AP Music Theory
On-Line for the 2018-2019 School Year
Teacher: Hannah Jackson
COURSE DATES: Sept 4 through May 24, with the following breaks: Nov 19-23, Dec 18-Jan 1, and April 15-19. The AP exam will take place on Friday, May 17, 2019, 8:00am.
COURSE FEE for Credit:
- Early-bird: $675 (By July 1, 2018)
COURSE FEE for Audit:
- Early-bird: $300 (By July 1, 2018)
This course offers the equivalent of a first-year college course in music theory and aural skills. As such, it provides students with a grounding in the core concepts of music theory, including harmony, counterpoint, voice-leading, and musical structure, as well as competency in skills such as sight-singing, interval and chord recognition, and dictation. By the end of the year, 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 melody, harmony, phrase structure, and texture, 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 theory we will be studying.
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 in college (depending on the policy of the individual college/university).
WHO SHOULD APPLY?
- High school students who are prepared to do college-level work, have a background in music, and are currently engaged in some sort of formal music instruction (private instrumental/vocal lessons, choir, orchestra, etc.)
- Music literacy—fluency in at least one clef—is required.
- Access to a piano or keyboard, though not an absolute requirement, will be of great help in this class. Piano skills—at minimum, the ability to play scales, triads and arpeggios in different keys—will also be an asset to students taking this class.
- We do a lot of singing in the aural skills labs. Students need not have prior vocal training, but do need to be willing to sing for me and for each other.
- The students who succeed in this course are the ones who are disciplined and self-driven, able to handle a substantial amount of homework each week, and motivated by hunger for understanding. Music theory is a bit like math—it entails painstaking analysis and memorization of rules…but those who put in the mental investment will reap rewards!
- To register for this course, students must first pass an entrance exam and submit an application signed by student and parent. For these documents, 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 and aural/musicianship skills. The first is taught and applied through lectures, reading, analysis, and written homework. The second is practiced through singing, dictation, and other ear-training skills.
Coursework for the written theory component will be done independently by the student. This will include: listening to prerecorded online lectures (usually 2 per week), weekly textbook reading assignments, homework assignments (worksheets, listening response and/or composition assignments) submitted electronically each week, and an occasional post on the class discussion board. The aural skills component is taught through weekly “labs,” hour-long live sessions in which I meet with small groups of students for ear-training and singing practice. (Lab schedule TBD once registration is finalized and students’ schedules are known.) Students are also expected to practice these items independently throughout the week.
Testing is a regular part of this class: module quizzes and exams, aural skills assessments, and midterm and final exams. 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.
THE AUDIT OPTION:
Students who wish to learn the content without the pressure and time commitment of enrolling in the class may choose to audit. This allows access to the website, syllabus, lectures, and multiple-choice exams—basically anything posted on the website. The audit option does not include participation in "labs" or any live class sessions, nor does it include any feedback or grades. However, I can recommend materials to students to use for independent aural skills practice.
If a student begins the year taking the class for credit and finds the work too difficult or time-consuming, he or she may switch to the audit option. Conversely, I may ask a student to make the switch if I feel that it would be a better fit, such as in the case of a student falling severely behind.
- Time Commitment and Expectations:
- Students can expect to spend up to 10 hours a week on this class.
- Attendance: Students must be “in attendance” at their weekly assigned lab sessions (schedule TBD), ready to participate. If you are unable to attend your session during a given week due to sickness or a schedule conflict, I will do my best to reschedule you for another session.
- Timeliness: Due to the cumulative nature of the course material, I do have a strict policy when it comes to timely completion of work. If a student needs an extension, he or she must request it before the assignment deadline. For any extension longer than one week, I require a notification from the parent. After two weeks, unsubmitted work automatically receives a 0%.
- Honesty: Due to the online format of this class, much of the testing 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.
- Feedback and Communication:
- As a rule, I grade and return assignments to students within one week.
- Unless there is a problem, I usually communicate directly with students, but I do welcome communication from parents. Please feel free to contact me with questions and concerns.
- I send out a weekly email to students with the assignments for the upcoming week. (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.
- Clendinning, Jane Piper, and Elizabeth West Marvin. 2016. The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis (Third Edition). New York: W.W. Norton. (New or used is fine.)
- Clendinning, Jane Piper, and Elizabeth West Marvin. 2016. Workbook for The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis (Third Edition). New York. W.W. Norton.
- Buonviri, Nathan O. 2015. Building Better Dictation Skills. (If you buy used, make sure the accompanying CD is included.)
- Crowell, Benjamin. Eyes and Ears: An Anthology of Melodies for Sight-Singing. (http://www.lightandmatter.com/sight/sight.html). Available as a free download or as an inexpensive spiral-bound volume.
- High speed internet is a must for our weekly live lab sessions.
- Scanner, and application for converting homework files to PDF format.
- Zoom, the video-conference program we will be using for our live lab sessions. You will need to download the free app onto your computer.
- Webcam and mic; a headset with microphone works best, but a decent-quality built-in computer mic is also acceptable.
I hold a degree in music theory, with a concentration in viola performance, from Temple University. This will be my second year teaching AP Music Theory. As an instructor with PA Homeschoolers, I have enjoyed getting to study my favorite subject along with some of the brightest young intellects in the homeschool community, and I look forward to doing it again next year!
As the oldest sibling in a large homeschooling family and as a tutor, I also enjoy stretching my areas of teaching “expertise” to include new subjects: English grammar, Latin, and high school level writing seem to be recurring favorites. Besides music and all things education, I enjoy playing table games with my siblings, getting out in the woods with our dog, and practicing my limited German vocabulary.
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