Music Theory

MYS Theory and Composition Program

Goal: A theory sequence that utilizes historical and modern compositional practices to encourage more musicians to discover their own musical voice.

Classes offered:

Year 1: Music literacy and creativity
Year 2: Tonal composition
Year 3: Modern composition
Year 4: World traditions of composition

Testing into Theory:

New students will be placed in either 1st, 2nd or 3rd year based on test evaluations. 4th year students will be moved automatically from 3rd year unless: a student is lower than the average age for their class. In this case they can choose another class at instructor discretion. Students may re-enroll in the same class the next year with instructor approval.

Class Descriptions:

Year 1: Music Literacy and Creativity

First year in-person classes are about establishing a baseline musical literacy including basic concepts of notation, rhythm, intervals, triads, and scales, with an emphasis on group composition exercises to encourage creative autonomy as well as build music literacy.

Year 2: Tonal Composition

Second year focuses on composing with chord structures, including and beyond standard cadential progressions, such as added note chords, quartal/quintal harmonies and clusters. A wider variety of scales (chromatic, pentatonic, whole tone, modes) will also be introduced.

Year 3: Modern Composition

Third year will focus on a small core of 20th century repertoire to be studied in depth and explore post-tonal and experimental composing techniques. Composition exercises to explore non-standard scales, polyrhythms, mixed meters and graphic notation.

Year 4: World Traditions of Composition

Fourth year will put the orchestra in a greater world context. Students will learn about different international ensemble traditions, and analyze musical styles associated with them, including Arabic and Indian classical music, Chinese bamboo and silk ensemble, Congolese soukous, and Indonesian gamelan. Students will work on composition exercises that utilize aspects of these musical traditions.

Tuition & Class Details

  • Music Theory tuition is $125 for the year
  • Theory Classes will begin on October 2 in person, and October 5th online, and last for 26 weeks.

1st Year In-person music literacy classes:

  • 12:05 – 12:50pm Faubion School: Nicholas Emerson
  • 11:45am – 12:30pm HIdden Creek Community Center: Charlie Kerns

Online classes: 5:30 PM Tuesdays:

  • 2nd Year: Lisa Neher
  • 3rd Year: Steve Lewis
  • 4th year Ryan Francis

For all online classes, teaching material will utilize composition-based exercises facilitated in web-based notation software Noteflight Learn.

Music Theory Class Registration

$125 per student
  • These optional (but highly recommended) classes encourage players to build upon their instrumental performance skills by learning more about the building blocks of music. Topics may include clefs and key signatures, intervals and chords structures, aural skills, and much more. Classes will begin on October 2nd.
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