AP® Music Theory

This workshop will focus on teaching strategies designed to help students develop an understanding of the materials and processes of music. Special emphasis will be given to creating a curriculum employing techniques and activities similar to those presented in the vertical teams guide for music theory published by the College Board. Significant critical, analytical, and creative thinking skills will be fostered. Discussions will make direct reference to the national AP Music Theory examination. Suggested materials and resources for teaching AP Music Theory will be introduced and teaching techniques will be demonstrated throughout the workshop.


Topics will include the following:

  • Visual and aural analysis, sight-singing, melodic and harmonic dictation and composition
  • Synthesis of musical knowledge into practical and usable musical understanding, especially with regard to music of the common practice period

Participants should bring the following:

  • Laptop
  • Music manuscript paper
  • Pencils with erasers

Course Outline (Subject to Change):

Day 1      

  • Overview of the AP Music Theory Exam
  • Creating Lessons using a Structured Approach to Listening and a Visual Approach to Analysis
  • Aural Skills:  Solfège Warm-Up and Foundations
  • Teaching Music Fundamentals:  Scales, Keys, and Key Signatures

Day 2       

  • Understanding Intervals, Triads and Seventh Chords, Rhythm and Meter
  • Music Exploration:  Discovery, Application and Understanding
  • Teaching Techniques for Multiple Choice Questions with Aural Stimuli

Day 3      

  • Identifying and Teaching Common Patterns in Sight-Singing and Melodic Dictation
  • Introduction to Part-Writing
  • Understanding Secondary Function

Day 4       

  • Strategies for Dealing with the Free Response Questions
  • Tips for Taking the AP Music Theory Exam


Dr. Terry Eder Terry Eder is a retired choral conductor and music teacher with over 40 years of experience at both the college and secondary levels. He remains active as a teacher and currently teaches one AP music theory class at Lovejoy High School.  He is a College Board Consultant and has presented at many AP summer institutes and one and two-day workshops and has served as a reader and question leader in the reading of the AP Music Theory exam for the past fifteen summers.