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.

Winter Adult History Courses

10 weeks

Mondays: 1:00 – 2:30 pm (Jan 3 – Mar 7, 2022)
Instructor: Dimitris Dodoras
Tuition: $225

Register here.

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 (Jan 11 – Mar 15, 2022)
Instructor: Dr. Sarkis Baltaian
Tuition: $300

Register here.

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 (Jan 6 – Mar 10, 2022)
Instructor: Dr. Nic Gerpe
Tuition: $300

Register here.

In the first Quarter, students 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, students will study composers who took the idea of “innovation” to new extremes: Henry Cowell, John Cage, Conlon Nancarrow, Lou Harrison, and Harry Partch. Students 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 (Jan 7 – Mar 11, 2022)
Instructor: Dr. Ray Briggs
Tuition: $300

Register here.

Though American popular music is commonly neatly packaged, categorized, and presented to the masses, there are artists who do not fit into such a paradigm. Stylistic headings like jazz, swing, crooning, and pop fail to convey the complexities of such individuals. This course will examine the multi-faceted talents of Sammy Davis, Jr., a.k.a. “Mr. Wonderful” (1925-1990) and Mel Tormé, a.k.a. “The Velvet Fog” (1925-1999), two artists who were contemporaries of one another. Both men garnered numerous accolades as child prodigies, developed skills as instrumentalists and vocalists, rose to the level of pop icons, but interestingly had very different career paths and life experiences. The class will highlight the musical output of the two as well as provide some social and cultural contextualization to foster a richer understanding of the men and their music.

Tuesdays: 1:00-2:00 pm (Jan 4 – Mar 8, 2022)
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 Level 1 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.