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Music Theory at the Academy

Although the Academy offers five levels of music theory as part of its curriculum, students must enter with at least some knowledge of basic concepts such as key signatures, intervals, scales, triads, the circle of fifths, and sight reading skills. The Academy also teaches fixed do solfeggio and an elementary understanding of music history.

Every student in the Academy takes a placement test at the beginning of the year to determine which level of music theory is most suited to their skill set.

Students are placed in beginning, intermediate, advanced, accelerated, or private composition level classes. From time to time, if a student needs additional tutoring, special classes will be suggested at the parents' expense. Students are encouraged to discuss level movement with their theory teacher or Academy staff if they feel a move to a higher or lower class is in order.


Beginning Theory Class

Students learn the basic elements of music theory, such as the different types of scales, intervals, key signatures, triads, solfeggio, sight reading, and simple musical forms. Aural as well as analytical skills are covered. Basic music history and a sampling of famous composers are also introduced.

Intermediate Theory Class

Intermediate theory and music history cover the following areas: Identifying, writing, and hearing clefs, key signatures, the circle of fifths, scales, intervals, triads, Roman numeral chord analysis, cadences, melodic dictation, and transposition. A broad overview of music history, common musical terms, different ways to listen to music, and analysis of several common musical forms will be presented.  

Advanced Level

Students work with more complicated tertian chords and altered chords (identifying these in written down and aurally). Students will  examine the ideas of modulation through pivot chords, close and remote keys, and how chords can belong to several keys. The class will cover Baroque binary form plan and listen to a Gavotte by Bach, with the aim of analyzing it by ear for phrase and key structure.

Accelerated Level

Building on work with species counterpoint and knowledge of harmony, students will learn some of the basic ideas and terms of Schenkerian analysis including: types of chord prolongations and linear prolongations, basic underlying structures (fundamental structure (Ursatz), different layers of activity and how they interrelate). Students will do four-voiced dictation with the aim of listening for prolonging chords.