Register Today for Peter Clements' Jazz Theory & Practice Curriculum!

A new online theory curriculum has been developed by Peter Clements, Conservatory Canada examiner and Director of Theoretical Studies.

This new program will be added to the available online offerings, and is a perfect companion to the wonderful theory program developed by Roxanne McGahey: Music Theory Online.  This new offering: Jazz Theory and Practice shares almost nothing in common with Music Theory Online, which is designed primarily for younger students, and follows the “classical” theory sequence from Grade 1 through to Grade 7 Theory.   Jazz Theory and Practice is designed for senior music students, particularly those who have already completed music rudiments (Theory 4 or equivalent).   As would be expected, the course content has much in common with the Contemporary Idioms syllabus. 

Jazz Theory and Practice is not only for CI students however; many students preparing classical exams also prepare some repertoire in the jazz style, and many teachers will find this program useful for their own professional development; simply to broaden their knowledge and experience in the jazz/popular music idioms.  Beginning later this next year, there will be an optional jazz theory question on the Grade 5 Theory exam, and soon to follow will be an optional Grade 6 question.   Any student writing the exams will be able to try the optional jazz theory question, and for most of them Jazz Theory and Practice would be perfect preparation.     

Jazz Theory and Practice is much more than an online textbook; every lesson has an interactive component (“Play/Sing”), where the student may play alone, or play duets with either the computer or a teacher.   This is the practice part of the course, where new materials are reinforced through various pattern drills, harmonization and improvisation exercises.  These are primarily written for keyboard, but in many cases may also be used with guitar, voice, and other instruments.   For the Contemporary Idioms student there is a wealth of materials in every lesson that correlate with the CI syllabus.  The first module, for example, is an introduction to melodic resources: scales/modes, and tetrachords (melodic patterns within scales).   The second module is an introduction to harmony, including dominant-7th, minor-7th, major-7th, and added-6th chords; and several variations of the II > V > I chord progression.  These are all important components in the Contemporary Idioms syllabus.    

Each lesson actually has three parts:  the presentation part (the “textbook”); the Play/Sing section, with audio, where the student can explore the new materials through listening and performing; and finally written assignments (also with audio) that the student completes online and may submit for an assessment using an automatic email facility.  Many of the written assignments have solution pages that will also be available to Conservatory Canada teachers who subscribe to the E-sharp Club.  All the music playback and writing is handled with a simple music writing program (FINALE Songwriter), that the student must purchase separately for $50.   FINALE offers a free one-month trial period for Songwriter.   As a bonus the student will learn to use a music writing program that could be useful in many ways!   …and here is an additional bonus:  the entire Jazz Theory and Practice course can be run on an iPad, using a free Finale download called Songbook.  Songbook will display and play the exercises in each lesson, but doesn’t allow the user to type in notes.    

A visitor to the website will find some “freebies”.  There is a sample lesson that can be viewed without registration or buying the music program.   For prospective students who may be not sure if their background is adequate to proceed with the course, there is a free rudiments test (no music program needed here either; the test can be printed and done the old-fashioned way with a pencil).   There is also a free marking guide for the test; the prospective student is able to complete the exam, and the assessment, and then decide whether they should register for the course.

The course is divided into three large sections; the first section is now available online, for a registration fee of $150—remember that most students will also have to purchase the music writing program for an additional $50.   The first section consists of three modules; the first two: melodic resources (tetrachords, scales) and harmonic resources (various 7th chords; II-V-I) are presented in six lessons, each lesson consisting of exposition, Play/Sing exercises, and written exercises.  The third module is review and testing.   Like the written exercises, the third module test may be submitted for assessment and feedback.   

The second section of the course is under construction, and is in the hands of the “beta-testers” this fall.   It includes turnarounds and circles of 5ths, basic blues, ninth and diminished 7th chords, basic “jazz counterpoint”, walking bass and other bass patterns.  

Each lesson also includes a list of listening examples… all available on YouTube.     



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