CCM: Prep

CCM: Prep

Music Theory at CCM Preparatory

Ellen Harrison, Chair

At CCM Preparatory, we believe that music theory — and not instrumental or vocal studies alone — is essential for students to develop into well-rounded musicians. While music theory basics are part of the curricula in some of our courses, a separate program of theory, ear training and composition study:

  • Enhances and increases musical understanding
  • Complements skills learned in instrumental and vocal lessons
  • Helps students can learn new music more quickly as they begin to recognize and anticipate its different elements.
  • Is often a requirement for collegiate study
  • Is essential to composing and arranging in classical, jazz and many pop genres

Most students studying theory at CCM Preparatory enroll in our Comprehensive Theory Program. Also available are Ensemble Theory, semi-private and and individual lesson options (see below for full list of options and descriptions). Theory tuition is heavily discounted for students who are already enrolled in individual lessons at CCM Preparatory.

Comprehensive Theory Program

This program consists of three progressive levels. Courses are offered for either high schoolers and adults or for students age 8 through middle school. Several times throughout the year, classes meet in the computer lab at CCM for in-depth, individualized study. Most younger students take two years to complete each of the three levels, but usually the levels and the time needed to complete them are adjusted individually through interaction with the instructor.

Prospective students should take our theory test. The link includes instructions for taking the test and submitting it. Within several days of your submission, you will be contacted by a CCM Preparatory representative who can advise you on an appropriate course plan and level of study.

Level I

The first level serves as a direct aid to beginning instrumental study. Ear training focuses on aural recognition of the concepts studied in written theory. Students study solfege and develop the ability to sing simple melodies in major and minor keys while conducting the meter. In addition, students train their inner ears by learning how to notate simple melodic and rhythmic dictations. Great emphasis is placed on rhythmic control and proper execution of the subdivisions of the beat. Topics mastered include:  treble and bass clefs; major and minor scales and key signatures; diatonic intervals; simple time signatures and rhythmic subdivisions.

Level II

Level II reviews and builds upon the foundation of Level I and focuses on more challenging sight singing and dictation (melodic and rhythmic.) Students develop the ability to recognize and sing all intervals and triads.Topics mastered at this level include: alto clef; chromatic intervals; triads, seventh chords and their inversions; figured bass; cadences; diatonic church modes; non-harmonic tones and ornaments; transposition; compound time and small-scale musical forms.

Level III

This class is designed for those students who already have a secure knowledge of the fundamentals covered in Levels I and II. It will focus on the basic elements of diatonic harmony and functional analysis and introduce four-part harmony before moving on to modulation and chromatic harmony. The ear training will include challenging sight singing assignments as well as harmonic, melodic and rhythmic dictations.Topics mastered include: tenor clef; transposition; melody writing; realizing a figured bass; part writing and harmonization of a melody; and large-scale musical forms.