Sound Advice Theory & Ear-Training Classes

Program Outline

Sound Advice is a complete theory and musicianship program where theory, ear training, sight-reading, music history and composition are integrated to develop musical literacy. Where applicable, students are prepared for the theory and ear training components of instrumental/vocal examinations, high school credits, and postsecondary theory placement but the main reason to take Sound Advice theory classes is to develop a deeper understanding of how music “works” and to foster a life-long enjoyment of music. Students will sometimes cover more than one level per year, but this varies depending on the level and age of the student.

Group Classes & Individual lessons will be offered both in-person and online via Zoom for the 2021-22 Academic Year.

Contact the coordinator for all registration placement and schedule information:
Crystal Wiksyk, Theory Coordinator: [email protected]

Theory & Ear-Training for Beginners

Levels 1 or 2
Students learn to read music and/or improve their music reading and aural skills. These one term courses lay a foundation for further studies of any instrument and enrich early studies. Parents welcome.

Levels 3 or 4
Using materials from the Sound Advice program, students continue to improve their music reading skills in both pitch and rhythm as well as related aural skills by learning to compose their own music. Suitable for students who are already singing/learning an instrument.

Theory & Ear-Training Levels 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8
These classes are offered throughout the week and it may be possible to join in the Spring term. Contact the theory coordinator for more information.
Sound Advice Theory – Level 4 – Online
Sound Advice Theory – Level 5 – Online
Sound Advice Theory – Level 6 – Online
Sound Advice Theory – Level 7 – Online
Sound Advice Theory – Level 8 – Online

New classes can be created on a limited basis for the Spring 2023 term. Contact the theory coordinator, [email protected] for more information. 

Sound Advice for Adults  – returning  January  2023
Using material from the Sound Advice program, students learn to read music and/or improve their reading and aural skills, laying the foundation for further studies and enriching early music studies. These classes provide an excellent foundation for future or current instrumental studies and enrich early music training. The courses are designed to make all your musical involvements more enjoyable, as your increased knowledge provides new levels of understanding and musical independence.

Instructor: Rachel Hill – Online

Appropriate levels are determined prior to students enrolling in these classes. Contact the Theory Coordinator at [email protected]  to be placed in the appropriate class.


Harmony, Counterpoint, and History

Introductory Harmony
This one-semester course provides an excellent foundation for further studies in Harmony & Counterpoint. Students are introduced to four-part harmony, counterpoint, seventh chords, improvising over chord progressions, baroque dances, song writing ear-training and more. Days and times will be coordinated with the Theory Coordinator and interested students – contact Crystal Wiksyk: [email protected]

Harmony 9, or Harmony & Counterpoint 10
Instructors: Crystal Wiksyk and Thilo Shiller
Lesson dates/times to be arranged – contact Theory Coordinator
Topics include melody writing, harmonization in four parts, counterpoint, harmonic and structural analysis, modulation and form as required for RCM Level 9 or 10 Harmony and Counterpoint examinations.

Advanced Harmony and Counterpoint
Instructor: Thilo Shiller
Lesson dates/times to be arranged – contact Theory Coordinator

Keyboard Harmony
Instructor: Anna Cal
Lesson dates/times to be arranged – contact Theory Coordinator
Improvising over chord progressions, baroque dances, song writing ear-training and more.

Instructor: Robert Holliston
Music History classes are suitable for all students, from school age through to adults and seniors, either as a complement to studio instruction, or simply for music appreciation. Courses offered integrate into all of theory classes up to level 8. As of level 9, three levels of advanced History classes are offered. All classes align with the RCM’s 2016 theory syllabus and prepare students to write the corresponding History examination held in May.
History 9 – Online | Full Year: Sep 14 – May 10
History 10 – Online | Full Year: Sep 14 – May 10
History ARCT – Online | Full Year: Sep 15 – May 11

Program Details

Contact the coordinator for all registration placement and schedule information:
Crystal Wiksyk, Theory Coordinator: [email protected]


Crystal Wiksyk

Crystal Wiksyk is a theory and musicianship instructor at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, where she coordinates the Classical Music Theory program within the Ann & George Nation Conservatory of Classical Music. Crystal teaches group classes as well as individual lessons at the VCM, and has taught theory and musicianship classes for the VCM/Camosun College Diploma program. She is the co-author of three publications for the Royal Conservatory of Music, and also leads the Music Theory programming for the VCM’s Summer Academy. Crystal is a Royal Conservatory certified theory teacher and long-time member of the BC Registered Music Teachers Association.

Christine Donkin

I am a Canadian composer, and I teach theory and composition at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Although my explorations into music composition began as a solitary pursuit, I have in recent years had the honour of collaborating with a wide variety of instrumentalists, vocalists, writers, and fellow composers. I have never specialised: I compose music for students and amateurs as well as for professionals. With the passage of time, my focus is shifting from my own development to that of young people who want to express themselves creatively through music.

Rachel Hill

A graduate from the University of Victoria with a Bachelor of Music Degree, Rachel Hill also holds a Music Diploma in piano and voice from Douglas College in New Westminster. Her teaching career began at the age of 19 when she was selected for the music teacher apprenticeship program at an established music studio in Surrey, BC. Her established teaching practice includes knowledge of a wide variety of curriculum, individualised to meet the musical preferences of her students which range from classical to contemporary. She endeavours to pass on her enthusiasm and love of music to her students who range from the very young to adults.

Anna Cal

ANNA CAL is trained in the famous tradition of Russian piano schools. She studied at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg with well-known Russian performers and professors including Vitaly Berzon, Pavel Yegorov and the late Helen Shishko. She holds Master degrees with high distinction in three fields: piano performance, piano pedagogy and collaborative piano. After studying in Russia, Anna spent two years in Rome, Italy where she worked as a soloist and a voice coach. Anna is a senior teacher at the Victoria Conservatory of Music where she teaches piano, piano pedagogy and collaborative piano. She is Director of Collaborative piano and Interpretation in German Lieder Projects. Anna is a frequent performer in Victoria as a soloist and in collaboration with vocalists and instrumentalists.

Thilo Schaller

Thilo Schaller teaches Music Technology courses as part of the VCM/Camosun Certificate in Music Technologies, and works with students via the Camosun Distributed Learning Platform (Desire2Learn). Thilo composes autonomous music as well as for various media contexts. His works have been performed in England, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Tanzania, Spain, Canada, and Italy. Thilo’s music is often described as contemporary and accessible. His first score for Canadian film was nominated for the Alberta Film and Television Awards in 2014. […]

Daniel Brandes

Daniel Brandes has been a faculty member at the Victoria Conservatory of Music since 2015, where he has worked and taught in a number of areas. He teaches theory and ear training courses and lessons in the Postsecondary and Music Technology & Creativity program areas, as well as the Creative Impulse, a course focusing on cultivating creative practices. Additionally, Daniel is the program director and lead choir director for the VCM’s ChoirKids program delivered tuition-free through VCM Children’s Music Outreach into underserved schools in the Capital Regional District. As of July 2021, Daniel is the Artistic Director of the VCM’s […]

Robert Holliston

Robert Holliston studied at the Victoria Conservatory of Music under Robin Wood and Winifred Scott Wood, and at the University of British Columbia under Robert Rogers. As an accompanist and chamber player he has performed throughout Canada and the USA, England and New Zealand, and has been heard frequently on CBC-Radio. He has recorded CDs with the popular salon ensemble Viveza, trombonist Ian McDougall, tenor Ken Lavigne, his brother Tom Holliston, Show Business Giants, and members of the Hornby Island Ensemble. Robert has collaborated with many of Canada’s leading singers, including Richard Margison, Benjamin Butterfield, Judith Forst, Nathalie Paulin, Susan (…)