Thursday, August 5, 2010

Theory Mind

Back in this post I talked about Martin Gardiner's idea of multiple intelligences and mentioned my idea that "theory mind" is one type of musical intelligence. It can manifest in a left brain way as a natural understanding of the inherent structure of music along with the ability to use the sometimes very complex language that has arisen over the centuries to describe that structure. The right brain manifestation is naturally feeling the chord changes and the way all the pitches fit together vertically and horizontally, along with the ability to "get" complex rhythms right away.

The problem is how to present this information to those players for whom talk of music theory comes across as somewhere on a spectrum from scary to obtuse. I think one problem has been that most explanations of theory are written by people with theory mind, and they see the whole of it all at once, and for those of us who don't, the result can be nearly impenetrable. 

The challenge in creating appropriate learning materials is to choose the best few things to get across first so as to form one or two beachheads of understanding and then build out from there, always connecting the information to music the player is playing. Every piece of music in the player's book should have the basic structure of the piece laid out in as close as possible to everyday language, either nearby or in an accompanying book. 

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