School board approves new AP course

The La Cañada school board voted unanimously Tuesday to add Advanced Placement Music Theory to an already rigorous list of available AP courses at La Cañada High School.

The course will be available during the coming school year, said Supt. Jim Stratton, and will join about 15 other AP classes offered at LCHS 9/12, with multiple sections of each course. The exact number of such courses fluctuates year to year.

"It would be a course that is keeping with the proposed content from the college board itself," Stratton said.

Previously, the band program maintained two sections for band, one for freshmen and sophomores and a second for juniors and seniors, said Aaron Dover, vice principal. But starting in the fall the department will combine the two sections to make room in the schedule for the new AP Music Theory class.

There are already 28 students signed up for the class, Dover said, which was listed on the curriculum pending board approval. He said he expects the interest to grow.

"This is the first year, so I imagine that if we move along with this class, it will become much more popular," Dover said. "The other idea is that this class would actually strengthen the music program here on campus."

The course will focus on theory and musicianship, said LCHS music teacher Jason Stone. Theory work includes analyzing music, while the musicianship requires choral students to be able to sing what they analyze.

"On the test there are three sections," Stone said. "There is a multiple choice which is a lot of the analysis. There is a listening exercise … And then the third part is an actual sight sing. You sing into a recording [device]. They give you the starting pitch and line, and you sing through."

LCHS 9/12 maintains multiple instrumental and choral groups, including a 150-member marching band, two jazz bands, an advanced strings orchestra, a symphony orchestra, a chamber orchestra, an all-school musical orchestra and men's and women's choral ensembles. And the course will benefit both choral and instrumental students, Stone said.

"It will bolster their musicianship tremendously," Stone said.

Students who are interested in pursuing careers in music will no longer have to go to other institutions to take music theory, school board members noted.

"I would think that a class would like this would give our students somewhat of an advantage if they were planning on going into any kind of a music major … and we have a fairly large number of students who do go into that," said school board member Susan Boyd.

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