Music theory expands on past program


Carter Bryant

New music theory teachers Terry Eder and Nathan Dame plan to bring a new feel to the class like incorporating field trips.

Cameron Stapleton, A&E Editor

Once a small class of three, AP music theory has now grown to a bustling crowd of 16. Adding to the new population is an unfamiliar face. Dr. Terry Eder, once a teacher at Plano Senior High and currently a College Board consultant, is now teaching AP music theory with Nathan Dame, the associate choir director.

Mr. (Christopher) Mason had previously taught AP music theory and we needed to find a replacement when he left to attend graduate school in Georgia,” principal Chris Mayfield said. “Mr. Dame was chosen to replace Mr. Mason both in his choir and AP music theory roles and around the same time we found out that Dr. Eder was also interested in teaching AP music theory here at LHS.  As a longtime instructor for College Board AP music theory seminars, we were excited to hire him to teach here.”

Dame and Eder co-teach the course, melding their different experiences.

“I have taught theory for a while, but to see it in an AP context with such an experienced teacher has been so very inspiring,”  Dame said. “His passion for music shines through in his lessons and he is such a valuable part of our Lovejoy family.”

Despite a difference in experience, they enjoy the unique combined roles.

“We constantly assess student learning,” Dame said. “While one person is teaching, the other person is walking around tutoring students, checking for mastery, and encouraging even the smallest of progress. We tend to switch the teaching of different concepts so that students see and hear different perspectives on the same topics and concepts.”

Eder and Dame also use singing in class as a teaching tool, and non-choir students like junior Patrick O’Brien say they’ve enjoyed the experience.

“(My) favorite part of music theory is seeing how different parts of music is applied to different areas of music and singing in class everyday, because I’m in band and not choir,” O’Brien said. “I always look forward to sixth period every day in music theory.”

Eder said he was already familiar with Lovejoy before being hired.

“I am actually the master teacher, that’s what I am called, for a grant program called ‘Creating Schools of Excellence in the Fine Arts,’” Eder said. “Before coming here, I taught at Plano Senior High School for 11 years. I actually retired from full time teaching, but as master teacher for this grant program I have been visiting Lovejoy High School because part of my job is to visit the 10 high schools that are part of this grant program and mentor the teachers with regard to the teaching of AP music theory.”

Eder’s students appreciate his unique experiences.

“Dr. Eder has taught multiple music theory classes and it’s obvious he knows what he’s talking about,” junior Jensen Kinnebrew said. “He’s got a passion for what he does and makes it fun. He’s a very efficient teacher.”

Eder, despite being retired from teaching, was very excited to take the job, and students enjoy his choice to join the team.

“Dr. Eder is great,” senior Elizabeth Howell said. “He makes learning fun and he has a great sense of humor and he makes the material seem important and engaging and fun. He is a great source of wisdom.”

Eder has taught at both the college and high school level for many years, and missed teaching when he retired.

“When I retired from full time teaching I didn’t realize that it was gonna be quite the way it was gonna be,” Eder said. “But I really missed being in the classroom, and so when this opportunity came up, I jumped at it, because I love being in the classroom. I love working with young people. I began my career as a choir director. I taught at the college level for lots of years, then decided that I would teach high school, and I have loved every minute of it. It’s exciting to be able to come here and work with music theory.”

Eder stresses that AP music theory is not just for those interested in a music profession.

“I think it is a very interesting discipline,” Eder said. “And I think the thing about the AP course itself is I think sometimes people think that is just quote on quote  ‘music people.’ People who are in the choir or in the band or in the orchestra, that are playing guitars, that are pianists, but you know I have really come to realise that the course itself speaks to all types of students.

“Whether you are an AP student, for example, in five other AP courses, or if you are a person who just  really likes to listen to music but wants to know more about the inner workings of how it’s put together and how composers put music together. How performers take that and make it into sound and music.”

Music theory impacts consumers of all kinds of music as well.

“I would like to encourage lots of people to be in because we are not only talking about those people who might go on and major in music, but also the future consumers, the people who are going to be listening to music and going to concerts of all kinds, not just symphony concerts or the opera but also rock concerts and popular kinds of music,” Eder said. “Its an exciting class for all those types of people.”

AP music theory will also be taking trips to further musical learning throughout the year.

“We are taking the AP music theory class to a special trip to the Iceman in Richardson on the day after Columbus Day Holiday,” Eder said. “It’s a pianist, his name is Jeffrey Segall, and this is conversations with Jeffrey Segall, and he does a piano performance and talks about music. It’s really very, not only entertaining, but very educational. And we do lots of things through the grant program.”

Dame is ecstatic to continue the year.

“I am very much looking forward to a great year in choir and theory and know that our students will perform well on exams and in concerts and contests,” Dame said. “It has been an outstanding start to the year and I am very blessed to be a Lovejoy Leopard!

Eder, who spends his summer teaching others how to teach AP music theory, has advice for those hoping to join the profession.

“Since I am a College Board consultant I teach teachers in the summertime at AP Summer Institutes,” Eder said. “Every summer institute I talk to in recent times, I always begin the week by saying, ‘If you’re not gonna be passionate about teaching the course, then please, don’t. Don’t try and teach it.’ You have to be passionate, not just about teaching music, but about being with young people and teaching young people. If you’ll do that, you’ll be a great success, and so will your students.”