The Syllabus

The syllabus of The Essentials of Music Theory is divided on 4 modules : Preparatory Level (pre-beginner), Beginner Level, Intermediate Beginner Level and Advanced Beginner Level:


Module 1 (pre-beginner) | 3 Compulsory Elements of Written Music:

  • Lesson 1: What is the pitch of a sound, and how is it shown in written music?
  • Lesson 2: What is the range of sound? Which characteristics of musical instruments have an impact on their range?
  • Lesson 3: What is a stave? The construction of a stave and its purpose. Single and double stave. Discover how the pitch of a sound changes as the note progresses up and down the stave. Which orchestral instruments use single stave and which use double?
  • Lesson 4: What is the clef? Clef vs register. Learn about the evolution of the musical clef, from medieval to modern-day. Learn about different clefs, including those that are no longer in use. Understand which hand, and part of the keyboard, the music is written for.


Module 2 (beginner) | The Notes:

  • Lesson 5: General facts about written notes.
  • Lesson 6: Alphabetical progression of the keys on the piano keyboard. What is an octave? The names of the 7 octaves on the piano keyboard.
  • Lesson 7: The position of individual keys on the piano keyboard and the double stave. (Navigate around using an interactive keyboard, listen to the sound of each key and see its position on the double stave).
  • Lesson 8: Learn about accidentals (sharps and flats).
  • Lesson 9: Ottava and Ottava Bassa. Learn how to read and write notes that fall beyond the stave.


Module 3  (intermediate beginner) | The Rhythm in Written Music:

  • Lesson 10: How the music note is constructed (how the shape of the different elements of a note influences its duration).
  • Lesson 11: Note values.
  • Lesson 12: Rests and their rhythmical values. Learn how the shape of rest influences its duration. Learn how rhythmical values of rests correlate to the note values.
  • Lesson 13: Dotted and tied notes. Learn how to extend any note value with a dot or tie.
  • Lessons 14: Bar-lines and bars. Learn why there are bars in music and what bar lines do.
  • Lesson 15-16: Time signatures (including simple and compound time). 3 shapes of the time signature (duple, triple and quadruple). Learn how to read a time signature, what it does and how to identify any time signature as simple or compound time.
  • Lesson 17: Duple, triple and quadruple meters.
  • Lesson 18: Simple and Compound Time.


Module 4 (advanced beginner) | The Basics of Music Harmony and Analysis:

  • Lessons 19- 25: Tones and semitones (whole steps and half steps). Understand the difference between whole steps and half steps. Learn how to identify them on the score and the keyboard before proceeding to intervals. Learn about melodic and harmonic major, minor, diminished and augmented intervals. Learn both English and Italian names of intervals.
  • Lesson 26: Major and minor scales. Understand why some music pieces sound sad and others happy. Learn major and minor scale formulas and confidently build any scale!
  • Lesson 27: The key signature. Understand why some keys have more sharps or flats than others. Learn how to identify any key signature of any piece of music quickly.
  • Lesson 28: Scale degrees. Learn about primary and secondary scale degrees and their English and Italian names, in preparation for learning about Primary and Secondary chords.
  • Lesson 29: Primary and Secondary chords (triads). Learn everything about primary and secondary triads.
  • Lesson 30: Performance directions. Learn about the different types of performance directions, their abbreviations and what they mean.