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Music theory for complete beginners

The fundamentals of sound in time, learn how to teach yourself to read, write basic rhythms and the skill to play them
4.5 (50 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
3,070 students enrolled
Created by Miguel Fajardo
Last updated 2/2016
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 30 mins on-demand audio
  • 18 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV

This course is about understanding the very basis of music: sound. More precisely of sound in time. No matter what kind of instrument or musical endeavor you're interested, the most fundamental concepts are always the basics of sound in time, the rhythm.

We take an approach to study the basics of music in a way everyone can learn with no past musical experience whatsoever.

It is directed toward people with no means to find a good teacher, or who wants to learn by himself.

We include tutorials, exercises, and dictations as our main way to understand and practice the concepts.

Our approach is 100% practical, you should be making some rhythms from the very beginning, and have some solid skills by the end of the course.

Is very important to take a course like this before trying to learn any instrument, or try to compose, because, you need a solid foundation that sometimes teachers don't have the time to share.

Who is the target audience?
  • Total beginners who want to learn the most basic fundamentals of music
  • Intermediate or advanced musicians who want to refresh and solidify their understanding and skill of rythm
  • People who want to learn a new instrument by themselves but don't understand the concepts in books or tutorials
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What Will I Learn?
Read basic rhythms in any kind of instrument
Write durations of sound by ear
Understand the most important fundamentals of music: Beat, Tempo, Bars, Time Signatures etc
Understand rhythmic values of Whole, half, quarter, eights and sixteenth notes
Understand and apply rhythmical concepts of ties and dotted notes
Understand and apply the concepts of accentuated notes, syncopation, and off beat notes
View Curriculum
  • Notebook and pencil are enough
  • A keyboard would be really good
  • A smartphone with a metronome app would really be useful
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 40 Lectures Collapse All 40 Lectures 01:52:49
The foundation, how to measure the duration of sounds and silences
5 Lectures 11:28

We'll talk about why is so important to every musician to understand the fundamentals of sound in time, why this course should be taken by every person no matter what instrument or musical endeavor is about to undertake; and also an introduction at the first three concepts to learn in this first section and what's the use of them

Introduction by Miguel Fajardo to the entire course and this section

In this lecture, you'll learn the core concepts that will be used in this course.

Definition of beat, tempo and how to use the metronome

In this lecture, you'll learn how to use the metronome, the beat and the tempo to measure sounds and silences, and a very simple way of music notation for reading and writing sound durations.

How to measure sounds and silences using the metronome, beat and tempo

Let's test what you've learned so far

1 page

This time I'm doing the exercises with you, so you know if you did them right

Exercises review
Basic Rhythms
7 Lectures 18:17

In this lecture you'll learn three fundamentals rhythmic values, called Whole, Half and quarter notes

Whole, Half and quarter notes

In this lecture you'll learn the core concepts of rhythm, what gives aliveness to the rhythmical patterns, and how to create a feeling with rhythm.

Accents and Rhythmic feel

In this lecture you'll learn the standard way of music notation for accents and rhythmic feel through Bars and Time Signatures

Bars and Time Signatures

In this lecture you'll practice your new skills, reading exercises with Whole, Half and Quarter notes, and using bar and time signatures to organice music and give it a rhythmic feel. Lots of stuff...

Exercises for Whole, Half and Quarter notes
1 page

In this lecture you'll start you journey into writing music by ear, the ultimate skill of a musician is to hear something, wether is another musician playing, the radio, or even his own musical thoughts and be able to imitate them with his instrument.

Introduction to dictations

In this audio you'll hear the dictations one by one, you can pause and repeat them as many times as you want. In the resources section is a document you can use as a template for writing the dictations.

Dictations Whole, Half and Quarter notes

Answers to dictations in lecture 11

Dictations Answers
1 page
Advanced Exercises
5 Lectures 10:37

In this lecture you'll learn how to approach not too easy exercises, and you'll be introduced to 3 basic music study techniques.

Intro to Advanced Exercises, and the 3 basic music study techniques

10 advanced exercises for honing your skills, good luck!

Advanced Exercises
1 page

In this audio you can hear how the exercises actually sound

Answers to exercises

We have a template for doing this dictations in the resource section, download it before doing the dictations!

Advanced Dictations

Answers to dictations in lecture 16

Dictations Answers
1 page
Eighth and Sixteenth notes
10 Lectures 19:35

In this lecture you'll learn about Eighths and Sixteenth notes, and one basic method to study them

Tutorial, Eighth and Sixteenth notes

Do the exercises!

1 page

Listen at how the Exercises in lecture 19 sound!

Exercises Answers

Let's test your aural skills!

Dictations Eighth and Sixteenth notes

Answers to dictations in lecture 21

Dictations Answers
1 page

In this lecture you'll learn how to approach the really hard exercises with Eight and Sixteenth notes

Intro to advanced exercises with Eighth and Sixteenth notes

This is getting hard, common you can do it!

Advanced Exercises Eighth and Sixteenth notes
1 page

Answers to exercises in lecture 24

Exercises answers

This time we won't include a template, because in these dictations, both rhythms need to be written instead of just the upper one. But we provide you with the next information: Every dictations has 4 bars, are written in a Time Signature of 4/4, and there are 5 of them.

Advanced Dictations Eighth and Sixteenth notes

Answers to the Dictations in lecture 26

Dictations answers
1 page
Tied and dotted notes, Syncopations and Off beat notes
6 Lectures 19:34

In this lecture you'll learn the concepts of tied and dotted notes and how they affect to the durations of sounds and silences

Tied and dotted notes

In this lecture you'll learn about the concepts of Syncopation and Off beat notes, these two will add a lot of flavor to your rhythmical repertoire.

Syncopations and Off beat notes

These exercises are getting really complicated, make sure you always use the 3 basic study techniques we've seen so far. Never repeat the exercise just for repeat, always make it smart.

Exercises Tied and Dotted notes, Off beat notes and Syncopations
1 page

Template is in the resource section.

Dictations Tied and Dotted notes, Off beat notes and Syncopations

Here you have the audio of the exercises, so you can compare.

Exercises Answers

Answers to dictations in lecture 31

Dictations Answers
1 page
Other rhythmical patterns with Eighths and Sixteenth notes
7 Lectures 20:18

In this lecture we'll take a look at the most common patterns with Eighth and Sixteenth notes

Rhythmical patterns with Eight and Sixteenth notes

In this lecture we'll learn the Final barline, the repeat barline, the anatomy of notes, and other useful rules of music notation

Useful resources for musical notation

Let's practice! This is really hard, but with your new skills and your brain power, you'll be able to dance with it

Exercises Rhythmical patterns with Eight and Sixteenth notes
1 page

Let's test your aural skills, they must be really good at this point. They better are..

Dictations Rhythmical patterns with Eight and Sixteenth notes

Let's hear how exercises in lecture 36 sound

Exercises answers

Answers to Dictations in lecture 37

Dictations answers
1 page

You're officially graduated, we hope you had a good time in this course, and more important, you got a new skill out of this course. Thank you!

About the Instructor
4.5 Average rating
49 Reviews
3,070 Students
1 Course

Started my career in music at age 13, by age 15 I made my first bucks playing at a bar, at age 17 I started my career in music with serious studies in violin, 5 years later I was invited to play in the Symphony Orchestra in San Luis, Mexico. While in the orchestra I always had a job as music teacher in the youth Symphony Orchestra, then I knew Jazz, and made a very unexpected turn in my career, getting very deep into other styles like Gypsy Jazz and Klezmer. I´ve played in many places including all over Mexico, Munich in Germany, New Orleans, San Antonio and Wisconsin in the US.

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