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Since my time as an undergrad music education major, I've believed strongly that, when teaching (most) music theoretical topics, the experience must come before the label/definition/technicalities. I know very well that this belief is not unique to me. To start a lesson on the Neapolitan chord, the approach is for the class to first encounter that chord in real piece of music, dissect its function within the phrase, its expressive effect, its voice leading, etc. THEN apply a name to it, define it clearly, and define its typical voice leading. Discovery learning; experience-first learning; pick your favorite term.
In the last couple of years (admittedly small sample size, and casual observation only), I've noticed that many of my students seem to respond less well to this approach. Blank stares through the initial example(s), attempts to generalize immediately, and then a sometimes-audible sigh of relief when the nuts-and-bolts are revealed.
I'm wondering if any others have experienced this, or if I've just had a couple groups of students who prefer a different approach. If others have experienced this, I'm curious about two things: (1) If you think this is part of a larger trend, which might necessitate a philosophical change on my part, and (2) why you think this is happening? I'm hesitant to draw a connection, but this seems similar to the "anything can be learned/taught through a five-minute YouTube video" idea that seems pretty common these days.
Thanks for any thoughts you might have!