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Winter 2019 Registration Now Open!

How Music Works

Have you played or sung for years, but always wanted to better understand the music? In this introduction to music theory, unlock the mystery of music. Topics include reading fluency (pitch/rhythm notation, pitch/rhythm reading and dictation), basic keyboard skills, major/minor scale construction, triadic and seventh chord constructions, circle of fifths, basic chord progressions, some music writing, and YOUR questions that you’ve always wanted answered. This class is designed for theory beginners - those with reading experience in one clef only, pianists and singers with minimal theory background, guitarists who read only tab, as well as those who want to brush up on the basics. For questions on placement, please contact us.

  • 8 weeks
  • No cost for UVMC individual lesson and Suzuki students*
  • Ages 16 and up
  • Thursdays 11 am - 1 pm
  • October 4-November 29
  • Faculty: Jane Woods
  • Minimum Enrollment: 4    

Putting Together the Puzzle of Musical Style

“Why does Mozart sound different than Bach?” Using Bruce Adolf’s “Piano Puzzlers” as a starting point, we will investigate how the elements of melody, rhythm, and harmony combine to create distinct compositional styles. Some background in Music Theory is recommended.

  • 8 weeks
  • No cost for UVMC individual lesson and Suzuki students*
  • Ages 16 and up
  • Thursdays 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
  • Spring: Jan. 31 - Mar. 28
  • Faculty: Jane Woods
  • Minimum Enrollment: 4


Preparing to Hear Masterworks
The Hopkins Center’s 2018-19 performing-arts season features great works of music performed by internationally renowned artists. These 4-week mini-classes will build foundations with which listeners may more acutely savor the music performed at each of 5 Spaulding Auditorium concerts. Through a consideration of cultural and historical contexts, some score perusal, and careful listening, our understanding and appreciation of this music will grow and deepen. 

Peerless West African Musicians: Youssou N’Dour (Oct. 23) and Mamadou Diabate (Nov. 7): Senegalese musician N’Dour has won international acclaim for his music’s compelling eclectic blend of traditional West African styles, jazz, hip hop, Cuban rumba, and rock. Diabate, a native of Burkina Faso, is a master of the balafon (a West African xylophone); his music also effects a synthesis of traditional West African and diverse European pop and jazz idioms. We will consider the rich burgeoning of Afro-pop in the last fifty years, and explore some of the many recordings by these pioneering masters.
(Thurs, 1:30 - 3:30, 10/18 - 11/8)

Handel Society Johannes Brahms, A German Requiem (St. Thomas Nov. 6 & Handel Society Nov. 13): Brahms’ Requiem is one of the central pieces of the choral music repertoire. We will examine its provenance, structure, and expressive content. (Wed, 1:30 - 3:30, 10/24 - 11/14)

Shanghai Quartet (Feb. 5): The Shanghai Quartet has built its reputation around the integration of East Asian and Western European musical styles. The centerpiece of its Hopkins Center concert is a newly re-worked quartet by acclaimed Chinese composer Tan Dun. (Thurs, 1:30 - 3:30, 1/17 - 2/7)

Mitsuko Uchida (Apr. 25), three sonatas by Franz Schubert: Towards the end of his life, Schubert turned to the piano sonata as a vehicle for both profound (often anguished) expression and striking musical innovation. Mitsuko Uchida’s program begins with the early Sonata in E-flat Major and then turns to two sublime late works, the Sonatas in a minor and A Major. (Thurs, 1:30 - 3:30, 4/11 - 5/2)


  • Prior musical experience, though welcome, is not a prerequisite for these classes.

  • 4 weeks each session

  • Adult

  • No cost for UVMC individual lesson students*

  • Faculty: Mark Nelson

  • Minimum Enrollment: 5

Music Theory for Performers

Music theory illuminates the grammar of music.  It examines the vocabulary of music—scales, keys, intervals, triads—and explores the principles underlying the interplay of these basic building blocks in a musical work.  An accomplished composer wields these tools deftly and imaginatively.  Music theory gives us an appreciation of the composer’s choices and strategies; it helps us to understand what makes music marvelous. This course is designed for students currently studying an instrument or voice, with at least two years of experience and note reading skills.

  • 14 Weeks
  • No cost for UVMC individual lesson and Suzuki students*
  • Ages 11 and up
  • Mondays 4:00 – 4:45 pm
  • Fall: Sept. 10 - Jan. 7; Spring: Jan 28 - May 13
  • Faculty: Mark Nelson
  • Minimum Enrollment: 3  

Music Theory Skill Builders

Sharpen your musical skills with four classes focusing on rhythm or pitch skills. Improve your accuracy and/or fluency in reading musical notation to become a better sight reader and more independent performer. Classes will review basics, introduce new challenges, and address requests of participants.

  • 4 weeks
  • Fridays 10:30 - 11:30 am
  • Fall: Oct. 5-26; Spring: March 8-29
  • No cost for UVMC individual lesson and Suzuki students*
  • Ages 16 and up
  • Faculty: Jane Woods


*Must be enrolled in a full 16-week term of lessons