This course can help prepare students who wish to continue their musical education after high school, as well as students who wish to perform exceptionally well on the SAT exam. The level of aptitude in this subject will assist students wishing to excel on the SAT and in college courses.
While there is no formal prerequisite for an AP Music Theory class, students should have a basic understanding of musical terms and composing. Students should also have some experience with some aspect of music, whether it is vocal performance, composing, or playing an instrument. Students should take more basic music classes to prepare themselves for the coursework and assignments that come with AP Music Theory. This course is designed to replicate college courses in musical theory, and should be prepared for as such.
According to the College Board’s website, a major component of Advanced Placement Music Theory is the introduction of musical theory students to musical material and procedures of the Common Practice period. The course may be broken down into periods such as Basic Musicianship, Elementary theory, Harmony and Diction, and Structure of Music. These subjects may also be taught as individual courses, focusing on one aspect of music theory (such as harmony) over another.
Music theory may also integrate certain aspects of melody, harmony, texture, rhythm, form and musical analysis into more concentrated study over the course of the year. Music theory classes may also teach skills such as diction, sight-seeing, and elementary composition. These are key components to any college career focused on musical training. Most musical theory classes will require students to acquire at least basic instruction in either voice training or performance training on an instrument.
Advanced Placement Music Theory (or AP Music Theory) is a course and examination offered in the United States by the College Board as part of the Advanced Placement Program to high school students who wish to earn credit for a college level music theory course. Some of the material covered in the course involves advanced sight reading, in-depth terminology, musical phrasing and composition, music history, chord structure and cadences, and other areas of music theory. This course is recommended for students with particularly strong abilities in music and college music majors.
AP Music Theory is a serious course and includes many course goals. According to the College Board’s website, by the time students take their AP Music Theory exam (or the SAT exam) they should be prepared to:
- Use their ability to read and write musical notation. Students may be required to complete oral exams to test their knowledge of musical notation at some point during the year.
- Recognize, understand, and describe the basic patterns seen in music. This includes patterns seen in musical notation and performance.
- Harmonize with a melody by selecting appropriate chords.
- Compose a musical bass line to provide two-voice counterparts.
Students will also use study notes, study guides, and other various study techniques as used in other classes to develop sound study habits. These habits can be useful in helping students prepare to take academic exams and help them to build even better learning habits for their college education.
Students that take Advanced Placement courses should remember their advanced nature. They will require more than average high school courses, but they will also have a much higher payoff than high school courses. Students will be challenged to develop more disciplined study skills and time management habits. If students commit themselves to their coursework, they will find themselves much more prepared to succeed in both the academic and professional worlds. Their grades and confidence will improve tremendously, as will their ability to exam scores.
Advanced placement courses are not only important to a student’s development, but they can also look excellent on their high school transcripts, increasing their chances to get into the college or university of their choice. Earning college credit through AP courses will also help students to earn college credit before graduating from college, which will save them valuable time and money. The more time and effort a student invests in their education, the more it will pay off in the end!
You'll find all kinds of resources for AP Music Theory. There are notes, study guides, outlines, etc.