Levels & Course Areas

Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Levels

Music instruction at Fei Tian is organized into basic, intermediate, and advanced levels, each of which is one to two years in length. Students will be assessed during the first week of classes for placement into the appropriate level of Music Theory and Ear Training based on their musical background, experience, and facility.

The main focus of the basic level of music instruction is to help students acquire the basic concepts of music theory, ear training, and instrumentation. This training helps students lay a solid foundation for further studies in music. The intermediate level of music instruction strengthens the basic skills and techniques and serves as a critical step in the process of becoming musical artists of professional caliber. The advanced level of music instruction aims to improve students’ artistic sensibility and general music knowledge. At the same time, students refine their musical skills and techniques through orchestral and chamber performance as well as advanced instrument class.

Course Areas

Music Appreciation

Students increase their appreciation for music by learning basic elements such as sound, rhythm, music notation, melody, harmony, key, musical texture, musical form, and musical style. Music of the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic periods are highlighted in discussions, and composers representative of each of those periods (Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schubert, etc.) are introduced. By completion, students will have developed the vocabulary to discuss musical elements, styles, and periods.

Music Theory

The basic level courses are designed for students with little or no formal music theory training. Students will be introduced to the rudiments and terminology of music. Topics include notating pitch and note names, notating rhythm, keyboard communication, scales and key signatures, intervals, and chords including triads and seventh chords. Students will learn basic notational skills including how to draw clefs, notes, rests, and sharp, flat, and natural signs.

In the intermediate level courses, students will significantly increase their knowledge of written music theory and analysis. Topics include melodic organization, texture and textural reduction, and an introduction to voice leading in four-part chorale writing, harmonic progression, and harmonic rhythm.

The advanced level includes topics such as voice leading in four-part chorale writing, harmonic progression and harmonic rhythm, the dominant seventh chord, the leading tone seventh chords, dominant and leading tone chords, and modulation. By the end of this course, students will have mastered the musical rudiments and terminology including notational skills, scales, keys, intervals, chords, meter, and rhythm.

Ear Training

The basic level courses are designed for students with little or no formal background in music theory. This level focuses on developing students’ musical listening and sight-singing (solfège) skills, rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dictation skills, score reading ability, and basic keyboard skills. Students will engage in singing exercises in major and minor keys and with different rhythms.

In the intermediate level courses, students continue to develop their musical listening and sight-singing (solfège) skills, rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dictation skills, score reading ability, and basic keyboard skills.

In the advanced level courses, students will learn the structure of instrumental and vocal musical works beyond their melody and learn to recognize and refine their ability to hear intervals, chords, and chord progressions. By the end of this course, students will have developed listening and sight-singing skills that will lead to a more thorough understanding of music composition and music theory.


Fei Tian partners with several professional orchestras to provide qualified music students a special opportunity to participate in rehearsals and performances, including concerts in the New York area and beyond. The participating ensembles are large-scale Western orchestras featuring Western strings, percussion, woodwinds, and brass, complemented by traditional Chinese instruments. Orchestra members consist of professional musicians including Fei Tian faculty.

Through orchestral training, students gain firsthand experience in the creative process and gain exposure to an extensive repertoire of outstanding Chinese musical works as well as Western masterpieces. Students develop their musical potential, aesthetic understanding, and musical sensibility, and learn to integrate classical Chinese and Western music. In particular, Orchestra focuses on cultivating a beautiful tone, strengthening listening skills and the ability to read music, building technical skills and teamwork, and developing responsible rehearsal habits. Students engage in regular guided sectional practice and learn to analyze and evaluate musical performances.

Appreciation of Chinese Music

This is an introduction to Chinese Music that aims to develop students’ artistic sensibility and appreciation for Chinese music. It introduces the characteristics, styles, and genres of Chinese music, and includes study of traditional Chinese instrumental music, folk songs, narrative music, and operas. Upon completion, students should gain an understanding of the richness and diversity of Chinese music as well as the close relationship between traditional Chinese music and the intellectual history and culture of China.

Instrument Classes

Students are provided with private instrument lessons in their primary instrument from Fei Tian faculty and staff. Lessons are available for Western strings, percussion, woodwinds, brass, and Chinese instruments.

Vocal Coaching

The vocal performance coaching is designed to prepare young singers for the rigors of conservatory training. The coursework introduces students to the various concepts, techniques, and exercises that give singers a strong command over their vocal resources. Basic breathing techniques are taught and practiced to strengthen the diaphragm and enhance the singer’s note-holding capability and vocal strength. Students work through various vocal exercises to improve pitch and sound quality. They also learn how they should present themselves and their songs before a live audience. The goal is for students to build confidence in their own unique voice and to strengthen their singing.