Theory Curriculum at Ellington
The music theory sequence at Ellington is designed to accommodate students with various backgrounds and levels of ability. Music students take theory every year that they are at Ellington. Click on the title of a course to see the course syllabus.
Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Music Theory Sequence
 Core Theory Classes
Piano-Theory combines basic piano instruction and introductory music theory in one class. It covers elementary piano technique and rudiments of music notation and structure: note names on the grand staff and piano keyboard, key signatures, time signatures, rhythm values, diatonic intervals, major and minor triads and major, harmonic minor, and chromatic scales. Students learn to sight sing, write from dictation, and compose simple melodies and rhythm patterns.
Theory and Ear Training 2 reinforces and expands upon material covered in Piano-Theory. Students read and write melodies and rhythm patterns of increasing difficulty and study the three forms of the minor scale and all intervals and triads. Prerequisite: Piano-Theory.
Theory and Ear Training 3 focuses on chord structure and harmonic analysis. Students also review material covered in the first two years as needed and continue to develop their sight singing, dictation, and composition skills. Prerequisite: Theory 2.
Theory and Ear Training 4 reinforces and solidifies all skills covered through Theory 3 and prepares students for college or conservatory theory. This course is offered to juniors or seniors who have completed Theory 3 but need more practice in the rudiments of theory. Prerequisite: Theory 3.
Advanced Theory Classes
Jazz Theory is a third or fourth year course for advanced instrumental students who are participants in the jazz program. Students play and write the scales and arpeggios that are used in improvisation, study chord progressions and jazz styles, and transcribe solos from recordings. Prerequisite: Theory 3 and/or permission of the instructor.
Advanced Placement Music Theory is a rigorous third or fourth year course for advanced instrumental and vocal juniors or seniors that is equivalent to a first year college theory course.  Students learn part writing skills, harmonic analysis, and advanced ear training and sight singing.  At the end of the year students take the Advanced Placement Examination, a nationally standardized examination which can earn them credit at some colleges.  Students who have completed this course generally place into sophomore level theory or above in college. Prerequisite: Theory 3 and/or permission of the instructor. For more information see AP Theory Overview and AP Theory Weekly Plan.
Music Composition is a fourth year course for advanced instrumental and vocal seniors with excellent aural and written theory skills. Students develop part-writing, counterpoint, and formal analysis skills and compose original music according to given criteria. Prerequisite: Prior completion of or concurrent enrollment in Advanced Placement Music Theory and permission of instructor.