Incorporating regular theory work into my weekly lessons was something a little foreign to me in my earlier days. I just didn’t see where to find the time. Books that I tried to use were never really relevant to the elementary material my students were all working on. Games and activities didn’t seem to stick with them if they had to pass a test either. Last year I was in despair over my students’ theory scores on their SATs.
This year, however, I have found what is for me the perfect resource! Lina Ng’s theory course, found here at JW Pepper: http://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/search.jsp?keywords=lina+ng+theory
These books are leveled perfectly for elementary piano and go along very well with the Piano Adventure and Succeeding at the Piano methods. They have stickers and fun activities and great illustrations that students love. I am also very impressed with the pedagogic methods Ng uses. She teaches note values and pitches by association, reasoning, and interesting repetitions. It is never a lecture-style, “Here is a quarter note. It has one beat”, method of teaching. Students discover the learning objective themselves through the activity. I now purchase her Theory Made Easy for Kids for every beginner age 4 – 6. For beginners ages 7 and up, I use My First Theory Book. Using these books, I don’t actually need to use a primer for students who start when they are in 2nd grade. I can begin with Piano Adventures Level 1 quite easily, if I emphasize intervallic reading and do the first few lessons completely with theory and general reading exercises. By the time they finish the 3rd Theory book, they are spelling scales and key signatures and doing 6/8 time (roughly SAT Level 2).
I always keep the theory books at the studio and we spend about 10 minutes of the lesson working together on a page or two. My lessons typically are 40 minutes, so 10 minutes on theory is not too much for me to include. FYI, Marshall Music keeps all of these in stock! I think they became tired of me constantly ordering them :)