TTTV068: The Importance of Harmony with Tom Donald

teaching harmony

teaching harmony

Through his own musicianship and teaching, Tom Donald gradually came to realise that something was missing. There was a disconnect between what students wanted to learn and what teachers were teaching. Students were also coming out of lessons without a true comprehension of how music works.

Tom Donald at the piano

By teaching harmony first, students get a much richer understanding of music as a whole. They’re able to see inside all music whether it’s pop, jazz or classical. This also opens up students to the similarities between the different genres of music.

Teaching harmony and chord progressions to students gives them the skills to really dissect and approach all new pieces of music. No matter what type of music they want to play.

Find out how Tom approaches teaching, how his studio is structured and actionable steps you can use to incorporate more harmonic into your teaching today.


Please find a full transcript of this episode at the bottom of this page. Alternatively, click below to download a PDF. If you are an Inner Circle Member, you can find the full video and transcript in the Member Resources AreaNot a member? See below for how you can get $1o0 off your membership today. 

In this episode, you’ll learn

  • Why harmony is the “ultimate roadmap” of music
  • How teaching harmony first takes us back to true classical music roots
  • How to embrace students who are learning from YouTube
  • What Pachebel and The Beatles have in common
  • Why students should be singing pop melodies not playing them
  • The role of classical repertoire in Tom’s school
  • How Tom finds teachers that align with his philosophies

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Thank you for Tuning In!

There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen mine.

Being a full-time teacher myself, I know how busy teachers are and how much time, effort and passion we put into our students. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do in our time off is listen to more piano teaching stuff! So, well done for using this time for self-improvement.

Whether you’re at the gym, on the bike or in the car, I know that you and your students will get lots out of what you learn in the long run. Just make sure you try out some of the ideas before they get lost in the business of your next lessons.

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Full Transcript


What role does harmony take in your studio?

Do you agree that harmony should come first? What was your favourite part of Tom’s approach to teaching and business?

Which of Tom’s business tips resonated with you?

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