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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.

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

This course will introduce the rudiments of Music Theory for the older beginner, ages 12 and up.  Basic notation, meter, rhythm, scales, and intervals will be taught at a slightly accelerated pace.

This year-long course will introduce the beginning concepts of music theory: notation, meter, scales, harmony, and basic musical forms through the incorporation of Dalcroze Eurhythmics, an innovative approach to deepening the understanding of musical concepts. Class activities include spatial exploration, vocal awareness, as well as extensive rhythmic training.

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 education has provided me with a fresh perspective on teaching beat, rhythm, meter, phrase, and more to my piano students. The concept of “learning through whole body movement” offers a natural and engaging approach to musical education. It’s a fun and interactive method that enhances the learning experience for students.”

– Toshiko Mohr Piano, Instructor

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.

The Dalcroze approach emphasizes the use of the whole body in musicianship training and highlights ear training as an essential component of music education. Class activities center on rhythmic movement and vocal awareness.  We develop skills in improvising; this unlocks students’ innate musicality and develops musical security. This kinetic approach builds “muscle memory” and helps to internalize music elements; students’ experience in music becomes personal which brings joy and confidence in developing musicianship.

Introduction to Dalcroze Eurhythmics complements young students’ instrumental studies through active learning. Movement activities develop physical coordination for young musicians, and collaborative work with classmates makes music concepts, including tempo, meter, rhythm patterns, and phrasing, more accessible and easier to understand. Singing games and exercises that use movement develop listening skills and train the musical ear.  This class is designed for 5-7 year-old students who are currently taking instrumental lessons.

One parent must participate with a student. Students may need to be assessed by Ms. Izumi to ensure readiness for class, contact mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling.

The Dalcroze approach emphasizes the use of the whole body in musicianship training and highlights ear training as an essential component of music education. Class activities center on rhythmic movement and vocal awareness.  We develop skills in improvising; this unlocks students’ innate musicality and develops musical security. This kinetic approach builds “muscle memory” and helps to internalize music elements; students’ experience in music becomes personal which brings joy and confidence in developing musicianship.

In this class, students learn basic musical concepts through a variety of kinetic activities. 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. Students also work on ear training and basic note reading by singing and analyzing songs. One parent must participate with a student.

Students may need to be assessed by Ms. Izumi to ensure readiness for class, contact mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling.

The Dalcroze approach emphasizes the use of the whole body in musicianship training and highlights ear training as an essential component of music education. Class activities center on rhythmic movement and vocal awareness.  We develop skills in improvising; this unlocks students’ innate musicality and develops musical security. This kinetic approach builds “muscle memory” and helps to internalize music elements; students’ experience in music becomes personal which brings joy and confidence in developing musicianship.

In this introductory Rhythmic Solfege, fixed “Do” syllables are used to indicate pitch, and numbers are used to indicate function. Various Dalcroze exercises will help students to develop a keen sense of pitch and rhythmic vitality. Through vocal improvisation, the class will explore melody, and experiment with forms such as Question / Answer, A-B-A, and Rondo. The curriculum includes, but is not limited to, diatonic scales, triads, measure shape, and syncopation. Specific examples will be selected from musical literature and presented in class.

Students may need to be assessed by Ms. Izumi to ensure readiness for class, contact mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling.

The Dalcroze approach emphasizes the use of the whole body in musicianship training and highlights ear training as an essential component of music education. Class activities center on rhythmic movement and vocal awareness.  We develop skills in improvising; this unlocks students’ innate musicality and develops musical security. This kinetic approach builds “muscle memory” and helps to internalize music elements; students’ experience in music becomes personal which brings joy and confidence in developing musicianship.

Students will deepen their musicianship through Dalcroze solfege, and rhythmic movement. Furthermore, the class will focus 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. Assignments will be given weekly.

Students may need to be assessed by Ms. Izumi to ensure readiness for class, contact mizumi@colburnschool.edu prior to enrolling.

This class is specifically designed for CSPA Suzuki string students to increase musical awareness and expressiveness through movement-based activities. Students gain active listening skills, rhythmic vitality, a keen sense of pitch as well as coordination. The Dalcroze approach includes interaction with classmates; this helps students develop ensemble skills. Examples from musical literature, including the Suzuki repertoire, will be provided to deepen understanding of music elements introduced in the sessions.

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.

This course is intended as an introduction to contemporary classical composition. Skills, techniques, strategies, and aesthetics will be developed by studying various theories and concepts. The course will include short compositional assignments with continuous feedback from the instructor. Starting with relatively simple projects, students will progress to more complex assignments to compose for solo instrument and small chamber ensembles. Classes will include presentations and masterclass-like discussions of student projects.

Eligible students must demonstrate the following:

  • Intermediate I theory proficiency (4-part figured-bass writing).
  • Ability to play an instrument (piano desirable).
  • A composition portfolio of audio/score examples ready for the instructor’s evaluation and permission to register.
  • Access to and skill with music notation software, such as Finale or Sibelius.

Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

A continuation of the Introduction to Composition class. Registration by permission of the instructor. 

The foundation of this course is an improvisational approach to contemporary songwriting. Students will concentrate on melody writing, harmonic progressions, lyrics, and song structure as they develop their own voice. 

Eligible students must demonstrate the following:

– Ability to accompany their songs on their instruments (guitar or piano).

– Ability to sing songs written for the class.

– Have Elementary IB level theory knowledge (basic notation, keys, key signatures, chords).

– A song portfolio of audio examples ready for the instructor’s evaluation and permission to register.

Placement test is required prior to enrolling. Email the completed assessment to cspa@colburnschool.edu.

Click here for Placement Test

 

Private Lessons

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