AP Music Theory 2017-2018

“I am completely lost. This class is SO hard!!”  –  Senior
“This class is really pretty easy if you’re paying attention.”  –  Freshman

Basic Administrivia

  1. Put away your iPad, phone and anything else that  may  will  be a distraction. You will need your iPad on occasion for piano keyboard work. If you do not have a piano app, go to the App Store and download a free piano app…or two…or more.
  2. Log-on to your computer, go to http://ocdmusician.com. Set this as your home page. You can access this website from any device anywhere that you have an internet connection – home, school, What-a-burger, Starbucks…
  3. At the end of the period log-off or shutdown your computer.


More Administrivia

  1. Be on-time for class, especially Blocks 1 and 5. We follow district tardy/absence policy.
  2. Protocol: One person at a time can talk during class. I will ask you many, many questions. Don’t be afraid to answer! An incorrect answer allows us to do further dialogue and investigation.
  3. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”Vince Lombardi
  4. Growth depends on being out of your comfort zone. When you feel like you’re struggling, that’s when you have an opportunity to “level-up.”
  5. Start by making a habit of completing your work on time and to the best of your ability each day. This is an “AP” course.  I DO NOT expect you to know what I haven’t yet taught you, so do not be afraid of being out of your comfort zone. If you aren’t being challenged, you aren’t learning.
  6. AP Theory is not like band or choir; you do not have 2 months to practice the same three etudes, songs or contest pieces. Every day you should learn something new and develop a new level of skill. This is NOT hard IF you go step-by-step daily. Those who do make a 4 or 5 on the AP test. Those who don’t make a 1 or 2. It really is simple. Not “easy,” simple.
  7. MISD AP Commitment Letter 2017


And Now for Even MORE…

Student Information

Copy and paste this form into an email, fill-out and send to johnjulian@misdmail.org. The subject for the email will be your first and last name and your school’s initials.   Example: John Smith, MHS



Official Name:             

Name you go by:          

Student ID#:



Instrument or vocal part:

Your email:

Your phone:                                                      

Parent or guardian phone:

Home address:



Your 5 favorite Anime and/or TV shows:

The BEST Anime (there is only ONE right answer):

Your 5 favorite movies:

Your 5 favorite pieces of music:

Your favorite animal:

Your favorite food/restaurant:




On Cue-

We will walk through the syllabus today, but first, we shall investigate in common parlance/conversational language:

  1. What is AP Music Theory?
  2. What is it really? What aren’t you telling me?
  3. Why do I want to take this class?
  4. What will I learn?
  5. What will I do?
  6. How do I do that?
  7. What’s in it for me?
  8. Is it worth the effort?
  9. Can I cheat? (No. It is obvious if you do.)
  10. Grading Policy?!



  1. AP Music Theory is intended to prepare you to take the AP Music Theory Exam in May and prepare you for taking music theory in college. You can also earn college credit by scoring a 4 or 5, although universities will require all music majors to take a music theory placement exam. (Ex: Baylor U.AP Music Theory will give you the skills to make an A in college music theory, which can be a “fast, furious and terrifying” experience for the uninitiated.
  2. This class is really about composition,  analyzing music of the great composers in many different styles and using what you discover and skills we will develop to compose. “Music theory” is like learning a language – learning the how and why of music construction plus many of the skills necessary to compose your own music. Success on the AP Exam is a by-product of this process.
  3. You take this class because it’s FUN if you do it right, which is what I will teach you.
  4. You will learn not only the aural skills necessary to write-down something you hear, but how to hear something that is written WITHOUT resorting to playing it first. You will learn the “construction” skills for composition, how to write for each instrument and voice, how to combine and balance pitches to create melodies, chords, phrases and entire compositions and much, much, much, much more!
  5. You will grow as a musician. ALL the material we cover will enhance your experience as a musician, no matter what your ultimate goal, professional musician or sitting in your room singing alone.
  6. Just follow my instructions for 10 months. It will take every minute of every class to cover all the material.
  7. Enlightenment. And a much deeper and more satisfying experience as a musician and a person. Not only will you gain musical skills, you will gain a deeper understanding of your own emotions and how to convey them to others. You will also expand your musical and emotional vocabulary. How many kinds of “happy” can you think of? How many ways can you express an emotion musically?
  8. Yes. If you spend your time wisely this will be a blast!  “Slacking” through this class will give you an end result of  “boring, too hard and a “waste of time.” It’s exactly like performing vocally or instrumentally. Sure, you can have fun in the bottom band or choir (and that’s fine if you’re happy with that!), but from knowing a lot of all-staters,  even those who work at that level and don’t make it (BTW –  I’ve known a lot of GREAT players who didn’t make all-state!) have MORE FUN!


There are several types of students for whom this class will be relevant:

  1. SERIOUS musicians – “I’m going to major in music in college.” Yes, that is serious. Music is an art, as is teaching, but it is a serious “profession” no matter which path you take, and only the “awesome” can make a decent living at it. The good news is that, like law, engineering or business, you can LEARN it! How do you want to spend the next 40 years? No matter what you choose to do, you’ll live your profession 24/7.
  2. Semi-serious musicians (don’t tell me you didn’t see that coming) – or musician as an avocation. Unlike your typical “death sport” (WWF or EFL), you can do this for the rest of your life and you can get better at it every day (until Alzheimer’s kicks-in). “I want to be an engineer and make a lot of money.” Cool. I almost did that. Whatever you do, you gotta have the skills. Part of the skills for ANY profession is being able to create, develop and manipulate a concept, apply it to a given schemata and then make it a reality (“realization”).
  3. Smart musicians who want to boost their GPA AND learn at a higher level. It is an AP course. But – it IS an AP course.
  4. Students who just want to be better musicians because they really love music. This can be ANY kind of music,  but you will specifically deal with music from the Common Practice Era, approx. 1700-1850. Read that again. What do you think “Common Practice”  means? The practices most commonly used to compose great music. We still use these as the core of all music composition and performance, even as we study music from subsequent eras.



In addition to the grading policy on the syllabus:

Homework is sequential, all assignments build on the previous assignments.   Homework is ALWAYS posted on this website.

Incomplete work will be handed back for you to complete.

Late work, according to district policy, loses 15 points per day.

CAUTION, beware, etc.: You will have a LOT of small assignments, therefore you have no need to get behind.

You CAN, however, work ahead!

If you can go faster than the speed of class, and if you get a 100, bonus points are added. I have no problem with you earning a 100 every six weeks. It is not hard to do. It’s easier than failing.

BIGGER CAUTION: You may not work on assignments with a friend – no cheating. Your friend can’t play or sing your solo or region music for you. In ALL “partnering” situations one person does all the work and the other learns nothing. This is YOUR performance, not your friend’s. Do not cheat…or steal. Or fake your work. Don’t let my classroom persona fool you into thinking I don’t know or don’t care. Don’t be one of the students whom I have lost respect for – you may need a college or job recommendation and I won’t be able to tell them anything good about you. I hate doing that, but I will not compromise my integrity for you.

  1. NEXT ——–>> (Click here)
  2. THEN—————->> (Click here)
  3. Dr J’s list of Theory Rules

Majoring in Music

Great intro to Classical Music.

Using a simple and enjoyable teaching style, this course introduces the novice listener to the wonders of classical music, from Bach fugues to Mozart symphonies to Puccini operas.

Created by:   Yale University