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#1967057 - 09/30/12 08:07 PM AP Music Theory
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1214
Loc: NJ
Do any fellow teachers prepare their students for this test? I went on the website to view the teacher guide, which was over 200 pages long. Just curious as to how long a piano lesson would have to be in order to also incorporate enough prep work for this testing, which IMO, is fairly difficult. Much of what is included in the test I learned IN COLLEGE, not prior to college.

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#1967067 - 09/30/12 08:29 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
Much of what is included in the test I learned IN COLLEGE, not prior to college.


Well, that's why most universities accept a 5 on the AP test as equivalent to the first course in music theory for music majors.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1967071 - 09/30/12 08:37 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Our charter high school offers it. In fact, all students must take 4 years of musicianship and participate in an ensemble. They frequently do very well on the AP Music Theory test as a result.

It would be difficult to cover this material in a traditional private piano lesson. I can't imagine doing it that way.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1967119 - 09/30/12 11:02 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
If your student is advanced enough in their theory, they can always start to study the same material without really preparing for the test. RCM does this with their post-Rudiment tests (Intro, Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Harmony; Counterpoint; etc).

My brother is currently preparing for the AP exam outside of a classroom. He is well ahead in terms of theory over his ability to play, simply because he liked theory a lot. So he purchased an AP prep book, an AP 'textbook' (the Julie Johnson one, which is NOT enough for an AP text, I think, but rather a general overview of the concepts), and will also be preparing for the RCM exams in Harmony and such.

At every school in my district (well, where I graduated a handful of years ago), nothing is actually required to take the course, but the recommendation is:

-previous private music study
-take the Beginning Music Theory course if not
-concurrent enrollment in an ensemble

In the end, my brother probably won't take the AP exam because almost NO school accepts it for credit or placement for music theory. Instead, he'll just use it as a guideline for some material to use as well as rely on the practice tests to, well, test himself.
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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#1967133 - 09/30/12 11:35 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: kayvee]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5593
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: kayvee
In the end, my brother probably won't take the AP exam because almost NO school accepts it for credit or placement for music theory.

I'm pretty sure the majority of the kids who take that class just want an easy A and a weighted 5 to boost their GPA. Or so they thought...
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1967138 - 09/30/12 11:49 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: AZNpiano]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: kayvee
In the end, my brother probably won't take the AP exam because almost NO school accepts it for credit or placement for music theory.

I'm pretty sure the majority of the kids who take that class just want an easy A and a weighted 5 to boost their GPA. Or so they thought...


Funny enough, those are the exact same kids who come out of the course talking about how it was the hardest class they'd ever taken during high school.... smile
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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#1967146 - 10/01/12 12:55 AM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5593
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
Do any fellow teachers prepare their students for this test?

Yes, I have prepared many students for that test. It is extremely difficult especially if you don't have perfect pitch or have very bad relative pitch. Perfect pitch gives you a major advantage for a large portion of the test. It is ridiculous to ask any kids without perfect pitch to develop--between August and the following May--the listening/dictation skills required for the listening portion.

Also, if you don't sing (or at least hum in tune) you can kiss 10% of your score good-bye. If you're not proficient at piano or another instrument AND be able to read multiple clefs, then the test will be very hard. Another major complaint is that they don't play the examples enough times for you to answer all the questions, so if you move slowly or take forever to analyze chords or notice musical patterns, you're basically dead duck.

Oh, did I mention all these things aren't the hardest part of the test??? 4-part writing is nuts! Some of our local school districts have the WORST teachers for AP Music Theory. My students all passed because they study piano with me, and I covered a lot of this stuff for their CM tests.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1967215 - 10/01/12 08:33 AM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
My sons' high school has a very good AP music class, taught by the band director who is a good musician. Unfortunately, my youngest had a schedule conflict and couldn't fit it in. He had a free period, so the teacher set him up to study it independently. That's not sufficient for seriously taking the exam, so he didn't, but it is a good way to prepare for the college class!

He didn't particularly like the sight-singing section. The silly machine kept marking him down for being in the wrong register ... grin

Actually, that was one part of the course he didn't spend much time working on.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1967297 - 10/01/12 12:59 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: Minniemay]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1267
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
Our charter high school offers it. In fact, all students must take 4 years of musicianship and participate in an ensemble. They frequently do very well on the AP Music Theory test as a result.

It would be difficult to cover this material in a traditional private piano lesson. I can't imagine doing it that way.


If as student has been participating each year in MTAC's Certificate of Merit program, does that give them an edge? I've heard that CM Lev 9 students can test out of first year college theory.
_________________________
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

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#1967300 - 10/01/12 01:06 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
It gives them some edge, but they will not have done any sight singing or 4 part writing.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1967357 - 10/01/12 03:13 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Go on, then, what's AP? And come to mention it, what's CM?
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1967366 - 10/01/12 03:36 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Sorry for the lingo:

AP = Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement System: College Board

CM = Certificate of Merit

MTAC website
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1967373 - 10/01/12 03:48 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: Piano*Dad]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1214
Loc: NJ
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Quote:
Much of what is included in the test I learned IN COLLEGE, not prior to college.


Well, that's why most universities accept a 5 on the AP test as equivalent to the first course in music theory for music majors.


Hi PianoDad, I attended a highly rated college, and my first music theory course definitely did not cover all that is included in the AP theory test. However, I would have breezed through all my college level theory classes had I been lucky enough to attend a high school that prepared students for the AP exam.

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#1967378 - 10/01/12 03:58 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10422
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Was your intro music theory course required of majors, or was it a preliminary course before the main sequence? Many schools have an intro music theory class that doesn't count toward the major. It serves as a general education course and as a basic theory class for people who have had no serious theory training at all.

And many universities are a touch leery of the AP exam process. We see all too many students come in with good AP marks, who skip the intro class, and then flounder in the next level up. If the AP music class is an exception, that's heartening.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#1967396 - 10/01/12 04:41 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
MaggieGirl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 493
My son took enough AP courses in high school to start his freshman year in college as a sophomore. It was a huge money saver for us. Music theory was not one of them (he was a music major but it didn't work with his schedule). AP classes are supposed to cover the same info as a college course. Even if a university doesn't count them as credit, they can be used effectively as waivers for freshman classes.

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#1967400 - 10/01/12 04:51 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: Piano*Dad]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Thanks.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1967403 - 10/01/12 04:55 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5593
Loc: Orange County, CA
My experience with helping students study for the AP Music Theory test is that the listening skills involved are extremely complex and very difficult to teach. Some of my other non-AP students are already struggling to hear individual intervals. Can you imagine them dictating a 4-bar phrase (only the 1st bar is given) by hearing an example only 3 times?

This is not a test on how much info you can memorize, which is what they do in some subjects. You can cram and study a lot and then ace several other AP tests. Not for Music Theory. It tests skills to an extreme; it's almost like they're testing the students' musical ability.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1967416 - 10/01/12 05:10 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1214
Loc: NJ
PianoDad, I don't recall an intro music theory class in college, just right into Theory I, II and III. I found it very difficult at that time (maybe b/c I had a full time job while practicing and giving lessons at the same time). The Music History classes included some lessons on listening. It was interesting how many freshman in college could not distinguish between a symphony and a piano concerto, or a quartet and a sonata.

To the degree that AZN describes the AP testing, it would seem to me that any student looking for that type of training would need a theory teacher more than a piano teacher.

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#1967424 - 10/01/12 05:18 PM Re: AP Music Theory [Re: chasingrainbows]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Just because you attended a highly-rated college doesn't mean your theory courses were taught thoroughly.

I went to a very fine undergraduate school, but my music ed courses were practically worthless because the person that taught them was inadequate. The year I did my student teaching, he did not return to the college because he didn't get tenure. My other music courses were stellar, but sometimes you get one bad apple.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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