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. All theory classes are currently available online.

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.

Summer Theory for Kids *ONLINE*

Instructor: Renee Gilormini
Schedule: 8 weeks (Jun 27 – August 22)
Saturdays: 10:30 – 11:00 am
Tuition: $160

Designed for students who have taken theory at PCM, this course will review concepts learned in previous classes to prepare students for the fall.

Register here.

Instructor: Renee Gilormini
Schedule: 6 weeks* (Jun 27 – August 8)
Saturdays: 9:30 – 10:00 am
Tuition: $120

In this course, students expand their knowledge of key signatures to include relative minors (one sharp or flat only), 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.

Register here.

Instructor: Kathryn Eames
Schedule: 8 weeks (Jun 22 – August 10)
Mondays: 4:30 – 5:00 pm
Tuition: $160

Students expand their knowledge of key signatures to two sharps and flats (major and minor) 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.

Register here.

Instructor: Kathryn Eames
Schedule: 8 weeks (Jun 22 – August 10)
Mondays: 5:30 – 6:00 pm
Tuition: $160

Students learn about double sharps and flats, as well as augmented and diminished intervals.  They learn how to transpose a melody up by any interval, and are introduced to half and authentic cadences.  Students go more in depth into the characteristics of the Baroque and Classical eras.

Register here.

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

Sign up for a music theory class online!

Summer 2020 Adult History Courses

Register for music history courses here!

Instructor: Nic Gerpe
Schedule: 9 weeks (Jun 18 – August 13)
Fridays: 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Tuition: $270

Zoom link: https://bit.ly/NicGerpe

In this upcoming class, we will begin our discussion with the music of today and reflect on how we got here. We will explore the works of living composers since 1960, such as John Corigliano, George Crumb, and Kaija Saariaho, to gain an appreciation for today’s most modern music. We will also examine the lineage of today’s composers, and the earlier 20th century musical styles and aesthetics that influenced and shaped their compositions, with an emphasis on living American and local composers. We will examine the younger generation of composers like Jennifer Higdon, Nico Muhly, and Timo Andres, and see how their work has been influenced by everything from John Cage and Steve Reich to Jazz and Pop idioms. We will look at the music of composers including Arvo Pärt and Morten Lauridsen, and trace influences from Shostakovich and Schoenberg to Renaissance Polyphony and Gregorian Chant.

Register here.

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 Eugene Kim or Stephanie Purschell.

Instructor: Dimitris Dodoras
Schedule: 10 weeks (June 26 – August 28)
Fridays: 9:30 – 11:00 am
Tuition: $225

Zoom link: https://bit.ly/DimitrisDodoras

A class exploring well-known film composers from the late 20th century to the present, and the stylistic elements that distinguish them from one another. The course will cover composers such as Thomas Newman, Alan Silvestri, Rachel Portman, James Newton Howard, James Horner, and, this years Academy Award winner, Hildur Guðnadóttir.

Register here.

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 Eugene Kim or Stephanie Purschell.

Instructor: Dr. Ray Briggs
Schedule: 10 weeks (June 25 – August 27)
Thursdays: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Tuition: $300

Zoom link: https://bit.ly/RayBriggs

Celebrated as a microcosm of the world, California is a place of astounding cultural diversity, nonpareil to any other region in the United States. Nowhere is this more evident than in the vast output of musical traditions. From the longstanding music of indigenous peoples, Latinx artforms, African American sacred and secular styles, to psychedelic rock and the counterculture in the sixties and hip hop in the latter twentieth century, the richness of music cultures speaks to and for the diverse population.

As the first of a two-part series, this segment will highlight the state’s noteworthy contributions in rhythm and blues, gospel, and country music.

Register here.

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 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.