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/Composition 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.

June 12 – July 17
Fridays 4:30 – 6:00 pm
Instructor: Dmitris Dodoras

Tuition: $180

This class provides students the opportunity to master a professional music editing program that is commonly used in the music industry. Students will explore the essentials of recording, audio editing, and post-production effects, and will be given weekly projects to develop their skills and experience with the software. Students will also explore music composition methods and styles throughout the learning process.

Register here.

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

Sign up for a music theory class online!

Spring 2020 Adult History Courses

Register for music history courses here!

Instructor: Dr. Ray Briggs
Schedule: 10 Weeks (Apr 10 – May 29)
Fridays: 1 – 3:15 p.m.
Tuition: $300

Introduction Meeting on Friday, April 3 at 1:00 p.m. E-mail music@pasadenaconservatory.org for more information.

Since its inchoate stages, jazz in the United States has been a hybrid music, fusing African and European elements into a seamless whole. Moreover, given the centrality of black religious expression to African American culture and American popular culture in general, it is no surprise then that it has been a significant shaping force throughout the development of jazz. This course will survey the ways in which the black church experience has informed jazz. Particular emphasis will be placed on significant composers and performers who have taken inspiration from the church, including Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Horace Silver, Wynton Marsalis and Eric Reed.

Register here.

About Zoom and PCM Tech Support
Zoom is an easy-to-us 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 Eugene Kim or Stephanie Purschell.

Instructor: Dr. Sarkis Baltaian
Schedule: 10 Weeks (Apr 7 – Jun 9)
Tuesdays: 9:00 – 11:15 am
Tuition: $300

Introduction Meeting on Tuesday, March 31st at 9:00 a.m. E-mail music@pasadenaconservatory.org for more information.

This class surveys the non-standard keyboard concerto repertoire from the Classical Period through 20th Century. Representative works include lesser-known masterpieces by Clementi, Salieri, Czerny, Kuhlau, Hummel, Field, Bruch, Sauer, Clara Schumann, d’ Albert, Busoni, Dvorak, MacDowell, Scriabin, Mednter, Poulenc, Lepatti, Barber, Copland, Britten, Ginastera, Khachaturian, Arutunian, Vladigerov, Kabalevsky, Krenek and Kapustin. Lectures will include analysis of the music, focusing on performance practices as demonstrated by recordings of the works.

Register here.

About Zoom and PCM Tech Support
Zoom is an easy-to-us 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 Eugene Kim or Stephanie Purschell.

Instructor: Nic Gerpe
Schedule: 6 weeks (Apr 9 – May 14)
Fridays: 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Tuition: $180

Introduction Meeting on Thursday, April 2 at 9:30 a.m. E-mail music@pasadenaconservatory.org for more information.

The history of classical art music is still being written. Right now, incredible concert music is being written by composers of all nationalities, ages and backgrounds. But how did we get here, and how do we listen to and appreciate this varied, deep, often thorny and wild repertoire?

In this course, students will become acquainted with the history of contemporary classical music, including different movements and aesthetics, major composers and visionaries, and how historical events in the 20th and 21st Centuries have influenced different composers and shaped the modern musical landscape. Together, we’ll explore the music of early modern composers such as Debussy, Schoenberg and Stravinsky, and how their legacies continue to influence the composers of our time. Students will become acquainted with contemporary repertoire through a combination of lecture, listening and score study, and will come away from the class with a better understanding and appreciation of modern music.

The class will explore contemporary performance practices such as prepared piano and extended techniques, electronic and microtonal music through live performance demonstrations. Students will also have the opportunity to meet, interact with and learn from guest composers and performers specializing in the contemporary music field, so as to become immersed in the music of our age.

Register here.

About Zoom and PCM Tech Support
Zoom is an easy-to-us 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 Eugene Kim or Stephanie Purschell.

Instructor: Dimitris Dodoras
Schedule: 10 weeks (Apr 10 – May 29)
Fridays: 9:30 am – 10:30 am
Tuition: $150

Introduction Meeting on Friday, April 3 at 9:30 a.m. E-mail music@pasadenaconservatory.org for more information.

A class on the use of existing classical music in films and their impact such as Dead Poets Society, The Red Violin, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Sophie’s Choices, Death in Venice, Fantasia, etc.

Also, discussing composers imitating the style of classical music to complement a period film with examples from The Piano, Atonement, Quills, The Favourite, The English Patient, Restoration, etc.

Register here.

About Zoom and PCM Tech Support
Zoom is an easy-to-us 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 Eugene Kim or Stephanie Purschell.

Group Class Offerings

Call 626.683.3355 for more information.

Instructors: Dr. Susan Svrcek and Dr. Nic Gerpe
Saturdays | Begins January 2020
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Tuition: $360

Ages 10 and above

ensemblePROVA is a new-music performing ensemble and class. This class is for students who are willing to be adventurous, take risks, and explore musical sounds in wild and experimental ways. The class will introduce students to many contemporary performance techniques such as group improvisation, spontaneous composition, crazy rhythms, and ways of playing their instrument that they never thought possible. Students will discover through the exploration of modern sounds and compositional techniques how our contemporary performance practice links us to the great composers of the past. Instructors will provide students the opportunity to work with living composers to continue the tradition of musical creation, and to compose new works of their own.