Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Musicianship and Theory Classes

Currently, I am teaching at a junior college that offers very little musical training.  Other than the music appreciation course I teach, our students have the opportunity to participate in the jazz ensemble and choir.  Since private lessons and group piano class is a major step, I am in the process of discussing the possibility of adding two new courses to our curriculum:  musicianship and music theory.

Musicianship is a class designed for students who have no formal training.  The course will focus on melodic and rhythmic notation with some attention given to keyboard geography and sight singing.  As music educators, it is important to provide solid musical training to young people who are interested in music, but don't necessarily want to enroll in lessons.  Who would a musicianship class benefit?  Not only would it be a service to our students, but also members of our community who sing in church choirs or participate in community theater productions and find themselves limited because they cannot read music.  Additionally, the course could be a wonderful addition to the kids' college summer program, providing valuable training to students beginning their music studies at the junior high level.

As a junior college, many of our students plan to transfer to pursue a bachelor's degree.  High school juniors and seniors enroll in courses that will prepare them for college coursework.  These factors combined with the outstanding music programs available in the county point out a section of the student population that we can better serve:  the rising music major.  These students play their instruments well, but have no background in music theory.  Regardless of where the student attends school, they will be required to complete the course;  for many, this fast-faced, demanding class leads them to end their musical study.  By providing an introductory theory class, we equip students with the basic tools they need to succeed as a music major.

Music theory begins where musicianship ends.  The course examines key and scale construction before moving into the area of harmony and chord progression.  By analyzing compositions and writing their own original works, the rising musician becomes more knowledgeable of the complex math and science at work in the music.

For both of these classes, little special equipment is required.  As long as a dry erase board is available, we are good to go.  In a best case scenario, an upright piano or synthesizer (full-sized) would be highly beneficial.  It is my hope that the administration will see the benefits and possibilities provided by adding these two important classes to our course offerings.  I'll keep you, my loyal readers, posted on how things progress.