General Music

Guitar ◊ Music Theory ◊ Music and Audio Technology ◊ Class Piano

Towson High School General Music Classes provide an opportunity to students looking for an alternative to our performing ensembles. Typically, beginners with little or no experience can enroll in a standard level general music class. AP and Honors Music Theory is designed for advanced musicians seeking to expand their knowledge of theoretical music concepts as they apply to music performance and/or the College Board's AP Music Theory Exam. Although these classes are not considered "performing ensembles," students do perform in-class on a regular basis (at least 8 times per year). These courses satisfy the Maryland State requirement of one (1) fine arts credit for graduation from high school.

Guitar Class

Guitar is a sequential program of year-long instruction. Through the study of music theory, vocabulary, musical styles, historical reference, and the opportunities for performance on acoustic guitar, students will learn the basics of playing guitar. No experience is necessary and beginners are welcome! This course satisfies the Maryland State requirement of one (1) fine arts credit for graduation from high school.

At Towson High School, we are currently offering three levels of guitar instruction:

  1. Guitar - First Year Guitar Students

  2. Honors Guitar - Second Year Guitar Students

  3. GT Guitar - Third and Fourth Year Guitar Students

Not sure which class is appropriate for your ability? Here is a breakdown of skills and requirements:

Guitar (Standard Level)

  • Beginners with little or no experience.

Guitar (Honors Level)

  • Has been playing guitar at least 1 year

  • Know all 1st position/open chords (at least 15-20 chords)

  • Experience with PIMA finger picking

  • Can play 6th string bar chords such as F and G bar

  • Can play 5th string bar chords such as Bb and C bar

  • Experience reading TAB

  • Basic Note Reading skills (can name notes on all 6 strings in frets 0-5)

  • Interested in singing while playing guitar

  • Little or no improvisation skills

  • Can already play at least 10-15 songs well

Guitar (GT Level)

  • All Honors level skills

  • Has been playing guitar at least 2-3 years

  • Know all bar chords on 5th and 6th strings including major, minor, 7, minor 7, major 7

  • Fluent at reading TAB notation (advanced TAB reading required)

  • Can sing and play a song

  • Intermediate note reading skills (can name notes on all 6 strings in frets 0-12)

  • Basic improvisation skills (major, minor and pentatonic scale patterns)

  • Can already play 20-30 songs well

For more information or to audition for placement in a higher level guitar class, contact Mr. Olin.

AP & Honors Music Theory

The ultimate goal of an AP Music Theory course is to develop a student's ability to recognize, understand, and describe the basic materials and processes of music that are heard or presented in a score. The achievement of these goals may best be approached by initially addressing fundamental aural, analytical, and compositional skills using both listening and written exercises. Building on this foundation, the course should progress to include more creative tasks, such as the harmonization of a melody by selecting appropriate chords, composing a musical bass line to provide two-voice counterpoint, or the realization of figured-bass notation.

Click here to visit the College Board AP Music Theory site

The AP Music Theory exam tests your understanding of musical structure and compositional procedures through recorded and notated examples. Strong emphasis is given to listening skills, particularly those involving recognition and comprehension of melodic and rhythmic patterns, harmonic functions, small forms, and compositional techniques. Most of the musical examples are taken from standard repertoire, although some examples of contemporary, jazz, or vernacular music, or music beyond the Western tradition are included for testing basic concepts. The examination assumes fluency in reading musical notation and a strong grounding in music fundamentals, terminology, and analysis.

How does studying theory makes you a better instrumentalist, singer, conductor, musician, etc.? Let's ask Mr. Olin...

"A beneficial use for studying theory in my undergraduate career was first its relation to my piano skills class and then through my performance as a trumpeter. Through studying theory and applying what I learned on the piano, I started to better understand my role as a trumpet player in the orchestra. As a trumpet player, I usually have the melody, but not always. I found my theory studies to assist with my understanding of what note of the chord I was playing (vertical harmony) and what section of the music I was playing (form). Theory is a common language for describing concepts. With a basic understanding of theory I was better equipped to perform and discuss music with my colleagues/peers.

Studying theory gives us the knowledge of how music is structured, how it follows the rules and how it breaks the rules. Most importantly it helps us to understand why it follows the rules and why it breaks them. Music Theory is one of the most valuable assets that we can understand as musicians because it allows us to communicate with other musicians both verbally through conversation and musically through performance."

~Mr. Olin, THS Music Teacher

Music and Audio Technology

The Music and Audio Technology courses are designed to provide students with opportunities to explore content, skills, tools, and techniques for creating music and audio productions. No experience is required for this course and you do not need to know how to play an instrument or sing. Any student can sign up for the Music and Audio Technology class. This course satisfies the Maryland State requirement of one (1) fine arts credit for graduation from high school.

Standard Music and Audio Technology (first year)

Students will...

  • learn the fundamentals of musicianship, audio, and MIDI

  • learn the basics of Recording & Mixing

  • gain an understanding of MIDI & Sound Synthesis

  • explore basic compositional techniques

  • explore a wide variety of musical styles and genres through musical elements and technological developments

  • learn the many skills a Music Producer must possess, both in the business and musical sense, as they fulfill a wide variety of roles and responsibilities

  • apply all of the skills learned in the course to create a variety of musically enhanced multimedia experiences

Honors Music and Audio Technology (second year)

This course builds upon the skills and knowledge of the Standard Music and Audio Technology class and follows a curriculum of project based assignments including...

  • Body Percussion

  • D.I.Y. So You Can Fly

  • Faded Music in a Bottle

  • Melody Mimicry

  • Melody on a Roll

  • Partner Palooza

  • Rhythm on a Roll

  • Rhythm Romp

  • School Song

  • Sight-Reading Creation

  • Theme & Variation Project

  • Follow the Leader (Conductor Cues)

  • Healthy Singing

  • Ready! Set! Go!

  • Rehearsal Goals

  • Rubric Creation Project

  • Warm-Up Creation

  • You Be the Judge!

  • All Vocals…All the Time

  • (A cappella)

  • Concert Reflection

  • Extra! Extra!

  • Musical Expression Clue Hunt

  • Musical Visual Representation

  • Post-it Post-it

  • Score Study

  • Things That Make You Go Hmm…

  • Who’s Your Audience

  • Composer Playlist

  • Genre Study

  • Make a Grand Entrance

  • Music Careers

  • Music Time Capsule Slam Dunk

  • Note to Self

  • Pick Your Program

  • Virtual Performances

Class Piano

The Class Piano courses are designed to provide students with opportunities to explore content, skills, tools, and techniques for creating and performing music on the piano. No experience is required for this course and you do not need to know how to play an instrument or sing. Any student can sign up for Class Piano. This course satisfies the Maryland State requirement of one (1) fine arts credit for graduation from high school.

Standard Class Piano


  • keyboard topography and orientation; proper posture and hand position

  • focus learning 5 note scales and playing triad chords

  • all white key major and minor 5 finger patterns, tonic triads in root position

  • multiple exercises in elementary level articulation; introducing coordination between hands

  • selected etudes and technique building exercises

  • scale preparation exercises

  • I-vi-VI-V and ii-V-I progression in the key of C


  • many folk songs in a variety of settings: hands alone, hands together, solo, and duet

  • solo and duet pieces in increasing difficulty; composers include Kabalevsky, Turk, Bartok, and Gurlitt

  • selected outside material

Fundamental Skills:

  • exercises in grand staff reading

  • sight reading examples ranging from single line melodies to independent voices

  • harmonization using blocked and broken chords

  • lead sheet harmonization

  • all key signatures and theory work

  • improvisation using the technical and theoretical material of these chapters

Honors Class Piano


  • major and minor scales up to three sharps and three flats, hands together, 2 octaves

  • review all white key major scales, hands together, 2 octaves

  • the chromatic, whole tone and pentatonic scales, hands alone

  • 2 and 3 note slurs; some preliminary attention to arm rotation, wrist flexibility; more emphasis on posture, finger strength and independence

  • modes


  • songs, etudes and exercises from selected texts

  • pieces at the late elementary to early intermediate levels, stressing hand independence, a broader choice of articulation, a wider dynamic range, scale passages, chords in root and inverted positions; composers include Heller, Diabelli, Duncombe, Beethoven, Kabalevsky, Bartok, Dring, and Caramia

Fundamental Skills:

  • chord progressions: I-V-I; I-iii-IV-I-ii-I-V7-I; I-IV-V7-I; I-V-vi-iii-ii-I-V7-I; I-vi-IV-I-ii-I-V7-I

  • lead sheet harmonization, with triads, and jazz chords; harmonization by ear

  • accompaniment

  • study of 7th chords

  • sight reading, improvisation and work with jazz chord vocabulary