The Preparatory Theory Program is designed to challenge the highly motivated music student. Students are made aware of how musicianship training and theoretical understanding facilitate and enrich instrumental study.

Classes are fast-paced, intensive, and resemble vocal ensemble rehearsals. Students are made to feel responsible to their classmates as well as to the instructor and are encouraged to spend part of their daily practice time working on sight-singing and rhythm reading. Sight-singing and written skills are tested at the end of each semester. Written evaluations of students include a progress report in mid-January and a final evaluation at year end.

The class schedule listed below is accurate for the 2014-2015 academic year.

For questions and information, please contact the Prep office at (617) 585-1160 or email

Two Track System for Levels I and II

Most younger students (ages 9-11) take two years to complete either Level I or Level II. Consequently, for younger students, these levels are each broken into two separate years of study: I-1, I-2, II-1, II-2.

Older students (ages 12-18) are often given the opportunity to complete either Level I or Level II in a single year. Students who take advantage of this Theory for Teens track must be ready to absorb a considerable amount of information and skill in a shorter period of time.

Level I

The first level functions as a direct aid to beginning instrumental study. Students develop the ability to sing simple melodies in major and minor keys while conducting the meter and tapping appropriate divisions of the beat. Particular emphasis is placed on development of rhythmic coordination and control. Compositional assignments integrate ear training with theoretical concepts. Fundamentals mastered at this level:

• Conducting patterns of 2, 3, and 4
• Division of the beat into 2, 3, and 4 parts
• Bass and treble clefs
• Key signatures
• Relative minor and relative major relationships
• Interval content of major and minor scales
• Tonic and dominant chords in all major and minor keys

Levels I-1, I-2: Saturday, 9-10am or 10-11am
Level I Theory for Teens: Saturday, 11am-12pm or 1-2pm

Texts*: Cole, Melodia; Oxford Folksong Sight Singing Series, Vols. 1 and 8

Level II

Level II reviews and builds upon Level I materials and activities. Students continue to sing simple diatonic melodies presented now in alto and tenor clef. More challenging melodies in treble and bass clefs are also introduced, and students develop the ability to identify, recognize, and sing intervals up to the size of a major ninth. Classes stress understanding of the following:

• Triads within a key, including qualities and functions
• Fundamentals of figured bass
• Theory of triads, roots, inversions
• Dominant seventh chords
• Non-harmonic tones: passing tones, neighbor notes, suspensions
• Cadences, including authentic, half, and deceptive
• Modulation

Level II-1: Saturday, 9-10am or 10-11am
Level II-2: Saturday, 11am-12pm or 1-2pm
Level II Theory for Teens: Saturday, 11am-12pm or 2-3pm

Texts*: Starer, Rhythmic Training; Oxford Folksong Sight Singing Series, Vols. 5 and 9

Level III–1: Solfège

This course is an introduction to singing melodies using fixed-do solmization. Emphasis will be placed on fluent sightreading in treble, bass, and alto clefs. Harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic dictation will be given weekly as well as prepared performances from a variety of texts including those listed below.

Saturday, 10-11am or 1-2pm

Texts*: Danhauser, Solfège de Solfèges, Book I; Dandelot, Manuel Practique; and Bona, Rhythmic Articulation

Level III–2: Harmony

This courses focuses on part writing and figured-bass realization. Harmonic progression and voice-leading are drilled through four-part (SATB) realizations of figured basses. Students will realize simple figured-bass lines at the piano and be introduced to formulaic harmonic progressions. Harmonic vocabulary includes triads in root position, inversions, seventh chords, diatonic modulations, secondary dominants, mode mixture, augmented sixths, and the Neapolitan chord. Singing and harmonic dictation will stress aural development.

Saturday, 10-11am or 11am-12pm

Text*: Benward, Music in Theory and Practice, Vol. 1.

Level IV–1: Interpretive Analysis

This challenging course invites students to apply a variety of analytical theories to the problems of interpretation. Following a series of introductory lectures, the class focuses on specific compositions by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. Selected pieces are performed by the students and are both discussed and coached by the class. Appropriate analytical readings are discussed, and different recordings of the same work are compared and critiqued.

• Completion of Performance Level III
• Proficiency in Roman numeral analysis, principles of two- and three-voice species counterpoint, and figured bass realization.

Saturday, 1-2pm

Level IV–2: Advanced Solfège and Score Reading

This final year integrates advanced musicianship studies with an investigation of 20th century musical materials. Students sing atonal melodies and dictation in two, three, and four parts. Fluency in five clefs is demonstrated through the performance of Bach chorales in open score and sight-transposition of orchestral scores. Emphasis is also placed on rhythmic notation and the mastery of polyrhythms.

Saturday, 11am-12pm

Texts*: Edlund, Modus Novus; Reimenschneider, ed., Ninety-one Chorales in Open Score; Danhauser, Solfège de Solfèges, Book III; Dandelot, Manuel Practique

*Note: Texts and other musical materials may be purchased at Music Espresso, located at 295 Huntington Ave.