Building Your Theory Toolkit

Tuesdays, 8:30 - 10 PM EST 
8 weeks | October 12 - November 30, 2021

Have you ever had this nagging feeling like there are big gaps in your music theory knowledge, but you’re not even sure exactly what they are? 

Do you have a passion for making music, but still feel insecure around the music school graduates?

Do you sometimes feel stuck in your songwriting because your songs all sound similar and you’re not sure how to break out of your own patterns?

Getting unstuck and grabbing the best, most useful concepts distilled from years of theory study is what this course is all about.

Have you ever had this nagging feeling like there are big gaps in your music theory knowledge, but you’re not even sure exactly what they are? 

Do you have a passion for making music, but still feel insecure around the music school graduates?

Do you sometimes feel stuck in your songwriting because your songs all sound similar and you’re not sure how to break out of your own patterns?

Getting unstuck and grabbing the best, most useful concepts distilled from years of theory study is what this course is all about.

your instructor

Donovan Dorrance

Donovan Dorrance

Hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he trained as a multi-instrumentalist before moving to Brooklyn to work for his sister’s dance company, Dorrance Dance, and pursue his passion for music. 

As music director, Dorrance has had the opportunity to compose original music and tour internationally with the company for the last six years. Outside of dance, Dorrance composes for film, theatre, podcasts, commercials, and weird passion projects.

He’s been with golden lotus studio since the beginning of 2020 and feels very privileged to get to share music with others during such a turbulent time.

 

Donovan Dorrance

what if you could hear better?

Think of music theory as a kind of toolkit. If all you have in your toolkit is a hammer, you can only build certain kinds of objects. But if you have a hammer, and a saw, and a wrench, and a router, and a drill press… OK, maybe I’m enjoying the analogy too much. You get where this is going.

You could also think of theory as a painter’s palette. You won’t get too far in your painting if you only have yellow. But what if you add blue, red, and burnt umber? Soon you’ll be making happier trees than Bob Ross. 

The point I’m trying to make is that when you have a greater conceptual understanding of how music is put together, your own compositions can have a depth you previously only heard in other people’s music. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll understand and appreciate other people’s music better, too. It’s kinda like learning a magician’s tricks.

For example, by exploring the different ways that you can build a melodic sequence, you suddenly discover several exciting new possibilities for where your song can go. Or if you pick apart how the melody interacts with the chords in Nirvana’s song “Lithium,” you’ll have a new set of strategies for allowing your chords and melodies to become more adventurous. You’ll learn to find a palette of sounds that matches your harmonies and brings a more dynamic musical tension and release to your songs.

And all the while, your musician ears will be getting bigger and bigger, metaphorically speaking, so you can find inspiration in the most surprising places.

music
theory
is
fun

theory should be fun!

Let’s face it: the ways in which music theory is often taught are dreadfully boring. Either you were made to practice scales and memorize keys because you were told it was “good for you,” or you were supposed to work out all kinds of dry, ancient textbook examples that aren’t relevant to the kinds of music you want to make.

In this course, we’ll be exploring how our favorite composers and bands make the music that excites us. Then we will immediately implement what we’re learning, writing original pieces that not only break new ground for us as composers, but also help each person define their unique voice by expressing their own aesthetic more fully.

What could be more fun than taking apart the songs and artists you already love to find out what makes them tick? I’ll tell you: taking apart those pieces while surrounded by a handful of other passionate artists like you who are doing the very same thing!

the logistics

We’ll meet online on Tuesdays at 8:30 – 10 PM EST for 8 weeks, starting October 12th. Each class is about 90 minutes. Imagine a Zoom conference call with me and a handful of other inquisitive, soulful composers, getting together to dig into the nitty-gritty of writing music. The time we spend together will include hands-on exercises, short lectures and demonstrations, instructions and encouragement for the process, sharing of compositions in a masterclass format, Q and A, heartfelt conversations, and explanation of homework assignments. 

There will be a curriculum – with some flexibility, based on the individual needs and desires of the cohort. You can expect that our time together will feel nurturing, encouraging, challenging, and inspiring. Our cohorts are always surprised by how much bonding and collaboration occurs in 8 weeks – and on Zoom, even!

Outside of class time, you will have some homework assignments, as I mentioned. These will largely consist of spending some time with your honest composer self and letting the music come. There will also be a more involved research project. The expectation is that you’ll spend between 1-2 hours outside of class on these assignments each week. The cliché “you get out of it what you put into it” applies here.

But, in addition to the assignments, you’ll have support. There will be an online forum where you can connect with your classmates: You’ll be able to share your songs, your challenges, your concerns, your questions and your positive feedback with one another, and you’ll be able to draw on a built-in community of people who are on the same road you are, who love music and who encounter obstacles and fears the same way you do.

Because there are a limited number of seats in this workshop, you’ll get to know your instructor (me) and your fellow participants well in this intimate and generous setting.

who is it for?

This course is for songwriters and composers who have some basic skills as a musician, but want to grow in applying those and other new skills to their composing.

Practically speaking, this course is for people who:

 

1) can play all 12 major and minor chords on a musical instrument, and

2) have written a song before. That’s it!

If you’re not sure if this class is right for you, email me and ask: donovandeez@gmail.com. If you’re motivated, you could take a few private lessons with me (or another qualified music teacher) and get up to speed for this course pretty quickly.

A commitment to the 8 weeks is crucial. You can miss a class if something comes up (as class recordings will be posted online) but you should plan to be fully present for every class and budget about 1-2 hours or so outside of class each week on homework. Your commitment contributes not only to your fulfillment, but also your classmates’ fulfillment as well.

We’re going to be learning and writing music a lot and by the end, we’ll aim to have a class album ready for release, comprised of working demos of our new songs. How fun is that?

When you join Theory Toolkit, you’ll also get a free subscription to the Friday Afternoon Songwriting Club! FASC (for short) meets every Friday at 4PM EST on a Zoom call where your instructor will guide you through unique prompts each week to help you write more original songs alongside dozens of others all tuning in at the same time (don’t worry – everyone is muted and silently working while watching the instructor!). This is a $37/month subscription that is included for free during the 8 weeks that you are enrolled in Theory Toolkit. Songs you create in FASC will also come in handy in Theory Toolkit assignments and exercises, so make sure you take advantage of it!

$649 for 8 classes.

I take it very seriously that $649 is still a substantial sum, and I expect you to take it seriously to show up to class and do the assignments. But they’re fun and life-giving, so you’re going to want to show up to class and do the assignments. You’re probably not going to want to do anything else.

If you want an even better deal, peep THIS!

If you invite a friend once you’ve already signed up, and that friend joins and mentions your name, I’ll refund you $70! Now we’re down to $579! That’s about $72 per week of class, plus the Friday Afternoon Songwriting Club classes as well! Compare this to a similar class you might take from Berklee College Online for $1200-1500. Don’t throw your money away and not get the kind of individual attention that we offer.

Hurry! Registration for this course closes on October 5th!

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Building Your Theory Toolkit Workshop

Golden Lotus Studio reserves the right to cancel this class if enrollment does not meet the minimum requirement.

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