First year undergraduate "theory and ear training"

Posted by: Daffodil

First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/15/13 04:52 AM

How far along in your theory knowledge should you be before you consider tackling a first year undergrad theory and aural training unit?

The text used is Robert Gauldin's "Harmonic Practice in Tonal Music". (I think)

I came back to piano late in life, and completed AMEB grade 8 practical, but haven't studied any theory since I did AMEB grade 4 theory thirty years ago.

I have a good understanding of all the major and minor keys, but know nothing much about harmony, counterpoint,or any advanced concepts except the basics I needed to pass the general knowledge tests and questions about the music for grade 8.

I'm studying history and literature at uni, however I am allowed to choose subjects from other schools within the 'arts' umbrella.

How advanced, theory-wise are first year music undergrads?



Posted by: wr

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/15/13 06:52 AM

Doesn't it depend on the university and the country?
At any rate, the course description should give you the information you seek.

In my own experience, there was no previous knowledge required, other than how to read music. But I have no idea of that's common or not.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/15/13 08:27 AM

I would talk to the theory teacher and see if there are thing you need to brush up on before starting. In my experience, most entry level theory classes have to start at a somewhat basic level due to non-piano majors who have considerably less theory due to more time spent on technical work in lessons. So I think you should be fine, but the teacher will perhaps be able to test you somewhat and assess where you are.
Posted by: Daffodil

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/15/13 08:30 AM

Originally Posted By: wr
Doesn't it depend on the university and the country?
At any rate, the course description should give you the information you seek.

In my own experience, there was no previous knowledge required, other than how to read music. But I have no idea of that's common or not.


That makes sense - it would depend on the individual university.

Here's a copy and paste of the course description:


This unit is the first of a sequence of four units that integrates the development of aural skills with the theoretical understanding of music through listening, analysis, performance, notation and composition. It introduces the student to the study and practical application of fundamental theoretical concepts in the Western Classical and Jazz traditions. Areas of study include identifying and understanding timbre, intervals, chords, metre, rhythm, tonality, scales, melodies, chord function, and part writing.

Outcomes


Upon completion of this unit students will have developed and improved basic skills necessary for the analysis, performance, and memorization of music.


I'm thinking there wouldn't be heaps of prior knowledge needed, but I'm scared of jumping in over my head.

I guess I just need to do the sensible thing and actually talk with someone in the faculty.
Posted by: Daffodil

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/15/13 08:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I would talk to the theory teacher and see if there are thing you need to brush up on before starting. In my experience, most entry level theory classes have to start at a somewhat basic level due to non-piano majors who have considerably less theory due to more time spent on technical work in lessons. So I think you should be fine, but the teacher will perhaps be able to test you somewhat and assess where you are.


Thanks. I will talk with them on Monday. Sometimes just typing out your thoughts helps you to work out what to do.
Posted by: wr

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/15/13 06:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Daffodil
Originally Posted By: wr
Doesn't it depend on the university and the country?
At any rate, the course description should give you the information you seek.

In my own experience, there was no previous knowledge required, other than how to read music. But I have no idea of that's common or not.


That makes sense - it would depend on the individual university.

Here's a copy and paste of the course description:


This unit is the first of a sequence of four units that integrates the development of aural skills with the theoretical understanding of music through listening, analysis, performance, notation and composition. It introduces the student to the study and practical application of fundamental theoretical concepts in the Western Classical and Jazz traditions. Areas of study include identifying and understanding timbre, intervals, chords, metre, rhythm, tonality, scales, melodies, chord function, and part writing.

Outcomes


Upon completion of this unit students will have developed and improved basic skills necessary for the analysis, performance, and memorization of music.


I'm thinking there wouldn't be heaps of prior knowledge needed, but I'm scared of jumping in over my head.

I guess I just need to do the sensible thing and actually talk with someone in the faculty.


Since the course description talks about introducing the concepts, I'm pretty sure you don't need to know anything in advance. And it doesn't give any prerequisites, which it should if there were any. But asking about it won't do any harm.
Posted by: MarkH

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/15/13 08:37 PM

My experience also was that no previous knowledge was assumed other than reading notes on both staffs, although even that was a little rusty in some of my single staff instrumentalists.

There was always a pretty large spread in the scores my first year, and it seemed to me that pianists and violinists/violists did the best. This was confirmed my second year when they split us up into the advanced class and the somewhat remedial class - the advanced class contained essentially all of the pianists and violinists/violists, and almost none of the vocalists wink

You're gonna be fine.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/21/13 01:45 AM

In California (I'll refer only to the place with which I'm familiar), undergrad music theory takes 2 years to complete (4 semesters). The prerequisite to the first semester is knowing how to read music (I think on all staves), build triads, build major and minor scales, and identify key signatures (circle of fifths) which can be learned in an additional one-semester class. With as much as I've benefited from learning theory (it translates to your playing far more than you'd think), I recommend learning as much as possible; like me, you may just find that there's no better place than a structured college class setting to learn it.
Posted by: tomtomasino

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/21/13 04:35 PM

In my first year theory, way back in 1963, there were two fellows, one on either side of me, both of whom were seriously asking, during the first week or so, what were all the black dots about. They both worked hard, very hard, and got through two grinding years of music theory--I'll take a little credit here for helping them through, thank you--and ultimately, they were both very successful in music.

About ten years ago, I was tracked down by one of them, and invited to attend his retirement ceremony. He had become one of the very best high school choir directors in the state of Minnesota. There were literally hundreds of former students who attended the ceremony, all eager to tell of what a wonderful musician he was, and how he had positively influenced their lives through his love of music and his personal character.

1963 was a long time ago, and I've lost touch with the other one, but last I heard--maybe thirty years or more ago--he had received a Phd in music ed, and was on a tenure track at a college in Missouri.

Not too bad for a couple of high school baritones who didn't know what all the black dots were for -- but just knew they wanted to be in music.

TomTomasino
aka
Tomasinoz
Posted by: drumour

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/22/13 06:12 AM

I find this a bit weird, because:

In 1972 1st year BMus at Edinburgh University, the Harmony & Counterpoint component required 3-part Palestrina, Bach 2-part invention, Bach Chorale, Haydn/Mozart quartet, Schubert song accomp. (You were also expected, pianist or not, to score-read any of the above at sight.) School "A"-level music prepared you for that.

In my world University wasn't for rudiments. It's probably changed now, though, as the school curricula don't really provide enough preparation for all that.
Posted by: wr

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/22/13 06:50 AM

Originally Posted By: drumour
I find this a bit weird, because:

In 1972 1st year BMus at Edinburgh University, the Harmony & Counterpoint component required 3-part Palestrina, Bach 2-part invention, Bach Chorale, Haydn/Mozart quartet, Schubert song accomp. (You were also expected, pianist or not, to score-read any of the above at sight.) School "A"-level music prepared you for that.

In my world University wasn't for rudiments. It's probably changed now, though, as the school curricula don't really provide enough preparation for all that.


That's very interesting. What is "A" level music? I suspect we had no equivalent in the US.

For me, the only requirement for getting into the university was a certain level of what they called a "grade-point" average in high-school, plus certain threshold scores on what are called "college admissions tests". Once you did get to the university, you could do what was called "testing out" of things you already knew. So, if I was already up to speed on first-year music theory, I could take a test to prove it, and if I passed, skip it and move on to the next courses.
Posted by: drumour

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/22/13 07:27 AM

In England and Wales A-Levels were school leaving exams taken in upper sixth form - year 13 I expect. A person would typically sit 3 (sometimes 4) A-Levels at the end of a two-year course. Three A-Levels was the usual prerequisite for entering University as an undergraduate.
Posted by: Pogorelich.

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/22/13 09:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I would talk to the theory teacher and see if there are thing you need to brush up on before starting. In my experience, most entry level theory classes have to start at a somewhat basic level due to non-piano majors who have considerably less theory due to more time spent on technical work in lessons. So I think you should be fine, but the teacher will perhaps be able to test you somewhat and assess where you are.


Pianists also spend time on technical work in lessons. And we practice a helll of a lot more than most other instrumentalists (maybe string players are an exception). So that's not an excuse for non-pianists not to learn theory. Usually I'm quite appalled by the lack of knowledge on the subject from instrumentalists. At least basic things have to be known!

In fact, I never ever learned theory from any of my piano teachers. (It was a mandatory course in the pre-college program I was in.)
Posted by: Auntie Lynn

Re: First year undergraduate "theory and ear training" - 02/22/13 09:17 AM

I well remember my first year in "Music 101" - the first semester there were 45 people, the second semester, there were nine survivors...