Free Intro to Music Theory Course at Coursera.org

I absolutely love the music theory and history courses offered by coursera.org. All courses are free and are offered by some of the biggest names in music education.

The Berklee School of Music offers a six week course called Developing Your Musicianship that was originally designed for incoming freshmen that have no music theory background. It is great for high school students to take before taking AP Music Theory or before they start college. The course has a specific focus on harmony and ear training: two topics that are often overlooked. From the website:

The course will teach you the major scale and minor pentatonic scale, and how they are constructed. You will learn what intervals are, how to sing them, and how to find them in music. The course explores tonal centers and how to find the key a song is in, in addition to common time signatures such as 4/4 and 3/4. You will learn how to build chords—major and minor triads, and major and dominant seventh chords—and how to build a common chord progression—the I IV V. You will also learn how to recognize the blues and AABA song forms, and write a basic chord sheet to express your song ideas.

The instructor videos are engaging and fun. The handouts are really useful and well-done. There are quizzes given along the way that check for understanding. If you have a student who is committed to learning theory, this is the course for him/her (or you if you need to brush up!). It is only offered during certain weeks of the year though, so you have to plan ahead.

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