Yale Music Dept COVID-19 Updates, Theory Placement Information,
and Private Lessons FAQ
and Private Lessons FAQ
What’s the point of even trying? Did COVID just cancel music?
Short answer: no! Music is more important than ever.
Here at the department, we know only too well how much the constraints of social distancing make us long for live music-making, and think wistfully and fondly about the times when it was so easy to get together and sing or jam. We also have turned to music constantly to help us get through these difficult times. We are hopeful that as a society we will come out of this experience with a greater appreciation for the affordances of liveness. If singing in a choir or playing in a jazz combo is the thing that we just can’t manage to do over Zoom, does that not only serve as a reminder of the value of live experiences, reactions, and connections? While we miss the kinds of music-making we have grown accustomed to, maybe we can take some small comfort from the fact that it is precisely the vitality of the experience that takes it off the table for the moment.
We do not intend to spend the semester in mourning. While we wait for the world to become a safer place for live performances and rehearsals, we will be helping our students focus on all the things they can do to prepare for those longed-for instances of music making: learning repertory, exploring analytical approaches, composing, and thinking critically about the historical and practical aspects of musical practices. So no, COVID-19 did not cancel music, and we look forward to hitting the ground running in late August.
Are performance courses running?
Short answer: yes, mostly online.
Yale will operate on a residential/remote model for Fall 2020, under which all students will be invited to spend one or both semesters on campus, but with instruction taking pace online.
According to the policies rolled out by the university during the Summer of 2020, live performances will not take place in the fall semester. There remains a possibility that some small ensemble classes will run in person (think “Socially Distanced Strings”). Our Gamelan ensemble will be rehearsing in the Off Broadway Theater. However, live coaching or rehearsals for chamber music involving voice, winds, or brass cannot be safely arranged. We are working on capabilities for wiring together rooms in Stoeckel for low-latency sound, to try to create the possibility for distant but simultaneous music-making.
Which music theory course should I enroll in?
Short answer: Use this self-placement guide to find your course!
There is no longer a placement test for the music theory curriculum; instead we invite students to identify the right course for them by using our self-placement guide, and in consultation with the course instructors.
In addition to the more detailed information on the self-placement guide, the following summaries may be useful:
For a broad introduction to the study of music theory, or review of basic music theory topics, try MUSI 100 or 110. Neither course depends on prior knowledge of music theory or music notation. Both courses teach basic literacy in Western analytical notations, including names and structures of chords, modes, and scales; Roman-numeral and lead-sheet harmony; key signatures, time signatures, and clefs; and solfege.
- MUSI 100 has a broader and more conceptual focus than 110, and is grounded in pedagogical practices from outside the Western classical tradition. MUSI 100 emphasizes singing, oral musical traditions, melody, rhythm, mode, and the theory of staff notation as a transcription tool.
- MUSI 110 has a deeper focus more closely resembling “AP music theory” than 100 does, and is based on Western classical training. MUSI 110 emphasizes the piano keyboard, written musical traditions, harmony, scales, chords, and the practice of staff notation as a compositional tool.
For approaches to analyzing commercial and popular music in the contemporary idiom, try MUSI 207.
For a more traditional approach to classical counterpoint, part writing, and analysis, try MUSI 210.
For analytical and theoretical approaches to 19th- and 20th-century music, including chromaticism and modulation, try MUSI 216.
For a piano keyboard-based musicianship class focusing on score reading, harmonization, and improvisation, try MUSI 217. Note: this course requires access to a personal piano or electronic/midi keyboard.
For a hearing & singing-based musicianship focusing on sight reading, aural identification, and dictation/transcription, try 218 (basic) or 219 (intermediate).
If questions remain, contact Nathaniel Adam or Anna Zayaruznaya.
Can I take private lessons for credit? How do I audition?
Pending the results of online auditions and faculty availability, YSM will grant credit lessons to select students. All credit lessons fall semester will take place online. Students accepted into the program will normally enroll for MUSI 345, may be required to play a final jury each semester, and will receive a narrative final grade report along with a P or F grade. Students playing at a particularly high level may be invited to enroll for advanced lessons (MUSI 445) and earn a letter grade. There is no additional charge for the lessons. Note that students taking lessons for credit are also required to enroll concurrently (or to have previously taken) music theory and musicianship courses (e.g. MUSI 100, 110, 200, 210, 211, 218, or 219). See below for placement information.
Students wishing to apply for credit lessons must fill out an application for lessons here: https://music.yale.edu/music-lessons-program-request-form. Students will then be invited to upload an audition video on Canvas.
What are the theory co-requisites for lessons and how do they work?
Students taking lessons for credit are also required to enroll in (or to have previously enrolled in) one of a range of music theory and musicianship courses (e.g. MUSI 100, 110, 200, 210, 211, 218, or 219). Without enrolling in this co-requisite, the academic credit for the lessons will not be granted. Co-requisite theory courses are required for up to two semesters of Lessons for Credit. Theory courses taken in the past or concurrently may count for this requirement; theory courses to be taken in future semesters may not. To determine which music theory and musicianship course is right for you, see our music theory curriculum self-placement guide.
Can I take non-credit lessons?
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only Credit lessons will be offered Fall Semester of 2020. The ongoing nature of the pandemic as well as the safety concerns surrounding lessons and practice spaces have forced the Yale School of Music to cancel the Non-Credit Lessons Program this fall semester.
Where do I practice?
The risk mitigation measure being taken in the music buildings will severely cut down the number of hours available. All music students are encouraged to practice in their own rooms whenever possible. However, practice rooms for students taking credit lessons will be available in the Adams Center for Musical Arts on a need-based and extremely limited basis. You may also wish to ask your teacher whether any practice slots are available in their studio.
Can I do a senior recital in AY 2020-21?
Yes you can. Here’s the form you need to fill out and submit to the Music DUS by the end of course selection period of the semester in which you plan to do the recital. In this unusual year, you will need to think creatively and pragmatically about the programming and logistics of your recital. Be in touch early with your teacher to discuss ideas.