Theory Group Classes
Click on names for bio
Theory is a critical element of our conservatory style music program. We recommend all students take Theory Group Classes to deepen their music foundations and expertise. We follow the Royal Conservatory of Music theory curriculum which consists of 10 levels and generally takes students 2 semesters to finish each level. After finishing the full RCM curriculum, students can prepare and take the official AP Music Theory test exam which helps with College applications.
If students are young beginners, e.g., new with the instrument, please start at the Preparatory level. If the student has some experience, SMAA will evaluate a student's skill and theory level by watching a recent performance or practice video link.
If students are an intermediate theory level or above, they can also take the official RCM theory placement test link below to determine the exact level. The test is free, you only need to create an account and follow their steps:
Our Academy offers composition theory lessons in Stamford, CT. Group lessons are offered once per week for 60 minutes. SMAA’s faculty gently guides students through the basic understanding and construction of music.
Whether as a supplement to certificate programs or for personal growth, all individual lessons can be custom tailored to the specific desires and aspirations of students. Music theory directly furthers a student’s ability to understand and communicate the full meaning of music. SMAA theory classes teach the “language of music”, enabling students to learn and memorize faster, improve sight reading, and render informed interpretations as well as solfegio. These classes are a fantastic addition to regular individual lessons on a given instrument. Registered SMAA students will receive a discount for these invaluable classes.
Music theory builds student musicianship, and directly furthers a student’s ability to understand and communicate full musical meaning. With sufficient theory background, students learn and memorize faster, and generally sight-read better than students without theory knowledge. To develop the ability to hear and manipulate sound mentally, vital for effective musical performance, ear training is strongly emphasized in class. Well developed theory skill also forms the basis for student composition, and/or any styles of improvisation. In theory classes, students learn basic knowledge of note reading in treble and bass clefs, rhythmic values, and simple terminology. As the students progress, they are able to recognize and analyze complex harmonic and rhythmic applications in music. These classes provide the means by which students can approach any musical score or performance with intelligence, creativity and insight. Upper levels cover formal analysis, harmonic procedures, ear-training, and “inner-hearing” as students’ knowledge of music history and literature continues to broaden.
The purpose of studying composition is to encourage and enhance creative thinking in music. Core compositional techniques (voice leading, counterpoint, harmony) and the study of conventional musical forms are essential to a composer’s development. In addition to creating original works, composition students are taught to analyze and compose in a variety of musical styles. Formal instruction in music composition is available at all ability levels. These courses include voice leading, harmony, standard chord progression, voicing procedures, forms, and counterpoint. Completion of Music Theory Fundamentals or an equivalent understanding of music reading is required. Students will be evaluated in a mandatory trial lesson.
Song writing is composition made easy! Geared towards a more informal approach to composition, students of Song Writing will master harmonic progressions, simple rules of voice leading, song forms, and arrangement of texts. Basic proficiency in music reading is strongly recommended, as is experience on a harmonic instrument (guitar, piano, etc.).
Studies in jazz composition include understanding chord notation, deciphering lead sheets, voicing of parts for diverse ensembles, and standard jazz forms. Familiarity with keyboard instruments is strongly recommended but not required. The ability to read music and fulfillment of Intermediate Theory (or an equivalent understanding of basic theory) is a pre-requisite.