Students take notes on musical notes

AP Music Theory teaches fundamentals and structure behind what is played


Shravya Salem Sathish

Teacher Lori Willis leads the AP Music Theory class in an exercise on cadences and

Addison Jing, Staff Writer

Cal High’s AP Music Theory class incorporates a more technical aspect of music for those who already have vocal or instrumental experience.
Sophomore William Li is among the 18 students who joined the class this year. Like many of the music enthusiasts in this class, he is an experienced musician.
Li said he has played piano for nine years and violin since fourth grade, though he quit the violin last year.
“Since I already had so much experience in music beforehand, I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to do a weighted class related to it,” Li said.
In AP Music Theory, students learn a variety of different topics related to the nature and composition of music from Lori Willis, who has taught at Cal High since 2019. She is the choir director and also teaches chamber orchestra and dance.
“It [the class] is basically about different concepts in music,” sophomore Bruce Li said. “So far we have covered the basics and are learning about writing music.”
Like other electives, Cal students enroll in Music Theory for a variety of reasons. Some students take the class for fun, while others because they are serious about music and want to pursue a career in the field.
Additionally, there’s always the weighted credit to consider.
Senior Sophie Talwar, who has been playing piano for 13 years, loves playing music and joined AP Music Theory due to her musical background.
“I’ve previously taken other music [classes] my entire life and I have already done a lot of music theory tests, so I just took it for an easy class,” Talwar said.
Bruce Li, on the other hand, studies music for fun.
“I’m not planning on pursuing a career in music, but I still feel like it is a very interesting subject and a nice skill to have,” Bruce Li said.
Though these particular students are not interested in pursuing a career in music, Willis said she has noticed in past years that some students who take AP Music Theory are very serious about music and wish to do something in the field in the future.
“This school year I’m still seeing how things are unfolding,” Willis said. “But I know last year I had a number of students that are serious, and are interested in furthering their music education.”
Willis explained that knowing about how music works isn’t only for musicians. It’s important to learn about music whether a person is serious about it or not.
“Theory is definitely a great course for students,” Willis said, “Not just because they are planning to have a career in music, but because it’s good to have understanding and have a greater appreciation for what goes into music. And that’s like opening up a whole new world for you.”