Music Fundamentals I
This course will introduce first-year students to core concepts in music theory, music history, ear training, and keyboard skills. Music theory concepts will include: clefs, note names, rhythm, intervals, chords, and scales. Aural identification and recognition of these concepts in music theory will be reinforced through both ear training and keyboard skills so that students may develop musical fluency on their own instrument/voice as well as piano, with the ultimate goal of this course being an embodied cognition of the fundamental aspects of music. History topics covered will include a wide range of both 20th & 21st century musical styles, including contemporary classical, opera, jazz, rock & roll, film scoring, and world musics. As much as possible, assignments will be based on individual creativity.
Music Fundamentals II
This course for second-year students aims to solidify core concepts taught in Music Fundamentals I along with the introduction of new topic areas in music theory, music history, ear training, and keyboard skills. Students will be introduced to more sophisticated aspects of music theory, including: form/structure, analysis, critical listening, counterpoint, and 2-4 part composition. Historical instruction will focus on the standard Western musical canon and study in-depth the Early, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary eras of music, and addition to exploring non-Western styles of music within similar time periods. Students will be required to compose a small musical piece as a capstone project for this course.
This course is for first- and second-year students at NMSA and is meant to reinforce concepts taught in Music Fundamentals I & II from a practical standpoint on a student’s instrument/voice. Each division (Strings, Winds, Brass, Piano, Percussion, Guitar, Voice) will constitute its own section of the course, with each section instructed by a master artist in that division. Concepts taught will include: active listening, responsive playing, varied ensemble performance expectations, and the cross-integration of core musical principles from music theory, music history, and ear training. Students will also begin to explore the wealth of music literature (standard repertoire) within their division. Each student will be expected to rehearse and perform as part of this course.
Juniors & Seniors – Track-based Specializations
In Junior & Senior year, musicians will choose a specialization to focus on, including: Jazz Studies, Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance, and Composition & Contemporary Music. Students will also perform a Senior Recital (30 minutes of music) or complete a Senior Project as the capstone to their area of specialization. Juniors may also propose to perform an optional Junior Recital (15 minutes of music). All recitals and projects will be supervised by the Chair of the Music Department and two other members of the NMSA Music faculty of the student’s choosing.
Jazz Studies is a track-based curriculum available for Juniors and Seniors as a specialization within the Music Department. The curriculum is structured as a two-fold approach: classroom-based learning that introduces students to core concepts of jazz styles, and performance-based learning in both small and large jazz ensemble settings. Classroom-based learning will encompass intensive daily studies in Jazz Theory, Jazz History, Improvisation, Jazz Arranging, and Jazz Composition in order to prepare students for the practical application of concepts learned in the classroom to their performance practice and creative pursuits. Performance-based studies will include daily rehearsals in a small group (“combo”) setting for the first two (2) trimesters with other students pursuing the Jazz Studies track. Students will also participate in the Large Jazz Ensemble (“big band”) in the third trimester of instruction with students from the entire NMSA Music Department.
Instrumental Performance is a track-based curriculum available for Juniors and Seniors as a specialization within the Music Department. The curriculum is structured as a two-fold approach: classroom-based learning that introduces students to core concepts of instrumental performance practice, and performance-based learning as a soloist, as part of a small group (chamber), and as a member of a large ensemble. The course will be structured to focus on different time periods each trimester from both the classroom-based and performance-based standpoints, with particular care and attention given to varied historical and interpretive differences of each era. Students are expected to build and expand their repertoire in Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary styles, participate in mock-auditions and master classes, and understand the historical and musical contexts of the work they are performing.
Vocal Performance is a track-based curriculum available for Juniors and Seniors as a specialization within the Music Department. The curriculum is structured as a two-fold approach: classroom-based learning that introduces students to core concepts of vocal performance practice, and performance-based learning as a soloist, as part of a small group, and as a member of a large ensemble. Classroom-based learning will encompass intensive daily studies in International Phonetic Alphabet, music literature and repertoire studies, history, and major vocal music genres (opera, musical theater, popular, world, etc.); students will also explore concepts of original composition & songwriting. Performance-based studies will focus on technique and interpretation, and include the development of an active “repertoire” of the singer’s choosing that aligns with their intended area(s) of focus, as well as participation in the NMSA Choir; students will also actively explore acting & movement in their performance-based studies.
Composition & Contemporary Music
Composition & Contemporary Music is a track-based curriculum available for Juniors and Seniors as a specialization within the Music Department. The curriculum is structured as a two-fold approach: classroom-based learning that introduces students to core concepts of compositional practice, and practical learning as a composer in writing, rehearsing, workshopping, and performing new work. Students in the Composition & Contemporary Music track will learn and utilize in their original work standard notational and orchestrational practices, composition for instruments, composition using electronic/digital production methods, experimental composition practices, songwriting, and free- and structured-improvisation. Students will also explore the work, scores, and lives of major composers throughout history not constrained by style or time period. Each trimester, students will compose works of varying sizes and forces for presentation in collaboration with other NMSA music students and faculty and participate in an experimental ensemble that explores work scored for non-standard instrumentation. Students will also explore interdisciplinary collaboration with other NMSA departments (Visual Art, Dance, Theater, Creative Writing) through project-based initiatives.
A student may elect to perform a Senior Recital in their final year of study at NMSA. A senior recital consists of 20-30 minutes of music (solo and chamber). Preliminary programs and repertoire are proposed at the end of a student’s Junior year and must be approved by the Chair of the Music Department and two other Music faculty of the student’s choosing; these three individuals form that student’s Recital Jury Committee. A Recital Jury is administered by the student’s Recital Jury Committee approximately one month before the date of a student’s recital in the Fall. The student must also perform a short lecture-performance in the Spring of one piece from their recital which demonstrates significant research and understanding of their piece in addition to their unique performance-interpretation. Senior Recitals are highly recommended for any student who intends to pursue music performance as an area of study in college and beyond. All Seniors must complete either a Senior Recital or a Senior Project.
A student may elect to pursue a Senior Project in their final year of study at NMSA. Senior projects are individual, creatively-based works that may include original composition, interdisciplinary collaboration, site-specific or media-specific performance, or another musical area of particular interest to the student. Senior Projects are proposed at the start of a student’s Senior year and must be approved by the Chair of the Music Department and two other Music faculty of the student’s choosing; these three individuals form that student’s Project Committee. The student’s Project Committee will give final approval of all projects, with the student submitting a written summary of their goals, intentions, and progress made over the year-long project. Senior Projects will be presented in Spring. All seniors must complete either a Senior Recital or a Senior Project.
Junior Recital (optional)
Juniors may elect to perform an optional Junior Recital (15 minutes of music). In order to perform a Junior Recital, as student must propose their program by the end of September of the current academic year and seek approval by the Chair of the Music Department and one other Music Department faculty. Junior recitals are not required and are intended for students who excel as performers or wish to present work in a formal context.
Applied Lessons are weekly lessons with a specialized lesson instructor. Instruction cultivates students’ technique and musicianship through assigned studies of technical exercises and solo repertoire. Applied lessons are made available for all students who matriculated to NMSA prior to the 2018-19 school year, and they are provided for students in the Instrumental Performance, Vocal Performance, and Jazz Studies tracks. Any student may opt out of Applied Lessons at any time with approval by the Chair of the Music Department.