Music Theory

The core to any music educational program is music theory. The Community School faculty incorporates elements of theory into all lesson plans. Beginning students learn to read pitches and rhythm. As students become more sophisticated in their musicianship, they delve deeper into music theory such as complex analysis of ultra-chromatic harmony of the 19th century.

To make the most of individuals’ existing musical knowledge, new students are evaluated for proper placement. Evaluations usually take place in the fall, based on a year-long commitment. At the end of the year, continuing students are reevaluated so faculty can advise them on which classes to sign up for in the coming year.

Music Theory Placement

Prior to enrollment in theory classes, students are evaluated to assess their level of knowledge. Evaluations are normally done in the fall, and enrollment is assumed to be a year-long commitment. All students must complete a Music Theory Placement Evaluation prior to enrollment. Download the Music Theory Placement Evaluation and email the completed evaluation to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

This year-long 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.

Elementary Music Theory focuses on establishing the building blocks for understanding music. The curriculum starts with major and minor keys, key signatures, scale degrees, and intervals, followed by functional analysis of triads and seventh chords. Simple and compound meter are incorporated along with alto and tenor clef. Students engage weekly with the material through sight singing, solfege, and dictation exercises.

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.

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.

Individualized instruction with our experienced faculty is available for students at various levels. In order to assign incoming students to the instructor who will best match their needs, we require a Music Theory Placement Evaluation.

 

Dalcroze

Dalcroze classes offer students dynamic music learning experiences. Students train their whole bodies to respond to specific musical subjects. Music is the center of the class activities and intellectual analysis follows after interactive experiences. 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.

Beginning Musicianship is a creative and joyful approach to introductory musical concepts including the musical alphabet, the steps of a major scale, and basic music notation. This interactive approach helps to familiarize students with the fundamental musical building blocks through body action and singing. This class is designed to prepare students for, and enhance their first years of instrumental training.

Dalcroze I (Eurhythmics) requires strong cognitive function which cultivates the attentiveness of young musicians. The class consists of movement, solfege, and improvisation in order to attain well-rounded musicianship. In this introductory Dalcroze class, we focus on “quick reaction”. Students respond to basic musical subjects including, but not limited to binary beat and ternary beat, rests, phrase, intervals, two voice listening, simple meter and compound meter, five note singing improvisation, and canon. One parent must accompany each student.

This class is designed for musicians to continue developing collaborative skills as well as spontaneity followed by musical analysis. The class materials are also relevant for older musicians as they help make a strong connection between music theory study and instrumental study. The following subjects include, but are not limited to diatonic scales, triads, complementary rhythm, unequal beats, syncopation, the pentatonic scale.

This class is designed to focus on “rhythmic solfege”—the study of inner hearing. In order to develop listening ears, the class uses fixed “Do” syllables to indicate pitch, and numbers to indicate function. Students who are comfortable with all of the basic coordination of eurhythmics will explore further subjects including, but not limited to augmentation and diminution, singing modulation, melodic and rhythmic dictation, modes, the chromatic scale, and singing/piano improvisation.

This class is designed for students who are comfortable with all of the materials in Dalcroze 1–3. Students will continue focusing on “rhythmic solfege” which cultivates a keen sense of pitch and analytic listening. Kinetic training sinks into the body as “muscle memory” which is linked to physical and mental flexibility as musicians. Further advanced topics will be added including but not limited to trichords, metric transformation, canon improvisation, hemiola, and the octatonic scale.