Embracing “the Teachable Moment”: Creative Warm-Ups, Pre-Teaching, and Their Role in the Music Theory Curriculum

Amy Lynne Engelsdorfer

One of the most common problems that music theory instructors seem to share is the lack of time to cover as many topics as they would like in a given class period. This lack can be from any number of causes, from theory coursework reinforcing related coursework such as keyboard skills and ear training, to acquainting students with foundational concepts of music theory and history, the technical, historical, and cultural foundations of our art.

While no single approach can remedy this problem of time, I have developed various activities that utilize small pockets of typically unused time, and engage students from the moment they enter the room. I call these techniques and activities “preteaching.” As I will demonstrate, preteaching activities not only set a positive and engaging tone for the class, but they can enhance the entire music curriculum. As a result, instruction is not only more efficient, it extends across areas of music study, developing the whole musician.