Music Theory Classes


Music Theory Classes
What’s your experience?

Over at we had our largest number of guests ever last month, with over 14,000 unique visitors viewing the site – thank you all for stopping by! This got me wondering a little about who you are all are. We’ve got a small number of fans on Facebook now – you can become a fan by clicking the link in the Facebook box to the right of this article, and it’s really nice to see some faces of people who use the site – and wonderful that the fans so far come from every corner of the globe! We’ve got a handful of fans from the UK, Malaysia and the USA, and fans from 14 other countries – not bad from only 31 fans!

It would be really interesting to know what brings you to the site. Are you taking music theory classes at school, or may be privately? Are you studying at university? Are you a teacher? Add a comment below and tell me why you use the site!

 I get a lot of lovely emails from guests to the site, and occasionally people ask me about my own background – how I got  into music theory studies and why I do the site for free, for example.

I never attended music theory classes as a kid (although I certainly did while studying music at university). I taught myself how to read music (treble clef) using a recorder book when I was about 7 or 8, I think, and then transferred what I’d learnt to playing the piano. The only problem was that I was still using recorder books, and was playing recorder duets as though they were written for piano! My left hand was expert in the treble clef, but I had no idea about the bass. I started piano lessons at about 10, and remember struggling at the start because I was so used to expecting the left hand to have a treble clef line! I soon added in clarinet lessons as well as French horn at school, and before long my piano teacher decided to get me started on music theory.  We spent a few minutes of each half hour lesson going through past papers, starting at grade 1, when I was around grade 2 on piano.

Meanwhile at school, music theory classes were so easy! I don’t think we learnt anything about how to read music. I do remember watching “Mary Poppins” and other musicals, and messing about with percussion instruments. Even when I got to GCSE level, music theory wasn’t taught in class – by that stage we were expected to know it already. I wonder if it’s the only GCSE music where you are expected to learn the material outside of school? (Although I’ve heard that you don’t even need to be able to read music to do a GCSE in it these days. I took mine in 1989, the second year after they were introduced. We did O level papers as practice exams, and they were so much harder!)

My piano teacher got me through all the past papers up to grade 5, and I remember being really nervous before the exam, even though I knew everything inside out! I got 96 out of 99 (it used to be marked out of 99 for some reason!) and still wonder what I lost those three marks on.

Ever since the first days of attempting the grade 1 past papers, I’ve just loved music theory. I like the fact that it combines the logical/mathematical with the artistic/creative in a way that very few other subjects do. I’ve been a teacher for the last 12 years, and apart from teaching music I’m also a qualified and experienced English teacher. I  run because I love teaching and nothing gives me more pleasure than being able to encourage others in their learning. I know that many music students don’t get the tuition they need in their music theory classes at school, and often their instrument teachers don’t have the time (and sometimes the knowledge) to train their students adequately, and that’s a shame.

I’ve never met anyone who regrets studying music theory, classes at school or wherever. It increases your enjoyment of music, makes you a better performer, and is even really good for your brain – research has shown that doing activities which employ both halves of your brain (i.e. the logical and the creative) can actually increase your overall brain power – because such activities cause new neural links to grow between the two hemispheres.

So what about you – what do you (or don’t you) get from your music theory classes, and what motivates you to learn music theory?



Music Theory Classes — 5 Comments

  1. I am a self taught musician of over thirty years experience, but never learned to read notation. I am now, at 48, studying music at the open university. I really struggle with notation and got through the coursework of A214 by having a good ear, but when it came to the exam I was so slow through not being able to hear the examples that I failed it. I take my resit on the 21st April, and have been using your site for revision. Thanks for the resource, very clear and well laid out.

  2. Just came across this blog and have added it to my RSS feed. I learnt flute at school (only to Grade 3) and after a 20-year hiatus picked it up again a few years ago (got my Grade 4 last year!). Like you, I don't remember learning any theory at school so I do struggle with the musical jargon quite a bit.

    I'm sticking with it, though, as I have started to compose some little tunes and have found it amazing, absorbing fun.

    Thanks for such a useful site!

  3. Hi I am from Barbados and 52! I came across your website as I was trying to find some exercise questions for my son, 13, who is sitting theory grade 2 in a couple weeks. He has also completed his grade 1 and 2 practical in piano. Theory is taught in his school and he does very well. He is thinking of doing the guitar in school as he is doing the piano privately.

    My brother (deceased)and now my niece and sister all excel at the guitar with my niece performing quite often. They are both trained in classical finger style and have given me the inspiration to start again.

    My background is mainly with singing. I completed from grade 4 to grade 8 (inclusive) in singing obtaining merit in both grade 7 and 8 as an 18 year old. My sight reading let me down in both examinations. Still I felt great with my singing. However I did not do anymore with my singing as my teacher felt that, at that time, my voice was to "young" to continue with the LRSM and although I have done a lot of singing since then not in terms of higher certificates.

    Many years later (at age 34) in London through a great friend I sat grade 1 and 2 in piano obtaining 141 out of 150 in the practical grade 1! That was awesome as I was only doing this on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed it as I had stopped piano at 16.

    I recently started playing (couple years) the guitar along with currently singing in a choir.

    I love music theory and hope also that your website will be of assistance to me.

    Thanks or creating it!

  4. Hi i was writing Dance music for a few years but found that my music suffered due to not having the knowledge of theory of music. I took a course last year on the theory of music in Belfast Met collage in which i really enjoyed and also taking piano lessons in which my tutor says im flying through. I found your website the day before my grade 5 exam and i just wish i had found it earlier as it is fantastic. Help my through a few questions in my exam. Keep up the good work

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