Music Theory and Composition

 

 

What Is Music Theory?

Music theory is the study of the building blocks of music. A knowledge of theory is an essential tool for all musicians providing them with a common technical language and a means of understanding the organization of music.Private lessons are offered in theory and composition. See Getting Started

 

Theory Placement Exams (not for Theory in Motion students)

New students may register for Introductory Music Theory or Music Theory 1 without consulting any teacher.  See course description below. 

New students who wish to register for a theory class beyond Music Theory 1 should complete a Theory Placement Exam and give it to Margaret Henry in Messinger Hall, Room 221, or scan and email it to mahenry@esm.rochester.edu. Once the placement exam is evaluated, the new student will be assigned to an appropriate class.

 

Theory in Motion

Elementary School: 2 units
Instructors TBA
Saturdays at 8:50 a.m., 9:40 a.m., 10:30 a.m.

See Theory in Motion for details.

Tuition: $140 per semester; $129 or less per semester with lessons

 

Introductory Music Theory

Middle School; 4 units
Howard Spindler, Instructor
Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. (SECTION CANCELLED)
Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.

This is a Dalcroze-based class. Through movement and singing, we train the ear in coordination with the body. We learn rudiments of notation and conducting. Topics will include notation of pitches in the treble, bass and C clefs, major and minor scales and the diatonic modes; rhythmic notation in simple and compound meter, transposition, intervals and triads, and melodic composition. Recommended as a preparation to the high school level courses.   

Tuition: $280 per semester; $252 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Music Theory I: Theoretical Skills

High School; 4 units
Margaret Henry, Lynnann Wieringa, Instructors
Fridays at 5 p.m. or
Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. or
Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.

A course in theoretical rudiments for high school students. Topics will include notation of pitches in the treble, bass and C clefs, scales and modes, rhythmic notation in simple and compound meter, transposition, intervals, triads and four-note chords and an introduction to first species counterpoint, with correlated ear training. Class Details

Tuition: $280 per semester; $252 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Advanced Placement (AP) Theory

High School & Adults; 4 units each
Margaret Henry, Instructor

Advanced Placement (AP) Theory curriculum is a demanding course of study for high school students in grades 10-12 who wish to complete the equivalent of first-year college theory. Students are required to take two hours of class each week for two years. This program, designed by instructor Margaret Henry, has demonstrated its effectiveness in the extraordinarily high grades earned by our graduates in the standardized AP examinations

 

Music Theory II: AP Aural Skills

Wednesdays at 5 p.m. or
Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.

An intensive ear training course devoted to the development of aural skills through the performance of rhythmic patterns in simple and compound meter, sight singing using solfege, conducting exercises, recognition of intervals, triads, and inversions of triads as well as rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dictation. Prerequisite: Music Theory I or Introductory Music Theory A and B. Class Details

Tuition: $280 per semester; $252 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Music Theory III: AP Diatonic Harmony

Wednesdays at 6 p.m. or
Saturdays at 11:30 a.m.

Begins with an intensive study of Species Counterpoint leading to a study of the harmonic resources of the later 17th and 18th centuries, with an emphasis on the diatonic compositional practice from Bach through early Beethoven. Topics will include functional diatonic harmony, decorative (non-harmonic) tones and seventh chords, the Tonic-Predominant-Dominant-Tonic Phrase Model, including contrapuntal expansions and cadences. These skills will be developed through figured bass and melody harmonization in a four-part style and through analysis of a wide variety of literature. Prerequisite: Music Theory I or Introductory Music Theory A and B.   Class Details

Tuition: $280 per semester; $252 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Music Theory IV: AP Intermediate Aural Skills

Thursdays at 5 p.m.
Saturdays at 11:30 a.m.

Expands on the aural skills developed in AP Theory 1B including recognition of seventh chords and inversions and development of the ability to recognize the harmonic and formal resources studied in Music Theory II through aural identification in the literature, and melodic and harmonic dictation. Prerequisites: Music Theory II and III. Class Details

Tuition: $280 per semester; $252 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Music Theory V: AP Advanced Diatonic Harmony

Thursdays at 6 p.m.
Saturdays at 12:30 a.m.

Begins with a study of the formal procedures of the common practice period, including motivic, melodic and harmonic structure of the phrase, phrases in combination: the Period, Sentence Structure, the Double Period and the smaller forms: Binary and Ternary Form leading to a study of further harmonic resources of the common practice period, including applied chords, tonicization and pivot chord modulation. Emphasis in the final weeks of the course will be on preparation for the AP Examination in Music Theory. Prerequisites: Music Theory II and III. Class Details

Tuition: $280 per semester; $252 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Music Theory VI: Advanced Aural Skills

High School & Adults; 4 units
Margaret Henry, Instructor
Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m.

Advanced Aural Skills serves as the aural complement to MT VII: Chromatic Harmony and Form. Building on material introduced in MT IV: Intermediate Aural Skills, MT VI continues to prepare serious high school musicians for future college or conservatory study. Course units include pitch and rhythmic memory, clef reading (soprano, alto, tenor, bass and treble), basic keyboard skills, improvisation (scalar, ground bass, sentences and periods), harmonic and melodic dictation, aural phrase and sonata form analysis, transposition, and aural Roman numeral analysis. During each 90-minute class workshop, students will be introduced to numerous interactive activities which they will practice during the week. Additional homework in the form of recorded or in-class practicums will be assigned monthly, as well as several take-home dictations. Prerequisites: Music Theory IV and V

Tuition: $420 per semester; $370 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Music Theory VII: Chromatic Harmony

High School & Adults; 4 units
Margaret Henry, Instructor
Tuesdays at 6 p.m.

Begins with a review of Period Structure and Binary and Ternary Form leading to a study of the larger forms: Composite Ternary, Rondo and Sonata Forms in conjunction with a study of the harmonic resources of the later 18th and 19th centuries, with an emphasis on the chromatic compositional practice from Beethoven through Brahms, Topics will include mixture, chromatic predominants, chromatic modulation and the 19th century processes of musical ambiguity and harmonic symmetry. Prerequisites: Music Theory IV and V Class Details

Tuition: $420 per semester; $370 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Music Theory VIII: Counterpoint

High School & Adults; 4 units
Lynnann Wieringa, Instructor
Mondays at 7 p.m.

This course is an in-depth study of Counterpoint, and is divided into three parts: Strict Counterpoint, Modal Counterpoint, and Tonal Counterpoint. The student will do a number of compositions throughout the year, in addition to weekly contrapuntal exercises. Basic Counterpoint skills are an essential requirement for enrollment. Prerequisites: Music Theory VII  Class Details

Tuition:  FREE!

 

Theory Project

Half-hour private lesson; full year course.  Class Details
Tuition: same as lessons

 

Keyboard Theory for Pianists

High School & Adults; 4 units
Lynnann Wierenga, Instructor
Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.

This course is intended for piano students who are working toward an Advanced Diploma or Preparatory Diploma  The student will learn techniques of score reading, sight-reading, basic accompaniment, and learn music aurally at the keyboard. Prerequisite: Music Theory III and fluent keyboard technique.  Class Details

Tuition: $280 per semester; $252 or less per semester with lessons, plus materials fee.

 

Improvising Classical Music

High School & Adults; 4 units
Paul Hofmann, Instructor
Full year course. 
not offered 2016-17

Enjoy learning the rudiments and mechanics of creative improvisation and expression with other talented musicians, professionals and amateurs alike.  Each student’s exploration of the joys of creating new and inventive musical phrases is encouraged and validated.  For those whose playing ability is at least at an intermediate level.  Vocalists welcome!  Folk and classical styles the focus, with emphasis on Mozart. Twelve students maximum per class. No prior improvisation experience required.

Tuition: n/a