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Welcome to The Music Theory Academy – helping you Learn How To Read Sheet Music. The Academy is a TOTALLY FREE resource for musicians who want to take their musicianship to the next level by learning about music theory.

Whether you are just starting out as a musician, studying for a music theory examination or simply want to become a better musician then the music theory academy is the place for you.

Have a look at the different Music Theory Video Lessons I’ve posted.

If you are a complete beginner you should start with the Beginner Music Theory Lesson

Ternary Form

Ternary Form

Ternary Form A musical structure where the piece is divided into 3 distinct sections. The 1st and last sections are exactly the same as each other and so the form can be written A – B – A as below: Each of the sections sound like complete pieces of music in themselves – you could […]

Simple Binary Form

Binary Form

Binary Form Binary Form describes the structure of a piece of music which is divided into 2 different sections. The 2 sections are usually labelled A and B. The key concept to grasp is that there is some sort of contrast between the A section and the B section. This contrast is usually (though not […]



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 music is to think of the punctuation you find at pauses and breaks in spoken speech. Take the following spoken rhyme: Notice how there are […]

Theme and Variations Structure

Theme and Variations

Theme and Variations Theme and variations is a very common musical structure you will come across, especially in classical music. The structure is built upon a musical idea called the theme which is played at the start of the piece. The theme can be as short as 8 bars in length or can be much […]

Pedal Point Sheet Music

Pedal Point

Pedal Point A pedal point is a sustained note during which the harmony above it changes in some way so that the overall sound becomes dissonant. As with a lot of music theory it is easier to see it and hear it rather than trying to work out what a definition is talking about so […]

relative major and minor keys

Relative Major and Relative Minor Scales

Relative Major and Relative Minor Scales Relative keys have the same key signature (number of sharps or flats). For every note in the chromatic scale there is a relative major scale and a relative minor scale. It is a really good tool when you are composing as it makes it very easy to modulate (change […]



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, but alters them to give more expression to the performance. Rubato is one of the most controversial performing techniques in music. It divides opinion like […]

Music Pulse


Pulse Pulse or beat is a crucial element of music. The presence (or absence) of a pulse in a musical composition will have a direct impact upon its success. You will find it easy to understand the role of the pulse in music if you keep a clear idea in your mind of the different […]

Musical Structures

Musical Structures

Musical Structures Structure is a crucial element of music. It describes how the different sections in a piece of music are positioned together to form the composition. There are 3 key concepts you need to grasp: Contrast Repetition Continuity In order to understand these concepts in musical structure it is helpful to see them in […]

Musical Interval D to A

Musical Intervals

Musical Intervals The difference in pitch between two notes is called the interval. You will mainly come across this as musicians in 2 ways: 1. Harmony – when two or more notes are played at the same time. The difference in pitch between them is called the interval 2. Melody – when one note is […]

blues pentatonic scale

The Blues Scales

The Blues Scales I am always getting asked by piano players, guitarists and solo instrumentalists to show them the blues scale. They think that learning the “blues scale” will help them to write and perform blues style music – and they are correct! However, there are actually 4 different “blues scales” that can be used […]

C major Degrees of the Scale

The Degrees of the Scale

The Degrees of the Scale Every major and minor scale has 8 notes. These individual notes are called degrees of the scale. We could number them 1-8, but this would get confusing when we start to talk about other numbers such as beats in a bar, chord numbers and fingering for instruments such as piano […]

piano keyboard d natural minor scale

The Minor Scales

The Minor Scales The minor scale is the scale which sounds negative – it is used by composers to depict sad, melancholic or even angry/dramatic moods. However, there are in fact 3 minor scales which you will come across. Each one sounds similarly “minor-like”, but they also have their own unique flavour. Let’s have a […]

The Major Scale

The Major scale The major scale is the scale which sounds positive – it is used when a composer wants to depict happiness, hope, joy or even a party atmosphere. In order to be able to recognise and play a major scale you need to understand semitones (half tones) and tones. Semitones Look at the […]

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 would not exist! Think of the elements of music like the crucial elements of a car. A car needs wheels, an engine, brakes, doors, a […]

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 must be felt and played, not just read so, as we go through this session make sure you try out the examples. Feel The Pulse […]

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