Music Fundamentals for Adult Learners

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This introduction to music theory course will give students a sound foundation in the fundamentals of the music staff, bass and treble clefs, rhythm and time signatures.

What You’ll Learn

A solid understanding of the basic building blocks of musical theory and notation.


  • A panio or keyboard
  • A computer
  • Willingness to study

Course Curriculum

    Topic outline

      • General news and announcements.
      • Major sources for this glossary include The New Harvard Dictionary of Music and National Standards for Arts Education.

      • The course begins with a brief introduction to the fundamental elements of western music notation – the staff, clefs and note names. It then moves on to consider the notation of rhythm and of pitch. In addition, the basic form of the chord (the triad) is included, together with a list of the most frequently used performance directions that you will find on notated music (scores). Each section ends with interactive activities that will help you assess how far you understand individual topics or concepts.

      • In order to teach something, we need a consensus on a basic list of elements and definitions.

      • Once you feel you are familiar with the position of the notes on the treble and bass staves, try the following activities.

        If you find these activities difficult, do not be disheartened. Remember that in order to be able to read the names of notes at a glance requires practice over a period of time. Some people find reading symbolic languages easier than others, but everyone has to spend some time in order to become familiar with note names. Of course, if you play an instrument and read notation on a daily basis, then that is a great help when learning note names. However, don’t forget the usefulness of mnemonics  (Section 10). In addition, regular application, a little at a time, is the best approach.


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