Popular Performance Core Curriculum

The Popular Performance major serves a select group of vocalists, electric guitarists, drummers, electric bassists, keyboard players, and other musicians. Students focus on popular music in conjunction with other coursework offered within their individual instrument major. Students are provided with the education and experiences to guide them to be successful popular music performers.

For information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.

The Private Lesson is individualized and tailored to the level, background, and needs of each student. It stresses a solid foundation in technical skills and covers a wide range of literature. Private study includes studio classes which provide students an opportunity to perform for their peers in an informal setting.

Academy Choir is a requirement for all Voice majors and is open to all students. The choir participates in numerous concerts during the year, performing works from a diverse range of styles, time periods and composers.

While listening to vinyl recordings spanning from the 1960's to the present, students explore and examine music in the book series 33 ⅓. Class discussions surround what is highlighted in the book series, examining each recording's significance, recording process, writing, performance, lyrics, arrangement, and more.

In this course, students explore the business of contemporary music. Topics discussed include copyright, music supervision, how to build a team, crowdfunding, publicity (bios, branding, cyber PR and printed), touring, PRO's, publishing, establishing yourself as an artist with the IRS, good book keeping, write-offs, entertainment law, and more.

Jazz Improvisation explores the role of form, rhythm, and harmony in various styles of improvised music. The curriculum will be created cooperatively by the teacher and students over the course of the semester.

Contemporary Theory begins with a review of fundamentals including intervals, triads & seventh chords, scales, keys, and chord inversion. We will study extended chords (jazz harmonies), diatonic harmonic function, cadence, and chromatic chords, particularly secondary dominants and related ii chords. Projects include transcription and arranging for individual instruments and small groups.

This course explores popular songs from the past in a performance-focused setting. Students are placed into bands and work together to match the tone, style, and feel of an original recording, while presenting the song as a polished performance during class time. Students learn how to hear and delegate parts, how to rehearse as a band, and how to realize a performance that is audience-focused and enjoyable to watch. This class is required of all songwriting students unless permission has been obtained from the Chair of Contemporary Music. This class serves as a pre-requisite for auditioning as an instrumentalist for the Popular Music Ensemble.

Students may audition to perform in various Popular Music Ensembles. These ensembles perform rock and roll, pop, and other contemporary styles, serving as the standing band for the Singer-Songwriter program.

In this course, students explore the skills and concepts fundamental to live sound reinforcement, audio recording, and audio editing. This is a hands-on course. Theory and application are introduced simultaneously, and projects reflect the interests and disciplines unique to each participant. This is a cross-curricular course available to all students.

Four-year senior students will work with their private lesson teacher or the Chair of the Contemporary Music department to develop a personalized Senior Capstone Project. An example project is to record an album of cover songs, along with an album release cycle including videos, album art, and a mock tour.

Sample Popular Music Performance Curriculum for a 4-Year Student

Semester I

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Choir / MUS055
Music Theory / Musicianship / MUS101 - 502
Performance Lab / MUS228

Elective Courses
Introduction to Audio Technology and Production / PROD091
Group instrument Lesson (non-major) / MUS116
Intro to Jazz Improv / MUS208

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra I; Biology; English I; French I


Semester II

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Music Theory / Musicianship / MUS101 - 502
Choir / MUS055
Performance Lab / MUS228

Elective Courses
Group instrument Lesson / MUS116
Keyboard Skills / MUS415
Intro to Jazz Improv / MUS208

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra I; Biology; English I; French I


Semester III

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Introduction to Audio Technology and Production / PROD092
Performance Lab / MUS313
Music Theory / Musicianship / MUS101-502

Elective Courses
Songwriting Foundations I / MUS106
Jazz History / MUS209
Music Archaeology / MUS107
Group Instrument Lesson (non major) / MUS115

Sample Academic Courses
Geometry; World History; English II; French II


Semester IV

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Performance Lab / MUS228
Music Theory / Musicianship / MUS101-502
Popular Music Ensemble / MUS313-314

Elective Courses
Songwriting Foundations II / MUS107
Jazz History / MUS209
Music Archaeology / MUS107
Group Instrument Lesson (non major) / MUS115

Sample Academic Courses
Geometry; World History; English II; French II


Semester V

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Introduction to Audio Technology and Production / PROD092
Popular Music Ensemble / MUS313
Songwriter Theory / MUS219
Music Archaeology / MUS107

Elective Courses
Jazz History / MUS209
Songwriting Foundations I / MUS106
Group Vocal Class / MUS115
Group Instrument Lesson (non major) / MUS115
Music Archaeology / MUS107

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra II; U.S. History; English III; Chemistry


Semester VI

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Popular Music Ensemble / MUS313-314
Introduction to Audio Production / PROD092
Songwriter Theory / MUS219
Music Archaeology / MUS107

Elective Courses
Jazz History / MUS209
Songwriting Foundations II / MUS107
Group Vocal Class / MUS115
Group Instrument Lesson (non major) / MUS115

Sample Academic Courses
Algebra II; U.S. History; English III; Chemistry


Semester VII

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Popular Music Ensemble / MUS313
Jazz Improv I / MUS209
Music Business / MUS109
Senior Capstone Project

Elective Courses
Music Archaeology / MUS107
Group Vocal Class / MUS115
Jazz History / MUS209
Songwriting Foundations I / MUS106
Music Theory / Musicianship / MUS101-502
Group Instrument Lesson (non major) / MUS115

Sample Academic Courses
Precalculus; Ecology; English IV


Semester VIII

Required Courses
Private Lesson: Primary Instrument / MUS045-046
Popular Music Ensemble / MUS313
Jazz Improv I / MUS209
Music Archaeology / MUS107
Senior Capstone Project

Elective Courses
Songwriting Foundations II / MUS107
Jazz History / MUS209
Group Vocal Class / MUS115
Music Theory / Musicianship / Music Theory / Musicianship
Group Instrument Lesson (non major) / MUS115

Sample Academic Courses
Precalculus; Ecology; English IV

Updated for course catalogue 2020-21.