AP Music Theory
On-Line for the 2017-2018 School Year
Teacher: Hannah Jackson
COURSE DATES: Sept 5 through May 21, with the following breaks: Nov 20-24, Dec 19-Jan 1, March 27-Apr 2. The AP exam will take place in early to mid-May.
COURSE FEE for Credit:
- Early-bird: $600 (By July 1, 2017)
COURSE FEE for Audit:
- Early-bird: $300 (By July 1, 2017)
This course offers the equivalent of a first-year college course in music theory and aural skills. The aim of the course is to provide students with a grounding in the core concepts of music theory, including harmony, voice-leading, and musical structure, as well as competency in skills such as rhythm, sight-singing, interval and chord recognition, and dictation. By the end of the course, students will learn to listen to and examine a musical score analytically, to understand and appreciate the techniques of the composer as they relate to pitch, rhythm, phrase structure, texture, and thematic development, and to describe these phenomena with a sophisticated musical vocabulary. We will focus on Western tonal music of the common practice period (more specifically, the music of the Baroque through the early Romantic eras), as this is the music that generated and best exemplifies the rules we will be studying. Per the requirements of the AP exam, however, we will also learn how to analyze music of other genres, such as jazz and popular music. The course will prepare students to take the College Board AP Music Theory exam. Students who do well on this exam are in a position to receive college credit and/or placement in a higher-level music theory class (second semester or third semester, depending on the individual college/university’s policy).
WHO SHOULD APPLY?
- Students entering 11th or 12th grade who have some background in music and are currently engaged in some sort of formal music instruction (private instrumental/vocal lessons, choir, orchestra, etc.) Students must be able to read music in at least one clef—while note-reading in various clefs is covered at the beginning of the course, the material will progress from there very quickly!
- While piano skills are not required, it is recommended that students at least be able to play scales, triads and arpeggios. I strongly recommend that students have access to a piano/keyboard. As a theory student I found the keyboard to be indispensable, both for practicing aural skills and for completing assignments.
- The aural skills component of this class will involve singing. Students need not have vocal training or a gorgeous voice—this is not about sounding beautiful!—but they must be willing to sing for me and for each other. We will all “put ourselves out there” with the goal of helping each other improve.
- To succeed in this course, students will need to be disciplined and self-driven, able to handle a substantial amount of reading and homework each week, and motivated by hunger for understanding! Music theory is a bit like math—it entails a good deal of “banging one’s head against a wall,” conducting painstaking analysis, memorizing rules…but those who put in the hard mental work will be rewarded.
- Students who are interested in taking the course will need to pass a preliminary exam, which will cover the basic elements of music (pitch names, major and minor scales, key signatures, intervals, etc), as well as some other advanced musical concepts. To take the exam, or to contact me with any other questions regarding the class, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
COURSE OVERVIEW and FORMAT:
This class is structured around two core components: written theory (audio/video-lectures, reading, analysis, written homework) and aural/musicianship skills (singing, dictation, rhythm, and other ear-training skills). Music is something that must be practiced as well as studied; to this end, the course will include weekly, live, hour-long “labs,” in which I meet with students in small groups for aural theory instruction and practice. (The lab schedule will be determined once registration is finalized, and will take students’ preexisting schedules into account.) In addition, hour-long live meetings will be held once a week in order to review concepts, go over homework problems, discuss practice strategies, and answer questions. Attendance at these meetings is not mandatory but is strongly encouraged, especially if a student is experiencing difficulty with any of the course material. I will also record these meetings and post to the course website.
The work for the other component of the class, written theory, will be done independently by the student. This will include: viewing the online lectures (2 or 3 per week), weekly reading assignments from the textbook, 2-3 homework assignments (worksheets, analysis, listening response and/or composition assignments) submitted electronically each week, and an occasional post on the class discussion board. I suggest that students dedicate Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to watching the lectures and doing the readings, and Tuesdays and Thursdays to aural skill work, with assignments spread throughout the week. Students will best assimilate the material if some work or practice is done every day.
Testing will occur in the form of regular quizzes and tests, a midterm exam, and a final exam. Students will meet individually with me online for aural/singing/dictation assessments. Students will also complete one or two major projects over the course of the year (e.g. a larger analysis or composition project). Students are encouraged (though not required) to take the AP exam in the Spring; we will prepare for this by examining questions from past AP exams and by taking timed practice exams. Students may also practice on their own using questions from past AP exams (https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse/ap-music-theory/exam-practice) and AP study guides (available in bookstores, from Amazon, etc.)
DESCRIPTION of CREDIT vs AUDIT:
Students have the option to audit AP Music Theory, instead of taking the class for credit. This allows access to the website, syllabus, lectures, and any other material posted on the website. Students can follow along and work through the material independently. The audit option does not include participation in "labs" or any live class sessions; also, I do not provide feedback/grades for auditing students. However, the workbook does include access to online tutorials/feedback. Auditing students may also choose to purchase MacGamut6 ear-training software ($40, from http://www.macgamut.com), an excellent way to practice the aural skills component of this class.
Students can expect to spend 10-15 hours a week on work for the class: about 3 of these hours will be spent in "class time" (online lectures, weekly "lab," weekly class meeting). The rest will be spent on independent work, and may vary from week to week, as some concepts or assignments may be more difficult than others.
- Feedback and Communication:
- I will grade and return assignments to students within one week.
- Although I will usually communicate with students rather than parents, if there is a major problem or if a student is struggling with the class over a long period of time, I will contact the parent. Likewise, if parents have concerns about how their child is doing, or about my feedback to the student, they should feel free to contact me.
- I will send out a weekly email to students that recaps the assignments for the upcoming week and lists any deviations from the syllabus. (All assignments will be posted on the syllabus at the beginning of the year, but are subject to change at my discretion.) Parents may opt to receive this email as well.
- Attendance: Students must be “in attendance” at their weekly assigned lab sessions (schedule TBD), and must be ready to participate in drills and exercises. If you are unable to attend your session during a given week due to sickness, or if a schedule conflict comes up, I will do my best to reschedule you for one of the other sessions. I appreciate your advance notice on this, if possible. Everyone gets 3 “free” absences. After that, points will be deducted from your grade.
- Timely completion of assignments: This one is just as much for your sake as it is for mine, as it will help keep you on track and prevent your becoming overwhelmed. The more you accustom yourself to working within deadlines, the easier your later academic life (or work life) will be. If you know that an upcoming event/travel/etc. will prevent you from meeting a deadline, communicate with me in advance, and we will work out a plan.
- Honesty: Due to the online nature of this class, much of the testing/grading relies on the honor system. I trust that you are taking this class because you want to, and that you will be honest in your work. If you are doing all the work and attending class meetings, but are still struggling with a concept or an assignment and need help, let me know. Emails are welcome, and if necessary we can set up a video-conference appointment to discuss your concerns.
- Clendinning, Jane Piper, and Elizabeth West Marvin. 2016. The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis (Third Edition). New York: W.W. Norton.
- Clendinning, Jane Piper, and Elizabeth West Marvin. 2011. Workbook for The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis (Third Edition). New York. W.W. Norton.
- Crowell, Benjamin. Eyes and Ears: An Anthology of Melodies for Sight-Singing. (http://www.lightandmatter.com/sight/sight.html). If you download this text, it is free. If you wish to have it in paper form, you can order it for a minimal fee.
REQUIRED SOFTWARE and TECHNOLOGY:
- High speed internet. Phone lines or satellite will not accommodate the music files and graphics used in this class.
- Adobe Reader: the most recent version of Adobe reader can be downloaded for free from http://www.adobe.com
- Scanner, for scanning homework and sending to me in PDF format.
- Zoom. This is the program we will be using for video-conferencing ("labs," etc.) No purchase necessary on your part, as I will be "hosting" the sessions.
- Computer microphone.
OPTIONAL SOFTWARE and TECHNOLOGY AIDS AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS:
- MacGamut6 for Mac and Windows. This ear-training software program can be purchased online ($40.00) from http://www.macgamut.com, and is a recommended resource for students auditing the class.
- Finale Notepad: a music notation software, available as a free download at http://www.finalemusic.com/notepad/default.aspx
- Noteflight: another free notation software, at http://www.noteflight.com/login
- http://www2.wwnorton.com/college/music/musictheory/premium/. This website accompanies an older edition of the textbook we will be using in class, and contains supplementary exercises as well as review materials such as flash cards, interactive scores and audio, and “Web Facts.”
- www.musictheory.net and www.teoria.com These sites provide online review of music theory topics as well as extra practice for aural skills!
- http://www.metronomeonline.com. This site provides an online metronome.
- http://www.blanksheetmusic.net/. This is a resource for free music staff paper.
I recently graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and a concentration in Viola Performance. I am thrilled to be teaching this course for the first time and look forward to a wonderful year of studying music together. My interest in home-education derives from my own experience as a member of a homeschooling family; two of my siblings graduated with PHAA, and one took several AP courses through PA Homeschoolers. My teaching experience includes tutoring in a variety of subjects, and working for one year as a teacher’s assistant at Veritas Academy. My interests other than music include classical education, studying German, reading and hiking.
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