Junior Program Classes (9-12)
Junior Theory: "Notes and Harmony" - year long class, starting in fall.
Who should take this class
Our Pre-college theory classes are taught in the style of freshman college classes, with an expectation that students know how to take notes and sit still. Therefore, they are appropriate for high schoolers and occasionally for mature middle schoolers.
The Junior program offers a way for younger students to begin building a theory fundamentals background without the expectation of taking notes at a college level.
The class size tends to be small and we can customize the materials to fit the strengths and weaknesses found each year. The tone is informal. Students should feel free to ask questions when things don't make sense. We do have tests and final exams, but the content and format of the exams will be shared clearly ahead of time.
Students who do VERY well have even tested into pre-college Theory 2. Even students who have a hard time still find that when they take Theory 1 in the future, concepts are familiar and they keep up more easily. All students will benefit from developing a vocabulary that lets them communicate better with other musicians.
- Students entering Junior theory are expected to read music in at least one clef. Students play an instrument, or are singers by this stage. Private lessons should start no later than age 6. Juniors are age 9-12.
- This class works best if paired with either Children's Choir or Ear Training 1, but exceptions may be made for students who participate in another vocal program.
- Students will be given weekly assignments.
The effort they put in will determine what they get out of the class. Students who spend time thinking about what we did during the week will build fluency with the topics. Students who try to finish their homework in the 10 minutes they spend in the lobby before class… well, they will still gain some familiarity with the vocabulary, but they will perform much slower on tests. The instructor only has 50 minutes with them each week, so it is their choice how seriously to take the material.
- The first thing we do is learn what clefs really mean and figure out how to read ANY clef, even the weird obsolete ones!
- Students with an instrumental background or those who have taken our children's classes have generally memorized a few key signatures. We will look at WHY those keys have a certain number of sharps or flats by looking at construction of major and minor scales and the "circle of fifths" relationship.
- We will explore WHY notes have to be spelled a certain way depending on the context of the notes around them. A-sharp is not the same as B-flat!
- We will learn to identify and spell different qualities of intervals and chords.
- We will learn the concept of diatonic notes and chords, (starting with major keys).
- We will begin Roman numeral analysis and inversion symbols (again, major keys first).
- We will learn about tendency tones and tritone resolution.
- We will revisit the different kinds of minor scales, and look at how they relate to the important chords containing tritones.
Most years will get at least this far. Faster years may get as far as minor diatonic
chords, beginning voice leading, non chord tones, and even secondary functions.
Exploring Rhythm: "Meters, Beats, and Note Values" - NEW CLASS!
One semester class to be offered both semesters depending on interest.
Who should take this class
A class for young musicians who find that their note reading ability exceeds their rhythm reading ability. Or, for young composers who can write their notes, but have a hard time figuring out how to write their rhythms. Many of the materials are from the sight-reading class we have offered before, but this class will focus on the rhythmic elements.
This is a new class, so the age range is flexible as we gauge interest. As it is more practical than a theory class, it will likely accommodate a larger age range.
Concepts to be explored:
- What do time signatures REALLY mean? The textbook definition many beginners learn only applies to "Simple Meters". This class will go on to address Compound Meters, Composite (or Asymmetrical) Meters, and even Irrational Meters (very rare, but becoming more common).
- Proper rhythmic notation. Sometimes there is more than one way to notate the same rhythm. To an extent, this is up to composer preference, but some choices are better than others! We will look at why we sometimes use ties instead of long note values and how we can avoiding obscuring the meter with poor note value choices.
- The difference between "durational" rhythm and "metric" rhythm. An 8th note starting on a beat feels different than one starting partway through a beat; they have the same duration, but their meaning within the meter is different.
- Cross-rhythm, isorhythm and polymeter. With pitch, we make students practice scales, rather than letting them just learn notes when they happen to encounter them in pieces. Yet, for some reason, classical training can be less rigorous about isolating these rhythmic fundamentals. This can lead to students learning complex crossrhythms by ear and "faking" them rather than really understanding how the parts fit together. Any complex cross-rhythm can be worked out with the same kind of attention we give to pitch. Let's do the math!!
- We are all conductors! Realize how the way you move when you play gives information to the other people playing with you. Is your information metrically helpful?