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Understanding the basics of music will make you a better songwriter, guitarist, pianist, producer, and overall just a better musician. We recommend a music theory course for anyone interested in creating music. While you may know what melody, rhythm, and harmony are, you’ll better understand music when you dive deeply into a course, rather than a quick overview. Here are 5 of the best online music theory courses.
This is definitely a deep dive into the world of music theory. It’s a great course for beginners, but it is an intensive course. With 12 hours of on-demand videos, 35 articles, and 34 downloadable sources, you aren’t short of any info. You’ll be learning over 50 topics that cover all you need to know about music theory. It’s a lot, but it’s split into 3 sections. So maybe try a section a week or a month. And when you’re feeling up for it, you can consider parts 4-12.
A happy customer gave the course a 5-star rating and wrote, “Jason is an excellent educator who would do his best to explain the tough Music Theory concepts in layman’s terms. But the best thing about him is that – he replies to all of my questions regarding the subject! He is very hands-on! I am very happy choosing this course with him as the instructor! Way worth the price!” Jason is one of the best y’all. He’s a jack of all trades — composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, etc. J. Anthony Allen teaches at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN.
Berklee offers 6 lessons for basic music theory. George W. Russell, Jr. and Berklee students will equip you with key concepts to understand, create, and perform contemporary music. The course is 6 weeks long (3-5 hours per week) and is self-paced. You’ll learn how to construct major and minor scales, identify the tonal center of a song, build basic major, minor, and dominant seventh chords, and a whole lot more. Consider this pick if you’ve learned by ear and would like formal training.
So maybe you’re a guitarist and music theory isn’t entirely new to you, but you’re looking to learn more. Consider Henry Olsen’s music theory for guitar class. The intermediate course is a great pick for musicians looking to further their craft of understanding the fretboard, building chords, and being able to play in any key. What you’ll learn: the musical alphabet and how to master it without years of frustration, visualizing the fretboard, and learning all the musical keys over the neck with ease. And that’s not even a quarter of the coursework. Henry Olsen is a beginner guitar expert with 16+ years of experience. If you’re eager to skip the “frustration” that typically leads to quitting, Henry is your guy.
Beatmakers and producers will enjoy this class specifically designed for them. As a student, you’ll learn music theory fundamentals, major, minor, and diminished chords, counting beats and staying in time, and more. You’ll have a better understanding of where and when to use your notes. Riley Weller is an artist and music producer with over 32,000 students and 25 courses.
Here’s a popular course for pianists looking to learn the basics of the piano, along with music theory. 1.5 hours of on-demand video training allows you to learn proper piano technique, how to read sheet music, major, minor, diminished, and augmented chords, the circle of 5ths, and much more. It is a short course compared to many options, but the creator really gets to the point.
**All products are independently chosen by American Songwriter editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
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