These courses will be contingent on enrollment.

History and Literature of Music

Focusing on the great masterworks of Western music, students explore a wide range of music, spanning Gregorian chant through trends in contemporary music. Students will gain analysis techniques and score-reading skills. Testing is largely based on identification of music heard in class, including composer and era. Students additionally prepare and offer seminars on topics of their choice from the class. [It is an excellent supplement to Conducting I.]

Beyond the Three Bs*

This advanced seminar explores music history from a critical and inquisitive perspective in terms of both time and nationality. This is a discussion-heavy class, with readings from Richard Taruskin’s monumental Oxford History of Music and Strunk’s Source Readings in Music History.
* Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms (or the Germanic tradition).

Prerequisites: Music Theory II, History and Literature, and/or instructor’s permission.

Sight-Reading for String Players

Good solo practice techniques (fixing mistakes, playing cleanly and musically, working out fingerings and bowings) can be disastrous when transferred to an ensemble setting. Developing a precise method for playing unfamiliar pieces at full speed can be a lifesaver, and learning to sight-read effectively is the key. Smart metric reading, often obscured by those who play by ear, is emphasized. Understanding how to fit within rhythm, meter, and harmony can be effective even if we aren’t playing 100% perfectly. These skills are useful to string players of any age group.

Sonata Collaboration and Literature

People often confuse the roles in classic accompanied sonatas (like those of Beethoven or Brahms) as star soloist and accompanist, but they are decidedly team efforts! In this class, we pair pianists with other instrumentalists to master a full sonata movement, regularly playing and receiving feedback in class, and ultimately performing publicly. This helps students negotiate differences in interpretation, using constructive feedback. The class will analyze the sonata movements, and listen to and discuss recordings of some of the most famous collaborative teams.  Performance opportunities include the winter and spring chamber recitals, our outreach program, and others at the instructor’s discretion.

Prerequisites: By permission

Beginning Conducting I and II

Even if you don’t picture yourself on the podium at the Met or the Vienna Philharmonic, conducting skills will come in handy to you in your music studies. In this course, our more advanced students learn how to study and analyze a full score, master the basic conducting patterns for both hands, gain necessary transposition skills, and prepare to conduct a small ensemble. Students should demonstrate exceptional ability on their instruments, read in all clefs, and identify all triads and seventh chords. Simple keyboard skills are preferred but not required.

Prerequisites: Completion of Theory/Ear Training II, and instructor’s permission

AP Theory Preparation

For students nearing college age, the AP Theory test corresponds to about two semesters of a college Theory I course. Many colleges and conservatories (but not all!) offer college credit and/or course waivers for students who achieve a high score on the exam. This course reviews the ear training, written theory, dictation, Roman Numeral, and sight-singing components of the exam.

Prerequisites: At least Theory I/Ear Training I.

Improvisation Overview

There are many different ways to improvise, but some musicians are scared to throw away the score and just play using the ear and the brain. For those who want to try something new, this friendly, fun, and experimental series of improv workshops will be led by musicians from different fields: baroque, jazz, modern classical, avant-garde, and pop. No improv experience is needed, but students already versed in one style may still benefit from exploring other approaches.


For composers, arrangers, or musicians of any walk of life, notation is a big part of how we express ourselves. But, just like a tortured sentence can confuse a reader, a bad notational choice can muddy clarity and lead to less-than-ideal performances. We will look at different options in writing the same sound, compare pros and cons of each approach, and look at examples where composers changed their minds. In addition to reviewing handwritten notation, we’ll also investigate the newest generation of computer-aided notation software.
Independent Study Group
If you are taking IB music, preparing for a senior project, planning a lecture recital, or just want a space outside of lessons to explore an idea, this class could be for you. It is run seminar-style, with students brainstorming ideas, sharing their progress, and practicing their presentation. Instructors help generate ideas, guide the process, and edit the work.

Music History and Appreciation for Non-Musicians

Are you a parent of a talented musician? Do you like how your kid sounds but admittedly not really understand what they’re really up to? This no-stress, no-homework course is designed to give you an appreciation for how to really listen and understand the classical masterworks.

Orchestral Excerpts

Being competitive in the music world today requires instrumentalists to acquire an enormous amount of repertoire. Each instrument has popular excerpts commonly employed in auditions. Learning excerpts can prepare students for their big moments to shine in orchestral performance. Students will prepare and present excerpts to the class, and engage in discussion and constructive criticism.

Electronic Music

This course focuses on techniques and history specific to electronic music, including early electric instruments, the styles of musique concrète and elektronische Musik, and the development of the synthesizer and the computer as musical instruments. Along with classic works, current styles and developments in both the modern classical and popular realm are explored, along with specific software skills in programs like Logic and Ableton. This course will be of particular interest to composers wishing to expand their sound palettes.

Historical Performance Practice

Historically Informed Performance has become a major player on the scene: many musicians play on original or replica models of older instruments and explore instrumental treatises from Baroque/Classical figures in an attempt at recreating what the composer might have heard. Even musicians uninterested in picking up a gut string violin or an old wooden traverso flute can benefit from learning about performance practice on modern instruments. Learning about dance forms and ornamentation could make your Bach sound vivid and exciting, or give your Mozart a much-needed kick! These skills are increasingly valuable and necessary in the professional world.


The world is a big place, and the diversity of its inhabitants is reflected in their musical cultures. Many Western composers (Debussy, Messiaen, Cage, Reich, and countless others) drew upon inspiration from music across the globe. Even if your primary focus is on classical music, knowing about the music of other people can enhance your musical life and understanding. The course will explore the music of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabic and Persian traditions, India, Bali/Java, China, Japan, Central and Southern America, and Native American Music.

Keyboard Skills

Not every musician has a budding concert pianist in them, but even if piano isn’t your instrument, developing keyboard skills will enhance your aptitude in theory and harmony. For students with little or no keyboard experience, this course will provide valuable instruction, with students gaining proficiency in scales, chords, and sight-reading

Opera: the first 400 years


Some musicians love opera and some are just confused about it. If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss was about – or if you’ve already caught the opera bug – this course is for you. We will discuss opera’s early antecedents and the development of the form in Italy in the late 1590s. The history will be examined, from the Baroque, to the great works of Mozart, to the monumental figures of Wagner and Verdi, and the diversity of contemporary opera. This course will take advantage of CD and DVD recordings and students will also do individual research projects on operas of their choice to present to the class.

Prerequisites: Theory I and a good grasp on score reading, including orchestral and vocal scores.

Jazz: History and Theory

Jazz is one of America’s quintessential musical contributions to the world. This course, intended for both the jazz novice and the enthusiast, will chart its history from early Blues and Dixieland styles through the Big Band era, Be-Bop, Cool Jazz, Free Jazz, Fusion, and beyond. Concurrently, the harmonic and formal aspects of jazz will be explored.

Prerequisites: Theory II or the instructor’s permission.