sam reenan teaching in front of the class

As a collegiate educator of music theory and aural musicianship, my classroom teaching has been above all a source of great joy. The opportunity to share my time with burgeoning musicians and lovers of music, offering my expertise in concert with their musical intuitions and creativity, is a privilege. I approach that responsibility as an ardent scholar. Combining the ideas of my peers, the pedagogy literature, a critical and self-reflective stance on teaching and course design, and (most importantly) the needs of students, I take great pride in my role as a college teacher.

First and foremost, I intend to instill students with a language for music. Music theory at its core involves conceptualizing and communicating the inner workings of the art of music. I expect a high standard of engagement in the classroom, emphasizing discussion and collaboration by designing a variety of student-centered activities that spur teamwork and debate. Furthermore, I expect students to develop a broad conception of what constitutes music, and I strive to diversify their repertoire knowledge and analytical approaches as well as my own. The art of music is increasingly heterogeneous; 21st-century musicians and music professionals must therefore be artisans of their craft as well as open-minded to exploring the numerous musics that exist in the world. Most fundamentally, music-making is a central focus of my classroom, as I endeavor to devise music theory and aural skills in a practical way for students’ lives.

In my experience as an educator, I have continued to refine these practices and beliefs. Whether in the classroom, in office hours, or at home planning lessons, I keep in mind the guiding principles of inclusive teaching, practical applications, and enhanced classroom activity. My students often remark on the energy that I bring to the theory classroom; in order to encourage student engagement, and likewise to demonstrate my personal investment, I fill every class period with enthusiasm, enriched and diverse content, interactive tasks, and most of all music-making.

Hamilton College

Music Theory for Non-Majors (Music 110)


Semester: Fall 2020

An introductory survey of the most important aspects of music theory necessary for performing, interpreting, and composing music.

Basic Aural Skills (Music 180)


Semester: Fall 2020

Introduction to aural understanding through sight-singing, dictation and the rudiments of music notation.

Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Theory/Analysis/Musicianship Review for Graduate Students
(TH 117)


Semester: Fall 2020

The first semester of an accelerated review course designed for graduate students who are found to be deficient on the entrance theory placement examination. With a focus on eighteenth-century diatonic procedures, the course integrates conceptual and aural components of music theory, including writing, analysis, listening, singing, keyboard, and model improvisation.

Aural Musicianship III, IV (261, 262)

Coordinating Supervisor

Semester: Fall 2019–Spring 2020

Coordinate the Sophomore Musicianship courses, supervise 5 graduate teaching assistants. Course topics include audiation, post-1900 tonal vernacular idioms, clef reading, asymmetrical meter, non-tonal interval ID, and chromatic harmony.

Model Composition and Non-Tonal Analysis (205)

Supervisor(s): Zachary Bernstein

Semester: Fall 2018

Combines a survey of non-tonal compositional styles with advanced musicianship exercises focusing on the relevant repertoire. Analysis and model composition assignments address aspects of pitch-class set and serial theory, as well as other techniques developed by composers from about 1880 to the present day.

Intensive Model Composition and Tonal Analysis I, II (101i, 102i)

Instructor of Record

Semester: Fall 2017–Spring 2018

Awarded the 2017–18 Eastman Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Instructor of Record; Teaching materials and sequence of topics generated independently.

Covers same general topics as TH101 and 102, with an expanded fundamentals unit and four class meetings per week. Focused additionally on cultivating organized and concise music-analytical writing.

Model Composition and Tonal Analysis I, II (101/102)

Supervisor(s): Seth Monahan, Elizabeth West Marvin

Semester: Fall 2016–Spring 2017

Topics covered: fundamentals, diatonic syntax as well as tonicization and modulation to closely-related keys; melody harmonization and figured bass realization; composition of a binary form piece; analysis of 18th and 19th-century music.

Aural Musicianship I, II (161, 162)

Supervisor(s): William Marvin

Semester: Fall 2015–Spring 2016

Topics covered: sight singing in fixed do solfège and scale degrees; tonal syntax including chromaticism, modulation, and sequence; phrase structure identification; melodic and harmonic dictation and keyboard skills; rhythmic performance up to the level of Boulez, Density 21.5.