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.

June 14 – August 16 (10 Weeks)
Tuesdays: 5:30 – 6:00 pm
Instructor: Renee Gilormini
Tuition: $200

Music Theory Prep is for young students who are just starting lessons and not yet proficient at reading music. Topics include: treble and bass clefs, time signatures, rhythm, notation, and an introduction to famous composers.

Age 9+.

Register here.

June 14 – August 16 (10 Weeks)
Tuesdays: 6:00 – 6:30 pm
Instructor: Renee Gilormini
Tuition: $200

This course is designed for students who have taken theory at PCM. It reviews concepts learned in previous classes to prepare students for the fall.

This class is for students who have completed Theory Prep through Level 2. Please contact the PCM office at or 626.683.3355 for enrollment information.

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 Royal Conservatory curriculum, students will refresh their knowledge and expand their horizons through sequenced instruction in music theory. This course is for beginners through intermediate singers and players. The Royal Conservatory Level 1 book is required ($17.95).

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

Spring Adult History Courses

Mondays: 1:00-2:30 pm (Mar 21 – Jun 6)
Instructor: Dimitris Dodoras
Tuition: $225

Register here

Music in Film is a survey of great film scores from the silent film era to the present. The function of music in film is considered as well as the use of various genres including classical, jazz, and popular music.

Music in Film is a reprise of a course previously offered in 2019.

Tuesdays: 9:00-11:00 am (Mar 22 – May 24)
Instructor: Dr. Sarkis Baltaian
Tuition: $300

Register here

Keyboard Concertos explores piano concerto masterpieces from the Baroque Period through the 20th Century, while examining the philosophical, spiritual, and sociological factors that motivated the composers. Representative works include concertos by Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Saint-Saens, Rachmaninoff, Bartok, Gershwin, Shostakovich, and others.

Keyboard Concertos is a reprise of a course previously offered in 2017.

Spring Quarter: American Minimalists and a Survey of Young Composers

Thursdays: 9:00-11:00 am (Mar 24 – Jun 2)
Instructor: Dr. Nic Gerpe
Tuition: $300

Register here

In the last two sessions of Mavericks, Iconoclasts and Innovators, students studied the music of composers who pushed the envelope with new compositional techniques, incorporating folk music, new tonalities, invented and unconventional instruments, altered tuning systems, and new ways of playing old instruments. In the final session, students will study music by the American minimalists, and then listen to works by current American composers who weave together these different elements into the distinctive American voices of today.

Fridays: 1:00-3:00 pm (Mar 25 – Jun 3)
Instructor: Dr. Ray Briggs
Tuition: $300

Register here

Categorical headings in music are widespread and help to make sense of the tremendous amount of diverse genres. While these distinctions can be useful, they can also hinder our ability to truly appreciate artists who do not fit neatly into one stylistic space. The third installment of a three-part series, this course highlights the remarkable lives and artistry of Don Shirley and Nina Simone, two visionaries who defied simple categorization.

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.