Improvising Requires Theory Knowledge

I was adding a upper/lower neighbouring note to a quarter note. As I wanted those two notes to take up a quarter note beat, both notes had to be eighth notes. I was sightreading the rhythm and mentally adding neighbouring notes left, right and center.

I do the above rather easily as I’m a piano teacher. But I was thinking – how easy would this be for my younger students who I have taught mostly by rote and ear? How do I explain to them that when an upper/lower neighbouring note is added to a quarter note, you play two eighth notes? Or equally, when a neighbouring note is added to a half note, each note becomes a quarter note.

I’m sure I could explain to them verbally what needs to be done. But I do wonder if it is so much easier if I could write it out for them. This is where music theory is a language which enables communication among musicians.

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