Students don?t hit music theory till grade 5, which correlates to 8th grade in school terms, about the same time math students hit algebra.
I wasn?t making things up. I actually was aware of all this and almost included a reference to ABRSM in one of my posts, but didn?t want to get off on a tangent. To be honest, I was not expecting you to say that these were bad performances by those kids. That floored me. I?ll give you some links to pertinent material, but if you really want to get deep, search for kids posting about the exams at the various grades. Grade 5 seems to be a turning point.
ABRSM encourages the development of the all-round musician from the earliest stages of learning. We believe that good foundations in performance and theory create confident musicians and as a student progresses, the development of connections between musical skills, knowledge and understanding becomes increasingly important, and is essential to deeper appreciation of how music works.
We believe that such an appreciation is fundamental to effective musical communication in all its forms, enhancing musical awareness, sensitivity and control in performance. Grade 5 in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or Jazz encompasses essential aspects of musical learning that prepare candidates for solid, sustainable success in practical exams at Grades 6, 7 and 8, as well as laying lifelong foundations for their future as musicians.
Everyone (who plays piano) knows that hitting the right keys is one thing, but timing and dynamics is what makes it into music. I wasn?t disagreeing with that. Just with the notion that we could possibly teach it first or that we should even try.
Btw. I was thinking about your physics example. Recently I have engaged my son more in amateur astronomy (I?ve had a series of respectable setups over the years). And part of that has been teaching him about celestial coordinate systems and optics. I found that you can cover quite a bit viscerally. He understands why and in what direction the celestial sphere appears to rotate and how the GEM mount works and why polar alignment is crucial for imaging. All of this is made easier to get across because we are actually immersed in the phenomenon, outside at the scope or in my office processing images. He knows why the stars leave trails if the alignment is off and how guiding fixes that. And he knows how a series of short images combined can accomplished the same thing. In fact, he sees how and why the signal to noise ratio becomes larger when we do it because he can see the randomness of the noise versus the non randomness of the stars and how when stacked, the stars align whil! e the noise does not. I mean he can actually see it happen as the software iterates through the images and the final image becomes progressively cleaner. We have also done a lot with optics, and he understands that the lens does more than just gather light. Again, with actual lenses and equipment available, he realizes that the light heading off of each point on the object being imaged must be focused to a corresponding point in the image itself. Which is why simply trying to use a cardboard tube as a telescope won?t work. And he can stretch that to why a pinhole actually does work and why the resulting image, though an actual image, is so dim. What he can?t cope with yet is putting all of that into a theory and applying mathematics to it throughout (which also helps pull all of that into a theory). But that is all valuable visceral knowledge to have available when he does get more sophisticated upstairs.
This came up in another forum, but from a slightly different angle. The topic was electric circuits and using the analogy of water and pipes and pressure. The question was, what if the student isn?t familiar with water and pipes and pressure? I am not saying a kid with no running water, just a kid that never gave any of that a second thought. Probably the majority of kids, no? In any event, that idea stuck with me and that was crucial to my success in physics and in math. Very crucial. When the teacher writes on the board ?If x = y then x - a = y - a? would you rather be the student that says to himself ?Duh!? or the student that makes a note in his notebook? And having the second student make the note in his notebook in 3rd grade doesn?t help. Doing arithmetic and pointing it out at appropriate times helps.
I have been calling all of this visceral knowledge and I still like the word but another term might be awareness of details. I am all for priming students with awareness of details. But the trick is to get them to start doing it themselves.