Music Theory

Music theory at the Community School of Performing Arts is a singing-based curriculum designed to enhance and support instrumental and vocal study through active engagement and kinesthetic exploration. From pre-reading exposure classes to 20th century atonality, music theory classes deepen understanding of the musical process and strengthen artistic expression and performance.

Music theory and Dalcroze classes are designed to be taken simultaneously or one at a time to accommodate each individual’s pace and progress. In the same way, upper level music theory classes are compatible with simultaneous compositional study as well as advanced Dalcroze Rhythmic Solfege study.

Music Theory Group Classes

Prior to enrollment, students complete an assessment test to determine which class(es) would be most appropriate. Evaluations are normally done in the fall, and enrollment is assumed to be a year-long commitment. At the end of the year, continuing students are reevaluated so that faculty can advise them on appropriate choices for further study.

Music Theory Assessment

Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

A course for students who were in Introduction to Music Theory previously and need a refresher course. Or, for those who wish to jump into a quick review on how to sing and write major scales, read treble and bass clefs, and clap basic rhythms with quarter, eighth, sixteenth and dotted notes. The class will progress at a quicker pace than the regular Introduction to Music Theory year-long class to enable students to progress into a higher level of theory for Fall 2022.

Ages 5 and up. No prior musical experience necessary. An interactive and playful musical exploration of basic music theory and singing. Students will learn t o write and read basic musical notation, solfege, and be able to interpret simple rhythmic notations. This class is ideal for students who have just begun instrumental instruction or will be starting an instrument soon.

This class allows students to gain a firm grasp of the core skills of ear training, sight singing, and rhythmic concepts. Students use this knowledge to expand their appreciation and analysis of music, and elevate their performance abilities. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

This curriculum is designed to introduce basic components of music. Students learn major and minor scales, intervals, and triads. They also expand their ear training with aural recognition of the concepts studied in written theory. Students begin working on sight singing using solfege. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

This curriculum is designed to introduce basic components of music. Students learn major and minor scales, intervals, and triads. They also expand their ear training with aural recognition of the concepts studied in written theory. Students begin working on sight singing using solfege. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Making sure students progress in their understanding of music and playing skills is key to our curriculum development. To keep them moving forward, this class furthers students sight singing and dictation. New materials focus on seventh chords and their inversions as well as functional harmony and classification of common non-harmonic tones. Placement test is required prior to enrolling.Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Students in this class are ready to tackle more complex elements. Instruction incorporates diatonic harmony, functional analysis, and recognition of all non-harmonic tones. They’ll also learn about four-part harmony and analysis of simple Bach chorales. They’ll continue progressing in simple binary and ternary forms and concomitant ear training. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Nonharmonic tones and 4 part writing is introduced. Secondary functions, modulation, Neopolitan chords and augmented sixth chords are analyzed, sung and written. Harmonic and melodic practice and dictation using fixed solfege of the subjects combined with progressively complex rhythmic patterns. Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Once students have a firm understanding of diatonic harmony and elementary chromatic harmony, they’re ready to explore music theory at a deeper level. Class instruction centers around Neapolitan 6th chord, the augmented 6th chord, and altered chords. Teachers also discuss modulation to distant keys and enharmonic modulation. Students analytical skills are challenged with larger forms, such as sonata, theme and variations, and rondo and sonata-rondo form. Placement test is required prior to enrolling.  Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

Moduation using procedures other than common-chord procedures. Phrase analysis, binary, rouded binary, ternary, sonata form. Enharmonic notation, modulation and analysis. Advanced Neopolitan and augmented sixth chords. Introduction to atonality. Sightsinging, composition, and dictation involving the above, including appropriate rhythmic practice. Placement test required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu. 

Click here for Placement Test

Dalcroze

The Dalcroze philosophy relies on solfege, eurhythmics, and improvisation which lay the foundation for students serious about instrumental and vocal study. Class activities include vocal awareness, ear training, and sight-singing as well as rhythmic movement. Improvisational works unlock students’ innate musicality and develop musical security while a kinetic approach builds up “muscle memory”, a trait key to the spontaneous musician. Students’ own discovery in music brings joyful and powerful musicianship.

Dalcroze Placement

In-person assessments are required for younger students between the age of five and seven to determine readiness for Dalcroze Eurhythmics/Beginning Musicianship class as well as placement into Dalcroze II, III, or IV.

Please contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu to schedule an assessment.

Ideal for young students ages 5 – 7 years old who are just beginning to learn an instrument. New students, please contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu for an assessment prior to enrolling.

This class is for students to learn beginning musical concepts through a variety of kinetic activities with parents. The Dalcroze approach encourages students’ spontaneity and attentiveness. We train our whole body to respond to specific musical subjects including, but not limited to beat, subdivision, rests, phrase, simple and compound meter. Songs will be used as musical examples. One parent must participate with a student.

In this introductory Rhythmic Solfege, fixed “Do” syllables are used to indicate pitch, and numbers are used to indicate function. Furthermore, students explore simple vocal improvisation in order to develop a keen sense of pitch. The following subjects include, but are not limited to diatonic scales, triads, measure shape, and syncopation. Specific examples will be taken from musical literature.

Students may need to be assessed to ensure readiness for class, contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling or discuss options with Ms. Sawada to continue in Elementary Music Theory IA. 

This class is designed to focus on “Rhythmic Solfege” – the study of inner hearing. Students will deepen their musicianship through Dalcroze solfege, rhythmic movement. Furthermore, the class focuses on vocal/instrumental improvisation based on materials learned in class. Advanced topics include augmentation/diminution, complementary rhythm, unequal beats, modes, and the pentatonic scale.

Students need access to the piano or their musical instrument for ear training and improvisation.

Students may need to be assessed to ensure readiness for class, contact Mari Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling or discuss options with Ms. Sawada to continue in Elementary Music Theory II. 

This class is specifically designed for Community School Suzuki string students to develop musical awareness through experience-based activities. Students gain active listening skills, rhythmic vitality, and a keen sense of pitch as well as coordination. Over the course of study, students internalize music which promotes confident and accurate music learning experiences. Specific examples will be taken from musical literature including the Suzuki repertoire. One parent must accompany a student.

This section is for students that have already taken at least one semester of Dalcroze for Suzuki. For more information, please contact Ms. Izumi at mizumi@colburnschool.edu

Dalcroze methods engage students in interactive dynamic learning experiences that can help them develop analytical listening skills and open them up to their own innate musicality. This series of progressive lessons will enable participants to experience Dalcroze methods directly and show how they may apply these methods in their own teaching. Each session will feature a 70-minute session exploration of Dalcroze Rhythmic Solfege and a twenty-minute Q&A session. Designed specifically for music educators regardless of their prior exposure to Dalcroze methods.

Composition

Composition lessons provide students with an outlet to explore their knowledge of music and create works of their own. These lessons are available to students who have completed the Intermediate II level of Music Theory, or its equivalent. Students work one-on-one with our accomplished faculty and have opportunities to share their work in studio classes and with Colburn ensembles.

Trombonist Elijah Alexander
I want to be able to effectively match my compositional voice with my technical voice on the trombone. Colburn has helped me with this especially, with the teachers helping me on gaining a stronger understanding of what I need to work on and what directions I should head in. Trombonist Elijah Alexander

Composition students at the Community School of Performing Arts have been recognized for their achievements, including being accepted to the Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Designed for beginning composers to develop the skills and methodologies to pursue writing music. The course will commence with short composition assignments and build up to include opportunities to compose short pieces for solo and small chamber ensemble. Students will be exposed to different composers’ aesthetics and approaches as a means of expanding their own compositional toolboxes. Classes will include presentations, masterclass-like discussions of student projects, and guest composers and/or performers.

Pre-requisite: Intermediate Theory I or instructor’s approval required prior to enrollment.

Private Lessons

To study composition with a private teacher, submit an inquiry form.