For me, in my battle against the clock in piano lessons, music theory always lost. That was always difficult for me to understand, because I love music theory! Music theory instruction lost out to teaching repertoire, and improvisation, and technique, and scales, and, and….. There’s so much to cover in a lesson, and it’s all important! Compound this problem over a few years, and you may end up with a student who wants to do more with his/her music, but needs to catch up learning music theory. I saw it time and time again in the couple of years that I spent teaching Music Theory at Trinity University – there were students that were prepared for freshmen theory, and there were those that were lost and frustrated. I don’t know about you, but I want to be the teacher that has a prepared student, not a frustrated one.
Another problem that amplified over the years in my teaching was physical exhaustion from the sheer amount of time I spent preparing from lessons just to make sure each student was not only loving music, but staying on track with what they needed to learn. With music theory, I was preparing and teaching the same concepts over and over, trying to stay focused to remember if each one of my students had been taught the concepts they needed to know for their level. There had to be an easier way!