Collage of piano and musical score

Theory, History, and Composition

The Conservatory is privileged to have several composers among its faculty members and offers individual lessons in 30, 45, and 60-minute lengths, depending on student need and teacher recommendation.

Theory for Kids

Students enrolling in Theory classes will be required to take a placement exam unless enrolling in Music Theory Prep.

Young students just starting lessons and not yet proficient at reading music. Topics include: treble and bass clefs, time signatures, rhythm, famous composers.

Building on the skills learned in Prep 1, students will learn about accidentals and enharmonics, measures and simple time signatures, whole tones and semitones. Introduces major scales and key signatures. Course includes reading about and listening to works by great composers.

In this course, students expand their knowledge of key signatures to include relative, as well as the concept of harmonic minor.  They continue learning the constructs of good melody writing, and begin to study the great composers.  This level introduces tonic chord symbols.

Students expand their knowledge of key signatures to two sharps and flats and are introduced to melodic minor.  They play these scales on the piano and on their own instruments.  They learn about major and perfect intervals and begin octave transposition.  This level adds dominant triads and chord symbols to their repertoire.

In this level, students study key signatures and scales up to three sharps and flats.  They learn how to transpose a melodic line into another clef, and are introduced to minor intervals.  This course adds subdominant triads to the mix, and students now progress to writing four-measure melodies outlining specific harmonies.

Theory for Adults

Tuesdays, 1:00-2:00 pm
Instructor: Dr. Kathryn Eames
Tuition: $150

Register here

Using The Royal Conservatory curriculum and materials, adult students will refresh their knowledge and expand their horizons through sequenced instruction in music theory. This enlivening and enlightening course is for beginners through intermediate singers and players, and will include the opportunity to discuss the way that music theory “works” on one’s instrument of study. The Royal Conservatory Prep book is required ($17.95).

Visit the Fees page for more information about tuition and registration fees.

Fall Adult History Courses

September 13 - November 19 (10 weeks)

Mondays, 1:00-2:00 pm
Instructor: Lindsay Dodoras
Tuition: $150

Register here

Explore 100 years of Broadway history from the early days of Broadway to the hit musicals of today. Students will discover how style and content evolved to reflect modern society, and discuss characters, plots, and musical themes of the most beloved musicals of all time.

Tuesdays, 9:00-11:00 am
Instructor: Dr. Sarkis Baltaian
Tuition: $300

Register here

This class explores the keyboard variation repertoire from the Baroque period through the 20th century. Representative works include variations by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Faure, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Bernstein, and others.

Wednesdays, 9:00-10:00 am
Instructor: Rachael Doudrick
Tuition: $150

Register here

The Smithsonian Folkways collection of recordings, videos, and ephemera is a stunning resource for the curious music listener. Students will listen, read, sing, play, and experience instruments and sounds of many cultures through many different types of media and hands-on practice with culture bearers.

Fall Quarter: Ives and Copland
Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 am
Instructor: Dr. Nic Gerpe
Tuition: $300

Register here

This class will follow the development of American Contemporary music and the emergence of a distinct American sound from 1900 to today. Students will study how composers integrated elements as disparate as hymns, counterpoint, jazz, popular music, atonality, polytonality, technology, and experimental use of instruments to weave together the varied, colorful tapestry that is American Contemporary music.

Fridays, 1:00-3:00 pm
Instructor: Dr. Ray Briggs
Tuition: $300

Register here

Known as the “The Voice,” “The Chairman of the Board,” “The Sultan of Swoon,” or simply “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) defied simple categorization. As an artist, he carved out a space somewhere between jazz and mainstream popular music. This course will explore the nuances of Sinatra the man and his music that spoke to millions of Americans in the mid-20th century.

Winter Adult History Courses

Mondays, 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Instructor: Dimitris Dodoras
Tuition: $150

In this course, we’ll examine how music sets the tone for some of the most iconic scenes in film history. Students will also analyze how composers techniques and instrumentation contribute to these powerful and memorable movie moments.

Tuesdays, 9:00-11:00 am
Instructor: Dr. Sarkis Baltaian
Tuition: $300

This class examines and explores performance styles and characteristics of some of the greatest pianists of the past. The body of work of such pianists as Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Schnabel, Cortot, Rubinstein, Gould, Horowitz, Arrau, Richter and Sokolov is studied through analysis of recordings.

Winter Quarter: Antheil, Seeger, Nancarrow, Partch, Harrison, Johnston, and American Minimalists
Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 am
Instructor: Dr. Nic Gerpe
Tuition: $300

In our first Quarter, we studied two innovators who were largely responsible for the creation of an “American Sound” in Contemporary Music: Charles Ives and Aaron Copland. In the winter installment of the Mavericks series, we will study composers who took the idea of “innovation” to new extremes: Henry Cowell, John Cage, Conlon Nancarrow, Lou Harrison, and Harry Partch. We will explore mind and ear-bending music which uses conventional instruments in highly unconventional ways, alternate tuning systems, home-made instruments, silence, gamelan, and questions the very definition of music as we know it.

Fridays, 1:00-3:00 pm
Instructor: Dr. Ray Briggs
Tuition: $300

Mel Tormé, nicknamed “The Velvet Fog”, was a musician, singer, composer, arranger, drummer, actor, and author, and a supreme vocal technician whose style encompassed everything from intimate pop crooning to jet-propelled scat improvisations. Johnny Mathis, is a pop singer whose popularity spans over 5 decades of music, and whose popularity is proved by his several dozen gold and platinum albums and a hit every decade of his recording career. His unique voice with “velvety vibrato” has been dubbed, “The Voice of Romance”. In this course, we will explore the long careers of two crooners whose voices are still the mainstays of American popular music.

Tuesdays, 1:00-2:00 pm
Instructor: Dr. Kathryn Eames
Tuition: $150

Using The Royal Conservatory curriculum and materials, adult students will refresh their knowledge and expand their horizons through sequenced instruction in music theory. This enlivening and enlightening course is for beginners through intermediate singers and players, and will include the opportunity to discuss the way that music theory “works” on one’s instrument of study. The Royal Conservatory Prep book is required ($17.95).

About Zoom and PCM Tech Support
Zoom is an easy-to-use video conferencing platform that allows “face-to-face” meetings and classes from the comfort of your home. At PCM, we have dedicated staff members that can help you get set up for the class via phone or email. If you’d like tech support please reach out directly to Stephanie Purschell.