Music Theory and Composition

Music Theory and Composition
Craig Levesque, Department Head


Private Instruction

The theory and composition department believes in the integration of written and aural skills, with the goal of creating complete, well-rounded musicians. Students become familiar not only with theoretical concepts but with their application in the standard repertoire. The theory and composition faculty bring years of experience teaching in elementary, middle, high school and university settings, and are active as theorists, composers, arrangers and performers.

Private Lessons

The Conservatory offers private instruction in theory, ear training (musicianship) and composition. Private instruction in theory and ear training is available to any student, and may be structured to prepare the student for one of our standardized theory exams. Prospective composition students are invited to take a short diagnostic test and interview to help determine the best course of study. There is a student composition recital in the spring where young composers are encouraged to share their work. Summer private lessons are available for those students wishing to continue their studies, or to begin the fall semester at a higher theory level.

The minimum age for study is 6 years. See page 15 for tuition rates. Materials fees not included.


Group Instruction

Westminster Conservatory offers a wide variety of courses to meet the needs of every student.   All theory courses have an ear training component. A student may enter the program at any level, to be determined by a placement test. Classes prepare students to take either the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program (MDP), or the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. ABRSM and MDP exams are administered on the Princeton campus of Westminster Conservatory. Please note that the Conservatory does not administer the AP exam; students must take it through their respective school district. Class length is based upon minimum enrollment. Some classes may be offered with a smaller enrollment by reducing the class length. In this case, the tuition remains the same.

  • Theory Class Level I
    ABRSM 1 and 2 or Rudiments 1
    In Theory 1, the focus of the class is on the fundamental building blocks of musical language. At the completion of Theory 1, students will be able to identify all pitches in treble and bass clefs; identify all diatonic scales; identify and construct simple ascending intervals; compose and perform simple rhythms in simple and compound time; analyze and construct tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords; and transpose melodies by an octave, and from treble to bass clef. Placement test required.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 55 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $640 (materials and optional exam fees not included)
  • Theory Class Level II
    ABRSM 3 or Rudiments 2
    Theory 2 begins to integrate the basic elements of theory into more complicated harmonies, melodies, rhythms, and compositions. Students begin to focus on composition and analysis in a more comprehensive way, as they learn to understand the form and structure of music in a more sophisticated manner. At the completion of Theory 2, students will be able to Identify and construct all scales, including diatonic, pentatonic, octatonic, blues, and whole tone; identify and construct all intervals, ascending and descending, and their inversions; compose and perform complicated melodies and rhythms in simple and compound time; analyze and construct all chords within a key, using Roman numerals and figured bass; identify scale degrees by function name; transpose melodies by any simple interval; identify and write full (perfect) and half (imperfect) cadences. Placement test required.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 55 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $640 (materials and optional exam fees not included)
  • Theory Class Level III
    ABRSM 4 or Rudiments 3
    Theory 3 begins to deal with form and harmony in earnest, and prepares students for the challenges of Theory 4. The focus shifts further toward music from the classical repertoire as students analyze more complicated forms, and Roman numerals and figured bass become a greater focus. At the completion of Theory 3, students will be able to voice-lead simple progressions in a major or minor key, using Roman numerals and figured bass; complete a two-voice composition in a traditional form based upon a supplied beginning; analyze the form and structure of simple pieces of music from the Classical repertoire; notate a four-voice vocal score in either chorale or open format; transpose a piece by any interval; construct and perform a melody in mixed, complex, or changing meter; construct all triads and seventh chords in isolation, or in a key. Placement test required.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 55 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $640 (materials and optional exam fees not included)
  • Theory Class Level IV
    ABRSM 5 or Harmony 1
    Theory 4 is the final course in the core theory curriculum. The focus is on voice-leading, analysis, and advanced harmony. At the completion of Theory 4, students will be able to write functionally correct chord progressions in the Classical style; voice-lead complicated progressions involving modal borrowing, tonicizations, and simple modulations to closely related keys; identify and construct simple chromatic pre-dominants; complete significant compositions in standard forms from a supplied beginning; analyze complicated works from the Classical and Romantic repertoire. Placement test required.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 55 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $640 (materials and optional exam fees not included)
  • Advanced Placement Prep
    Age 15 – 18
    The Conservatory offers a two-year course to prepare high school students for the Advanced Placement exam in music theory. Students may begin in year two upon completion of an equivalency exam. Two practice exams are included in the second year, which are graded by Conservatory faculty. Please note that the Conservatory does not administer the AP exam; students must take it through their respective school district. Princeton location only.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 55 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $640 (materials and optional exam fees not included)
  • Adult Theory, Sight Singing & Aural Skills
    Timothy Urban, Instructor
    Adults
    This comprehensive course combines the study of music theory with the development of musicianship skills: rhythmic exercises, pitch exercises in both treble and bass clef, solo and duet singing using melodies from classic literature, etc. Solfege syllables (do, re, mi, etc.) will be used to represent pitches. While this class is open to all adults, it is recommended for non-reading choir and solo singers who wish to improve their music reading skills. Princeton location only.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 45 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $512 (materials not included)

Musicianship Faculty
  
Michael Green
Ikumi Hiraiwa
Julia Kovalev
Craig Levesque
Teresa Lim
Carmen Mateiescu
Edward McCall
Cecelia Reilly
William Sheibinger
Richard Yang Tuk
Timothy Urban
Richard Woo

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