Founded in 1992, the Honors Music Program is the Pre-College division of Westminster Conservatory of Music for talented music students aged 8-19. This unique program is committed to nurturing musical artistry and scholarship through a comprehensive curriculum designed to develop the potential of each student on their individual musical journey.
The Honors Music Program offers majors in Instrumental Performance, Composition, and Vocal Performance studies. Our students range from those pursuing advanced study or degrees in music to students interested in supplementing their current musical studies all within a supportive and vibrant community. Students attend weekly private lessons with their choice of private teacher, either within or outside the Conservatory, and Saturday classes from September through early June under the tutelage of an exceptional faculty of performers, composers, and scholars. Honors Music Program alumni attend top universities and music conservatories and include international performers, award winning composers, successful music teachers, and dedicated amateurs.
Areas of study
The Honors Program offers four overlapping curriculum paths
All students (regardless of major) will take
- Theory through level 4
- History 1 and 2
- Jazz 1 and 2
Curriculum – General
Dalcroze classes give students an understanding of music’s fundamental concepts, expressive meanings, and deep connections to other arts and human activities, in group classes that incorporate movement activities and hands-on materials to enhance ear-training, rhythm, and the embodiment of musical performance.
Students begin with four levels of theory fundamentals and use the theory method of the Royal Conservatory of Music. Students proceed with HMP’s own Advanced Placement Curriculum, which includes two years of Harmony and Aural Skills. After completion of these four courses, students may register for the Advanced Placement Music Theory Exam through their local school district. Students advance to theory courses in Counterpoint, Composition, and Analysis.
In Music History, we develop students’ ears and minds through listening and lively discussions about music. Weekly classes explore the evolution of western music, and encourage critical thinking about the repertoire in musical and historical contexts. Classes also include lectures, presentations, and performances. Assessments may include listening and brief written responses, quizzes and tests, and presentations.
Students take a two-year survey: I. Music of the Baroque and Classical Periods, and II. Music of the Romantic and Contemporary Periods. Advanced students attend electives: Musical Style and Analysis, Contemporary Music Seminar, Ethnomusicology, and 21st Century Music.
Students are placed in an ensemble and meet weekly with their instructor. Ensembles prepare repertoire for performance in the HMP Chamber Music Concerts at the end of each
semester. Students’ private instrument teachers will approve the chamber music repertoire as appropriate for the student and support the student’s work on that repertoire.
Jazz study covers the basics of improvisation, beginning in Musicianship Skills, progressing to Jazz 1 and 2, and advancing to work in Jazz Combos. The hands-on style of learning chord progressions, jazz forms, techniques, and styles includes playing with teachers and classmates each week. Through the study of jazz, students integrate their theory knowledge and enhance their total musicianship.
Classes for Vocalists
The HMP Vocal program offers performance-oriented and academic classes geared to the needs of the serious young classical singer. The curriculum includes HMP courses in Music History and Music Theory, attended with other HMP students, as well as Vocal Skills, Vocal Diction, and Vocal Repertoire, attended only by vocalists.
In the Vocal Skills class, voice students work on vocal technique, poise and stage deportment, and vocal independence. Class work will include some ensemble singing and the opportunity to work on solo repertoire with a pianist.
Language and Diction for Singers
Vocal Diction presents students with the fundamentals of language and singing diction. IPA and pronunciation rules are studied for Italian, English, Latin, French, German, and Spanish, with Russian added later in their studies.
Students work on repertoire in this class, addressing performance practice and stage presence as well as musical, textual, and dramatic considerations. The instructor works in conjunction with the student’s private teacher to select appropriate solo repertoire. In class, students work with an accompanist and benefit from a hands-on approach to style and literature.
Four or five lecture/demonstration classes are presented during the year. Topics include Audition Skills, Monologues and Acting Basics, Vocal Health and Anatomy, Baroque Ornamentation, and Performance anxiety.
Classes for Composers
Composition students are grouped by experience. Beginning students will learn the basics of writing cadences and phrases, with an emphasis on motivic development, standard forms and common progressions. Advanced students will focus on large scale forms and more complex compositional techniques
Students in the orchestration class will learn how to arrange and compose for a variety of instruments and ensembles. Assignments are done in Musescore or a similar music notation program, and will be performed in class when possible.
Electives (offered on a rotating basis)
- 20th Century Theory
- Form and Analysis