Music Theory Lessons

Welcome to The Music Theory Academy – a TOTALLY FREE resource for musicians who want to take their musicianship to the next level by learning about music theory.

Music Theory for Beginners


I have grouped a lot of the lessons on this site together to produce a number of free online music theory courses depending on your level of musicianship.

If you are a complete beginner you should start with the Beginner Music Theory Lesson. This lesson is the start of my Music Theory for Beginners course and will give you a basic introduction to reading music. The beginner course covers topics such as pitch, Treble Clef, note lengths, basic rhythms, dynamics, tempo and tones/semitones.

Intermediate Online Music Theory Course

If you already have some knowledge of musical theory then I would suggest looking at some of the topics in my Intermediate Course. This course includes Bass Clef, sharps and flats, rests, complex rhythms and more complicated dynamics.


Advanced Music Theory

For those of you who are already fairly advanced in your musical understanding the Advanced Course will help you learn how to read music of all levels. The advanced topics include dotted notes, tied notes, triplets, time signatures, Alto Clef and Tenor Clef.


You will also find lots of other free music theory lessons throughout the site covering topics such as structure, chords, tonality, composing and many more! Feel free to browse through the online lessons to find the topic you are looking for or use the search bar at the bottom of the site if you are looking for a specific aspect of musical theory.

There are also a number of music theory quizzes and worksheets to help you embed your understanding.

Whether you are just starting out as a musician and are looking for some music theory for beginners, studying for an advanced music theory examination or simply want to become a better musician then the music theory academy is the ideal place for you to learn music.



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Beginner Piano Lessons

Play Your First Piano Piece

Beginner Piano Lesson 1 It’s so exciting that you want to learn how to play the piano. The piano is a fantastic instrument – you can play a huge range...
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Play Piano With Your Left Hand

Beginner Piano Lesson 2 In Beginner Piano Lesson 1 we had an introduction to the piano, looked at how to find Middle C (2 black notes, etc..), learned how to...
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How To Play Faster Piano Notes

Beginner Piano Lesson 3 In Beginner Piano Lesson 2 you learnt how to play some notes using your left hand, whilst reading Bass Clef. In this lesson you are going...
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Improve Your Left Hand Playing

Beginner Piano Lesson 4 In Beginner Piano Lesson 3 we looked at how to play faster notes and how to change the volume of our playing. In this Beginner Piano...
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Playing Leaps

Beginner Piano Lesson 5 In Beginner Piano Lesson 4 we looked at improving your left hand playing by learning how to read and play eighth notes and working on playing...
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How To Play Piano With Both Hands

In this final lesson of my beginner piano course we are going to look at how to play piano music that combines both the right hand and the left hand....
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Musical Periods

Romantic Period Music

The Romantic period of music is from 1830 to 1900.The Romantic period was a time where composers, artists and authors moved away from the formal restraint of the Classical period.In...
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Classical Music

The Classical period of music is from 1750 to 1830. Classicism was a stylistic development in mid 1700s across the arts and architecture which was hugely influenced by the ancient...
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Baroque Music

The Baroque Period of music is from 1600-1750 (it is generally considered to finish sometime around the death of JS Bach in 1750 and Handel in 1759). This was a...
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Medieval Music

The Medieval Period of music is the period from the years c.500 to 1400. It is the longest “period” of music (it covers 900 years!!) and runs right through from...
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Renaissance Music

The Renaissance Music Period covers the time from c.1400 – 1600. We are going to look at the key features of Renaissance music so you can get a good basic...
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Recent Music Theory Lessons

Treble Clef

The treble clef is a symbol that is printed at the start of a line of sheet music to assign the lines and spaces of the staff to specific note...
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Tenor Clef

The Tenor Clef is centred on the fourth line up of the stave, which corresponds to middle C. As a result, the Tenor Clef is also referred to as a...
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Alto Clef

The Alto Clef is sometimes known as the C Clef because the indent of the clef sits on the middle line of the staff which corresponds to middle C. Alto...
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Ground Bass

Ground Bass is a composition technique built upon a short theme played in the bass which constantly repeats with changing harmonies. The bass theme does not change, but the parts...
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Imitation

Imitation in music describes a composing device where a melody is played/sung and then repeated in a different voice. It is a device that is used in a wide range...
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Augmentation and Diminution

Augmentation and diminution are two musical techniques used by composers to develop/vary a melody. They are great tools for you to be able to understand and use as a composer....
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Sequences

What are Sequences in Music? A sequence is the “more or less exact repetition of a passage at a higher or lower level of pitch”. (The Oxford Dictionary of Music,...
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pitch

How to read music – Getting Started   In this beginner lesson we’re going to look at some of the basics of sheet music. The only background knowledge you need...
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Sharps and Flats

If you’ve looked at the lesson on Getting Started then you will now know how to read sheet music for the white notes (otherwise known as the naturals) on a...
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Bass Clef

Why do we need a Bass Clef? The Bass Clef always poses problems for people trying to learn how to read music. I often get asked what the point of...
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Key Signatures

What are Key Signatures? Music is often described as the universal language. However, there are variations within this language. Key signatures tell us what dialect/variation of this universal language we...
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Tempo

  What is Tempo in Music? Tempo describes the speed of the pulse/beat of a piece of music. The choice of tempo (speed) of a piece of music has a...
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Cadences

Cadences A cadence is a chord progression of at least 2 chords that ends a phrase or section of a piece of music. The easiest way to understand cadences in...
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Rubato

Rubato The definition of rubato is a flexibility/freedom in the performance of a rhythm. Basically, rubato is when a performer doesn’t stick to the strict rhythms written by the composer,...
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How To Read Sheet Music For Piano

Learning how to read sheet music for piano can be quite daunting at first because it looks like a series of lots of lines and dots with several random symbols...
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the elements of music

The Elements of Music The elements of music can be seen as being the building blocks of music. Without them, music (of any style/age) would not exist because sound itself...
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Reading Straight Rhythms

Today we’re going to start to learn how to read and play on-beat (straight) rhythms. The only way to learn rhythms is to have a go at playing them. Rhythm...
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Making it Easy

Learning To Read Music The Easy Way Many people are daunted by the prospect of learning how to read music. They know it is going to help make them a...
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Reading Complex Rhythms

In the previous lesson of how to read sheet music we looked at simple rhythms involving whole notes, half notes and quarter notes). However, most of the music you are...
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How To Read Guitar Sheet Music

How To Read Guitar Sheet Music Learning how to read standard guitar notation is very similar to learning how to read music for any instrument. The basic features of a...
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How To Read Chords

So you’ve decided that you want to learn how to read sheet music – that’s excellent news! Learning to read music is definitely going to take your musicianship onto a...
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Getting Started

So you’ve decided that you want to learn how to read sheet music – that’s excellent news! Learning to read music is definitely going to take your musicianship onto a...
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Transposing Instruments

When you are playing an instrument like a piano or a flute, if you read a “C” and play a “C” then the note will sound as a “C” –...
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Rests

In looking at how to read music we’ve talked about duration and how rhythm is built upon knowing what notes to play and for how long; but what about knowing...
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Triplets Made Easy

You may have noticed that the divisions of beats you normally come across are in factors of 2 (½, ¼, ⅛, etc..) (the technical term for these rhythms is duplets). However,...
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Dynamics Part 2

Dynamic Changes In the last post on dynamics we looked at how I can work out what volume to play at when learning how to read sheet music. In this...
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Dynamics

Dynamics in Music In music, dynamics are defined as the different volume levels of a piece of music at any given moment. Dynamics markings and symbols are written to show...
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Vocal Music

I know that many of you are singers and want to learn how to read music either as soloists or in a group/choir. It can be quite daunting when you...
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