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Learn music theory: ABRSM Grades 1 and 2

A course to guide you through the fundamentals of music, covering all of the contents of the official syllabus.
4.8 (10 ratings)
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1,127 students enrolled
Last updated 3/2014
$15 $20 25% off
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 2 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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Today, more and more people are wanting to learn music. Young children are learning to play the piano, guitar, violin, trumpet, and many more instruments. Music is very unlike any other activity. It is what lets you express every feeling with a simple change in volume or pitch, and captivate an audience after a single key press.

This is, if you know what you're doing.

In this course we will cover all of the fundamentals of music as per the ABRSM syllabus for Grades 1 and 2. In ~3 hours you could be covering the same content as usually is covered in a year of music lessons!

Grade 1

  • The staff, notes, and rests.
  • Writing a 2-bar rhythm as necessary for the Grade 1 exam.
  • Tones and semitones
  • Sharps, flats, and naturals
  • Intervals and scales
  • Chords: triad chords

Grade 2

  • Quavers and semiquavers
  • More time signatures (2/2, 3/2, 4/2, and 3/8)
  • More key signatures
  • Minor key signatures
  • EXTRA only in this course: easily find the number of accidentals for a key signature without having to learn them by heart!
  • Melodic and harmonic minor scales
  • Commonly used terms and signs in music

Also, in this course, there are lots of quizzes (one after each piece of content) for you to get all this music knowledge stick in your brain!

I myself have been teaching and studying music for over 12 years, and there is one thing that I notice every time I get a new student: they got taught music theory all wrong. Many of them hated music theory! My method has always helped them get rid of that harmful dislike for what is one of the most important parts of music.

Music theory is the basis of all music. Without it, you cannot understand music, and you cannot know what the composer wanted to convey and express. Therefore you cannot play the music and captivate that audience. Without music theory, you can play random notes and hope they sound well. Maybe you can spend hours to find the tune that sounds well. Knowing how the music works, and why some things sound well and some don't, will save you all this time and let you play brilliant sounding music from the get-go. You will even be able to do this while creating music on the go, and this is called improvising.

However, I won't be teaching you how to play the piano in this course. This course is for students of all instruments, or if you are wanting to create electronic music but feel like you need a more solid grasp of the music fundamentals. It would even be extremely useful if you are a parent who wants to follow along with your kids so that you can help them if they get stuck, just like my mother helped me and my siblings when we were young.

This course contains simple explanations since it is aimed for the very beginner in music. It covers all the necessary contents for students of Grades 1 and 2 in the ABRSM system, which is most common in the UK, US, Canada, India, Australia, Germany, and many other countries. Most likely there are ABRSM examinations available in your country.

After each lesson, you will find a quiz that is there to aid in retaining the contents covered in each lesson. In addition, at the end of each of the two Grades covered there are sample exams to help you test yourself.

Here's what other students are saying some of my other courses

He is very down to earth, concise, and knowledgeable on the lectures he presents. I am looking forward to more advance courses from Jose -- keep up the wonderful work! - "Jay-Ar Jamon"
Was nice and easy to follow for a beginner like me. I'll definitely be revisiting the course again to refresh my memory since it covered so many topics... - "Clara Chen"
Who is the target audience?
  • Kids starting to study music from the very beginning
  • Parents who want to help their kids with their music studies
  • Musicians who play by ear but want to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of music
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What Will I Learn?
To pass with flying colours the music theory sections related to Grades 1 and 2
The fully comprehend and enjoy the fundamentals of music in a down-to-earth way
View Curriculum
  • The software used in this course is free: Finale NotePad 2012
  • Optionally, a pen and manuscript paper can be used too
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 36 Lectures Collapse All 36 Lectures 03:08:09
This course
2 Lectures 05:28

In this lecture we have a look at how to follow the course, and the recommended order of taking lectures, taking notes, and completing quizzes and assignments.

Preview 01:53

In this video we have a look at the piece of software we will be using in the course: Finale NotePad 2012.

You may download this program for free here:

Preview 03:35
Grade 1: Introduction
6 Lectures 36:52

In this lesson we look at what the staff is, and also what 7 different notes we have in music.

Preview 05:37

This quiz is to test your knowledge on the previous video.

Quiz: the staff
4 questions

In this music-writing video we have a first look at writing music with the knowledge he have just gathered in the previous presentation.

Music-writing video: staff, notes, and different values

In this video we take a look at the different note values and how they fit into the key signatures.

Note values

This is a quiz to test your knowledge of the different note values, time signatures, and note names!

Quiz: Note values
4 questions

Music-writing video: note values

In this lesson we learn about how to skip notes when playing by changing them for a "rest".

We also start composing our 2-bar rhythm that we will need for Grade 1.

Rests and rhythm composition

This quiz is meant to test your knowledge on rests and rhythm composition.

Quiz: rests and rhythm composition
5 questions

Music-writing video: rhythm composition
Grade 1: Tones and semitones
11 Lectures 01:03:31

In this lesson we look at how music is divided into semitones, and how two semitones come together to form one tone.

Tones and semitones

This quiz is meant to test your knowledge on tones and semitones.

Quiz: tones and semitones
4 questions

Music-writing video: tones and semitones

In this lesson we take a look at how to raise or lower a note by using what's called an "accidental".

Sharps, flats, and naturals

This quiz is going to test your knowledge on sharps, flat, and naturals.

Quiz: sharps, flats, and naturals
5 questions

Music-writing video: sharps, flats, and naturals

In this lesson we take a look at scales with a new approach. We learn about key signatures.

What is a scale again?

This quiz will test your knowledge on scales.

Quiz: what are scales?
3 questions

Music-writing video: what are scales?

In this lesson we take a look at both Major and Perfect intervals.


This quiz will test your knowledge on intervals.

Quiz: intervals
4 questions

Music-writing video: intervals

In this lesson we take a look at how to play multiple notes together: chords.


This quiz will test your knowledge on chords.

Quiz: chords
4 questions

Music-writing video: chords

This is the first test for Grade 1.

Grade 1 Test 1
3 pages
Grade 2: Introduction
6 Lectures 31:17

In this lesson we take a look at more notes, apart from crotchet, minim, and semibreve. We add two notes to our collection of notes: quaver and semiquaver.

Quavers and semiquavers

Quiz: quavers and semiquavers
2 questions

Music-writing video: quavers and semiquavers

In this lesson we take a look at more time signatures and add those to our collection too.

More time signatures and grouping of notes

Quiz: more time signatures
3 questions

Music-writing video: more time signatures

In this lesson we take a look at how to fit three notes where previously we could only fit two, by playing each one a bit faster.

Triplets and rhythm composition

Quiz: triplets
3 questions

Music-writing video: rhythm composition
Grade 2: Key signatures
11 Lectures 46:55

In this lesson we take a look at more key signatures: A, Bb, and Eb.

More major key signatures and scales

Quiz: more key signatures and scales
4 questions

Music-writing video: more key signatures and scales

In this lesson we take a look at more types of intervals, apart from Major and Perfect, which we have already seen.

Here we look at minor, diminished, and augmented intervals.

Minor, diminished, and augmented intervals

Quiz: more interval types
6 questions

Music-writing video: minor, diminished, and augmented intervals

In this lesson we take a look at minor key signatures, which are counterparts to the Major ones we have already seen.

Minor key signatures

Quiz: minor key signatures
7 questions

Music-writing video: minor key signatures

Easily find accidentals for any key signature using this method.

EXTRA: Easily find accidentals for any key signature

Quiz: easily find accidentals for any key signature
7 questions

In this lesson we take a look at two types of scales only present in minor key signatures: melodic and harmonic.

Melodic and harmonic scales

Quiz: melodic and harmonic scales
4 questions

Music-writing video: melodic and harmonic scales

This document outlines the main terms and signs used in music.

Some commonly used terms and signs in music
1 page

Extra music quizzes
About the Instructor
4.6 Average rating
1,746 Reviews
15,907 Students
6 Courses
Founder of School of Code and Computer Science instructor

I've been teaching computer science and playing and teaching music (grades 1 to 8) for over four years, to students of all ages and all skill levels. Here's my story so far.

I started programming at the age of 10, just a couple years after I started studying music, when my dad, excited that I had showed interest in similar things to himself, taught me the basics of Marin Saric's METAL. Shortly thereafter we moved on to RealBASIC, and from there I started learning, after a couple years, Java and C.

Ever since I started learning programming I knew I wanted to study Computer Science or something along those lines. Last year I ended up at the University of Dundee, studying Applied Computing.

The University of Dundee is one of the most prestigious for computing-related courses, and I was offered the chance to participate in their computing scholarships due to academic achievement.

I have worked for "Eseye", an M2M company, as an intern doing mainly backend developing, writing PHP scripts and programming Zenoss ZenPacks, and currently work for Skyscanner, one of Scotland's largest technology companies, programming mainly in Python and web languages.

At the moment I enjoy programming in Python, Java and C, playing and recording music, usually as an accompanying pianist for singers, and sports and bodybuilding. I hope that my courses are interesting to you, enjoyable and that you learn from them!

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