What you will learn on this course.
This is not a complete course of music theory. There are web sites available which dedicate themselves to exactly that, so do not expect to follow these lessons and become Andrew Lloyd Weber or André Rieu! What you will be able to do however, is understand basic music theory. After studying these tutorials you will be able to:-
- Name notes from a 12 note chromatic scale.
- Know how these notes relate to the lines and spaces of the two main Clefs (Treble and Bass).
- Understand note length.
- Know what a measure (bar) is.
- Understand time signatures.
- Learn about basic rhythm.
- Know what leger lines are.
- Learn the composition of the Major and minor Scales.
- Understand intervals
- Understand basic chord theory and it’s relationship to Key Signatures.
- And lots more…
Understanding the above will give you a grounding in basic music theory, and will prepare you, should you wish, to continue to a more advanced level (which could one day be a subject within this web site!)
What do you need to start with?
Obviously the first requirement is the want to learn music. Since you are reading this page, it is assumed that this first basic requirement already exists. It would be useful, though not essential, if you have access to a musical instrument (preferably a keyboard of some kind). In the absence of access to a musical instrument we can always use our own personal instrument – our own voice! Many people are unaware that the voice is a musical instrument, but it is the most natural instrument known to man. We all have one and it’s always with us, we just need to know how to use it. That bit comes later; first we will learn the basics of written music theory!
Let’s look and listen to an excerpt from a well known piece by Beethoven – Für Elise. Note: to activate the video you may have to place your mouse pointer inside the video when the controls will become visible – if they are not already visible!
The above is an extract from a composition by Ludwig Van Beethoven called Für Elise. Whilst it is a fairly simple arrangement for an unaccompanied piano, the music notation will be a page of meaningless dots, lines and symbols to the uninitiated. The purpose of this primer is to give an insight into the make up of a music score like the one above and allow the student to achieve a basic knowledge of music theory.
Using the lesson plans.
I have arranged the lesson plans in such a way that, by using the main menu at the top of the page, you can skip to any lesson you want. This enables people with some knowledge to skip some of the more basic lessons, but more importantly, it allows you to return easily to previous lessons for revision purposes. Whilst reading a lesson you may come across a link that, when you hover over it, will give you more detailed information like This One. You may come across such a link as part of a chapter heading or somewhere in the page text. These links provide further information on a particular topic – should you wish to pursue it.
Revision and testing
It is intended to create some self test functionality to ensure that you have grasped the fundamentals of each lesson and you should return to these tests periodically to do some revision.
How often should I practice?
How long you decide to spend on a learning session is entirely up to you. I recommend that you find your optimum practice/learning time and stick loosely to that. For most people this will probably be about half an hour on a daily basis, but, that will be different for each individual and will depend on various conditions. For example, if you are unemployed or retired you will probably be able to devote more time to your studies, whereas a person in full employment will obviously have much less time available. It is also important that you do not try to do too much at once. These lessons have been designed as individual studies, and it is important that you understand every aspect of a lesson before moving on to the next one. Some people may be able to study one lesson per day, others only one a week. Since I do not know you or your learning capabilities, then only you will be able to make that decision.
Some final thoughts
A few other things to note before we get down to business: If you feel tired when practicing then cut your lesson time down. You can always take up from where you left off when you re-commence and you will find the learning process more efficient and rewarding. Trying to do too much in one session will only tire and frustrate you, and could even cause you to give up before you have given yourself a ‘fair crack of the whip.’ However, do try to spend at least a short time daily learning or revising. It is better to do a little often than to try to endure an occasional marathon session.
Okay, If you are ready, lets get down to business and on to our first lesson: Notes and Scales.