Music Theory

Why is this part of the curriculum?   Theory is at the core of every musician’s success – from understanding omission parentheses and brackets to interpreting a handbells-used chart, to simply using appropriate verbiage for various musical concepts.  For both ringer and director alike, a working knowledge of music theory helps to ensure greater success in comprehending rhythms, understanding key changes, and creating music rather than just playing the notes and rhythm.

What will I learn? (click on the course title at the right for detailed information on that course, including suggested pre-work)

Music Theory 1 – Building on the basics of note-reading and rhythmic constructions Rhythm, basic keys & the circle of fifths, building chords and scales, basic score navigation, common performance markings and terms, as well as ear-training in the form of rhythmic dictation (i.e., “write down what you hear”), and identification of basic intervals and major/minor triads.

Prerequisite: None, although this is not an introduction to reading music. 

Music Theory 2 – Delving deeper More complex rhythms, intermediate performance markings and terms, more advanced keys and score navigation, parallel major/minor relationships, triad construction, and more advanced rhythmic dictation, interval and chord identification.

Prerequisite: Music Theory 1.

Music Theory 3 – Plumbing the depths Advanced terms, basic liturgical modes, pentatonic scales, and harmonic and melodic minor scales, extended chords, inversions, and augmented sixth chords.  Simple harmonic analysis and part-writing are introduced, and more advanced performance markings are discussed.  Advanced rhythms, including tuplets, are covered.  Ear-training continues with intervals, triads (Major/minor/augmented/diminished), and longer/more complex rhythmic dictation exercises.

Prerequisite: Music Theory 2 and Arranging and Composing 1

Testing Out

The tests for Music Theory 1 and 2 may be offered at National or area events, see the SCHEDULE PAGE.

Faculty

Master Teacher (all levels)

Michael Glasgow

Music Theory 1 Faculty

Joy Toll-Chandler
Ann Wood

Music Theory 1 – Building on the basics of note-reading and rhythmic constructions will ensure a basic working knowledge of music theory, both generally and as it pertains to handbells and handchimes.

This class is NOT a “music fundamentals” course, but a music theory course.  It assumes students already have a solid working knowledge of basic treble- and bass-clef reading and standard time signatures/note values; an understanding of what sharps and flats do; and, ideally, a general navigation of the notes of the piano keyboard.

In order to successfully pass this course as part of the certification curriculum, students must be able to:

  • Know mechanical “parts” of a handbell score (barline, notehead, stem, beam, grand staff, etc.) and pitch names for C3-C6 (handbell designation C4-C7).
  • Understand the one-octave aural transpositional nature of handbells and handchimes as instruments.
  • Recognize and identify rhythmic values of notes and rests from sixteenth notes through whole notes (including the mathematical comprehension of dotted notes and triplets).
  • Understand measured construction of music and time signatures related to perfect simple and perfect compound meters (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 2/2, 3/2, 6/8, 9/8 (3+3+3), 12/8), including abbreviations for “common time” and “cut time.”
  • Recognize key signatures and associated scales up to 3 sharps and 3 flats, inclusive; understand and identify relative-minor equivalencies.
  • Comprehend basic dynamic markings (ppp through fff), diminuendo/decrescendo, crescendo, mezzo; as well as understand common basic performance markings.
  • Recognize intervals of octave, perfect fifth, perfect fourth, major/minor third; understand difference between prime unison and colloquial unison (e.g., “unison at the octave”).
  • Have a basic understanding of triadic harmony and chord construction, and the difference/relationship between major and minor triads.
  • Recognize and understand basic enharmonic equivalents.
  • Comprehend simple score navigation: repeat signs, basic endings, D.S., D.C., Coda.
  • Evaluate a handbell score and create a Handbells Used Chart for a three-octave piece.
  • Replicate any rhythm which may appear in a handbell score of Level 1, 2 or 3.

Required Text (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchimes Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, R101, 2010

Recommended Texts

  • Randel, Don Michael (ed.), New Harvard Dictionary of Music, The, Harvard University Press/Belknap Press. ISBN 0674011635 (4th edition), 2003
  • Various handbell music as recommended by instructor
  • Surmani, Andrew, Surmani, Karen Farnum, Manus, Morton. Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians, Alfred Publishing, 2004,  ISBN 9780739036358 (includes 2 CDs and answers)

Testing Out

The test for Music Theory 1 may be offered at National or area events, see the SCHEDULE PAGE.

How Long Is this Class?

This class may be taught in two to three  75-minute class periods, depending on enrollment.  These classroom sessions are followed by an additional period for testing, in which each registrant completes a written test, ear-training tests, and individual testing on rhythm.

What Should I Study Ahead of Time?

  • You can download and print the COURSE OUTLINE and SYLLABUS for review.
  • Watch for music theory classes at the Virtual Bell Academy.
  • If you can get through books 1 and 2 of the Surmani text, you’re in good shape!
  • If you want an online resource, teoria.com is free and offers tutorials on everything from intervals to scales to chords, and exercises on everything from key signatures to interval and rhythmic ear-training.
  • If you’ve not had a college-level music theory course, ear-training (learning to hear and identify intervals, chord types) and rhythmic dictation (writing down rhythms after hearing them several times) can be new and daunting. You can practice those skills at teoria.com and www.musictheory.net.

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Paper for dictation practice
  • Several sharp pencils
  • Eraser (might need one beyond what’s on the pencils)

 

Music Theory 2- Delving deeper will ensure a solid working knowledge of music theory, both generally and as it pertains to handbells and handchimes.
Prerequisite: Music Theory 1

In order to successfully pass this course as part of the certification curriculum, students must be able to:

  • Know pitch names for C2-C7 (handbell designation C3-C8).
  • Recognize and identify rhythmic values of notes and rests from sixteenth notes through double-whole notes (including tied notes and the mathematical comprehension of duplets [in compound meters] and double-dotted notes).
  • Understand time signatures related to imperfect/odd meters (including 9/8 as 2+2+2+3 and variations) and composite meters.
  • Recognize key signatures and associated scales up to 5 sharps and 5 flats, inclusive.
  • Understand and identify relative-minor equivalencies, as well as parallel major/minor relationships.
  • Understand common intermediate performance markings.
  • Visually and aurally recognize all 12 intervals from minor second to octave; aurally recognize major and minor triads.
  • Have a more advanced understanding/recognition of triadic harmony and chord construction, including triadic inversions, arpeggios, added tones.
  • Thoroughly recognize and understand enharmonic equivalents, including double-sharps and double-flats.
  • Comprehend more advanced score navigation, including “endings within endings,” D.S.S., etc.
  • Understand the concepts of rhythmic augmentation and diminution of melodies.
  • Evaluate a handbell score and create a Handbells Used Chart for a five-octave piece.
  • Tap or sing any rhythm which may appear in a handbell score of Level 1, 2, 3 or 4.
  • Quickly recognize recapitulated passages in a handbell score, both verbatim and slightly varied.
  • Transcribe the rhythm of a simple four-measure passage, on hearing it played no more than three times (e.g., rhythmic dictation).

Required Text (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchimes Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, R101, 2010

Recommended Texts

  • Randel, Don Michael (ed.), New Harvard Dictionary of Music, The, Harvard University Press/Belknap Press. ISBN 0674011635 (4th edition), 2003
  • Various handbell music as recommended by instructor
  • Surmani, Andrew, Surmani, Karen Farnum, Manus, Morton. Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians, Alfred Publishing, 2004,  ISBN 9780739036358 (includes 2 CDs and answers)

Testing Out

The tests for Music Theory 1 and 2 maybe offered at National or area events, see the SCHEDULE PAGE.

How Long is this Class?

This class is typically taught in three 75-minute class periods. These classroom sessions are followed by a fourth period for testing, in which each registrant completes a written test, ear-training tests, and individual testing on rhythm.

What Should I Study Ahead of Time?

You can download and print the COURSE OUTLINE and SYLLABUS for review.

  • Complete the Surmani text
  • Review ear training (interval and chord identification) as well as rhythmic dictation. Remember you can go to www.teoria.com  and www.musictheory.net for these.

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Paper for dictation practice
  • Several sharp pencils
  • Eraser (might need one beyond what’s on the pencils)
  • Materials from the previous (prerequisite) classes.  The Intervals/They’re Playing Our Song handout is especially important, as the “song assistance” titles are a cumulative process.  Handouts are always supplied, but having the ones from the previous classes (especially the one mentioned above) in a comprehensive “theory certification” notebook will allow students to quickly refer back to previous classes’ material while studying for the class currently being taken.

Music Theory 3 – Plumbing the depths  will ensure a professional-level working knowledge of music theory, both generally and as it pertains to handbells and handchimes.
Prerequisites: Music Theory 2 & Arranging & Composing I

 

In order to successfully pass this course as part of the certification curriculum, students must be able to:

  • Know pitch names for C1-C8 (handbell designation C2-C9).
  • Recognize and identify rhythmic values of notes and rests from thirty-second notes through double-whole notes (including tied notes, compound/composite triplets, and other mathematical tuplets).
  • Recognize/create any key signature (and associated scales, including relative-minor equivalencies) in the Circle of Fifths; understand cross-relations at the “turning point” of the Circle of Fifths (e.g., F# Major and G-flat Major).
  • Have a basic understanding of natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales, pentatonic scales, and the following [modern] modes: Ionian (major), Aeolian (natural minor) and Dorian (Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian and Locrian may be touched on if pacing permits).
  • Understand common advanced performance markings.
  • Recognize characteristics and names of major, minor, diminished and augmented chords, as well as sixth, seventh and ninth chords.
  • Understand chord inversions and why certain bell sets must omit various notes in parentheses, brackets, etc., to preserve continuity of lines/phrases.
  • Understand simple harmonic analysis and how chords fit within a standard progression.
  • Evaluate a handbell score and create a Handbells Used Chart for a seven-octave piece.
  • Tap or sing any rhythm which may appear in any handbell score, of any Level.
  • “Build” any major, minor, diminished or augmented triad, in root position and any inversion.
  • Evaluate a handbell score and identify recapitulated passages, both verbatim and slightly varied.
  • Add parentheses, brackets, etc., to a “five-octave” piece of handbell music, to make it appropriate for three or four octaves as well.
  • Perform simple harmonic analysis of a chord progression.
  • Transcribe the rhythm of a simple eight-measure passage (or a more complex four-measure passage), on hearing it played no more than three times (e.g., rhythmic dictation).

Required Text (purchase before coming to class)

  • Handbell and Handchimes Notation Guide, AGEHR Music, R101, 2010

Recommended Texts

  • Randel, Don Michael (ed.), New Harvard Dictionary of Music, The, Harvard University Press/Belknap Press. ISBN 0674011635 (4th edition), 2003
  • Various handbell music as recommended by instructor
  • Surmani, Andrew, Surmani, Karen Farnum, Manus, Morton. Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians, Alfred Publishing, 2004,  ISBN 9780739036358 (includes 2 CDs and answers)

How Long is this Class?

This class is typically taught in three 75-minute class periods. These classroom sessions are followed by a fourth period for testing, in which each registrant completes a written test, ear-training tests, and individual testing on rhythm.

What Should I Study Ahead of Time?

You can download and print the COURSE OUTLINE and SYLLABUS for review.

  • Review your notes from previous classes (both Music Theory and Arranging and Composing)

What Should I Bring to Class?

  • Paper for dictation practice
  • Several sharp pencils
  • Eraser (might need one beyond what’s on the pencils)
  • Materials from the previous (prerequisite) classes.  The Intervals/They’re Playing Our Song handout is especially important, as the “song assistance” titles are a cumulative process.  Handouts are always supplied, but having the ones from the previous classes (especially the one mentioned above) in a comprehensive “theory certification” notebook will allow students to quickly refer back to previous classes’ material while studying for the class currently being taken.