3
2 How Testing Works (5:43) / 3 Spelling Test: Perfect Fifths (8:16) / 4 More Procedures (7:39) / 5 Sound Test: Perfect Fifths (Singing) (14:20) / 6 Perfect Fourths (4:01) / 7 Correct Spellings: Perfect Fourths (3:48)
LESSON 4
2 Spelling Test: Perfect Fourths (8:46) / 3 Sound Test: Perfect Fourths (13:14) / 4 Perfect Unisons and Perfect Octaves (6:00) / 5 Unlocking Technique (to be practiced for remainder of the Course) (4:47) / 6 Melodic and Harmonic Intervals (1:24) / 7 Major Thirds (2:34) / 8 Correct Spellings: Major Thirds (also: Double Sharps, Double Flats) (7:40)
LESSON 5
2 Spelling Test: Major Thirds (9:21) / 3 Sound Test: Major Thirds (13:26) / 4 Speed Recognition: Drilling Procedures (6:01) / 5 Lightning Round: Mixed Melodic P4 and P5 (3:42) / 6 Speed Recognition of Tones (2:05) / 7 Lightning Round: Mixed Harmonic P4, P5, and Perfect Octaves (5:43) / 8 Minor Thirds (1:03) / 9 Correct Spellings: Minor Thirds (2:57)
LESSON 6
2 Spelling Test: Minor Thirds (7:32) / 3 Sound Test: Minor Thirds (11:09) / 4 Major and Minor Chords (4:13); 5Arpeggios (:41) / 6 Lightning Rounds: Major and Minor Arpeggios (3:55); 7 Chords (4:13) / 8 Listening Technique (1:10) / 9 Lightning Round: Mixed Major and Minor Arpeggios and Chords (2:35) / 10 Homework (1:40) / 11 Puzzle Drill (also: Chord Roots) (6:55)
LESSON 7
2 Spelling Test: Major and Minor Chords (13:14) / 3 Sound Test: Major and Minor Arpeggios (12:21) / 4 Major and Minor: The Basic Structures of Music (1:16) / 5 Notation of Intervals and Chords (1:51) / 6 Exam Preparation (1:22) / 7 Lightning Round: Mixed P4, P5, Perfect Octaves, and Perfect Unisons (with Instructions for Speed Recognition of Tones) (13:56)
LESSON 8
2 Speed Recognition of Tones (2:28) / 3 Lightning Rounds: Melodic Thirds (4:54) / 4 Harmonic Thirds (2:19) / 5 Mixed Thirds (4:35) / 6 Tertian, Quartal, and Quintal Harmony(2:17) / 7 Relative Pitch Identification Drill (12:44) / 8 Singing Drill (3:48) / 9 More Drilling Procedures (:50) / 10 Lightning Round: P5, P4, M3, m3, Perfect Octaves, and Perfect Unisons (8:54) / 11 More Drilling Procedures (1:14)
LESSON 9
2 Exam Procedures (3:35) / 3 Level One Exam, Section 1: Spelling Test (5:04) / 4 Section 2: Relative Pitch Identification (7:15) / 5 Section 3: Interval Singing (6:14) / 6 Section 4: Lightning Round (7:09) / 7 Section 5: Synthesizer Lightning Round: Part 1 (5:46) / 8 Part 2 (3:56) / 9 More Exam Procedures (:47) / 10 Conclusion of Level One (3:35) / 11 Bonus Session: RELATIVE PITCH POWER POINTS / 12 Listen to these Power Points at any time you need support.

Relative Pitch LEVEL ONE
Nine Audio CDs

LESSON 10
2 Inversions of Major and Minor Chords and Arpeggios(Triads: Root Position, First Inversion, Second Inversion) (3:20) / 3 Drill: Melodic Inversions (4:15) / 4 Listening Technique: Inversions (3:38) / 5 Drill: Harmonic Major Inversions — Top Listening (3:21) / 6 Bottom Listening (3:37) / 7 Drill: Mixed Major Inversions (6:43) / 8 Drill: Minor Inversions (5:29) / 9 Listening Technique (1:44) / 10 Drill: Mixed Major and Minor Inversions (8:46) / 11 Listening Technique and Major Seconds (1:30) / 12 Correct Spellings:Major Seconds (1:45)
LESSON 11
2 Miscellaneous (1:41) / 3 Spelling Test: Major Seconds (4:04) / 4 Sound Test: Major Seconds (6:06) / 5 Whole Tone Scale (1:27) / 6 Lightning Round: Mixed P5, P4, M3, m3, M2, Perfect Octaves, and Perfect Unisons (3:30) / 7 Dissonance and Consonance (1:40) / 8 Lightning Round: Mixed Inversions (6:15) / 9 Listening Technique: Inversions (3:24) / 10 Drill: Inversions (6:37) / 11 Drill: Major and Minor Inversions (4:55) / 12 Listening Technique (1:36) / 13 Minor Seconds (:51) / 14 Correct Spellings: Minor Seconds (2:08)
LESSON 12
2 Spelling Test: Minor Seconds (4:35) / 3 Sound Test: Minor Seconds (6:09) / 4 Lightning Round: Melodic Seconds (7:26) / 5 Listening Technique (1:32) / 6 Lightning Round: Harmonic Seconds (3:33) / 7 Listening Technique (1:11) / 8 Lightning Round: Mixed P5, P4, M3, m3, M2, m2, Perfect Octaves, and Perfect Unisons (6:12) / 9 Drill Instructions: Harmonic Inversions (1:23) / 10 Drill: Harmonic Inversions (10:52) / 11 Major Sixths (:09) / 12 Correct Spellings: Major Sixths(1:11)
LESSON 13
2 Listening Technique (Sound Association) (3:52) / 3 Spelling Test: Major Sixths (5:28) / 4 Sound Test: Major Sixths (8:27) / 5 Lightning Round: P5, P4, M3, m3, M2, m2, M6, Perfect Octaves, and Perfect Unisons (7:30) / 6 Double Lightning Round (2:55) / 7 Listening Technique (1:27) / 8 Drill: Melodic Inversions (11:14) / 9 Drilling Technique (1:06) / 10 Minor Sixths (:19) / 11 Correct Spellings: Minor Sixths (1:53)
LESSON 14
2 Spelling Test: Minor Sixths (5:49) / 3 Sound Test: Minor Sixths (8:43) / 4 The Influence of Sound (3:37) / 5 Lightning Round: Sixths (9:43) / 6 Aural Illusions (1:54) / 7 Drill: Inversions (7:13) / 8 Note for Musicians with Perfect Pitch (1:16) / 9 Augmented Fifth Chords (Sharp Five Chords)(4:20) / 10 Correct Spellings: Sharp Five Chords

etc.

Two of my students who are immersed in this program are beginning to understand the harmonic framing of their music as wedded to attentive listening. They’re developing interval sensitivity and have improved their sight-reading/learning skills.

I’m convinced that some kind of program in theory that is not exclusively book bound but wedded to developing aural and written skills is probably the best route to expand musical development.

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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