The internet offers a variety of free courses, tutorials, and lessons for music learners.
These include both courses aimed at those who want to learn how to play a certain instrument and more general courses in Music Theory.
Studying this subject is helpful for both music beginners and those who have learned how to play an instrument but want to deepen their theoretical knowledge.
In this article, we will review various free online resources to help you determine which is the best free music theory course for your specific needs.
Variable (Self-paced learning)
ADDITIONAL FREE TOOLS:
Calculators, Tempo Tapper, Pop-up Piano, Tools for teachers
A very useful website that provides basic free lessons to those interested in learning music theory from scratch.
It has a very simple and intuitive design that makes the website very easy to navigate. You can use the top menu to access free lessons, exercises, and tools.
Lessons are divided into 8 different sections:
- Basics – This section will help you become familiar with the staff, the clefs, the ledger lines, note duration, and other fundamental elements of music theory.
- Rhythm and Meter – Here you will learn about basic and complex time signatures.
- Scales and Key Signatures – In this section, you will find lessons on the major scale and the minor scales. You will also learn about scale degrees and key signatures.
- Intervals – This section contains lessons on generic and specific intervals, as well as tutorials on how to write and invert intervals.
- Chords – Here you will find an introduction to chords as well as useful lessons on triad inversion and seventh chords.
- Diatonic Chords – This section focuses on diatonic triads and diatonic seventh chords. It also covers topics like composing with minor scales and voicing chords.
- Chord Progressions – This section contains lessons on nonharmonic tones, phrases, cadences, circle progressions, and common chord progressions, as well as triads in first and second inversion.
- Neapolitan Chords – Here you will learn how to build and use Neapolitan chords.
A screenshot from the website MusicTheory.net
As you move through the various lessons, you can test your progress thanks to the free exercises provided by this website. Exercises can be accessed by clicking on the link in the top menu and are divided into the following sections:
- Staff Identification – In this section, you can test how good you are at identifying notes, key signatures, intervals, scales, and chords.
- Staff Construction – Here you find exercises on note construction, key signature construction, interval construction, scale construction, and chord construction.
- Keyboard Identification – These exercises will test your ability to identifying keyboard notes, intervals, scales, and chords.
- Fretboard Identification – This section is similar to the previous one but in place of a keyboard, you will test your ability to identify the note, interval, scale, or chord of the marked fretboard.
- Ear Training – A series of useful exercises to train your ear by identifying played notes, intervals, scales, and chords.
The Exercises section also contains an exercise customizer and a code checker for music teachers.
Finally, MusicTheory.net also offers a variety of useful tools for music learners. You can access this area by clicking on Tools in the top menu. Here you will find six different calculators (accidental calculator, interval calculator, scale calculator, chord calculator, analysis calculator, and matrix calculator) as well as other utilities like tempo tapper and a pop-up piano.
MusicTheory.net also offers some paid apps for people using Apple devices but the free lessons are definitely enough and provide learners with a solid foundation in this subject.
TO SUM IT UP: This website is a precious resource for those who want to learn the basics of music theory without spending money on a paid course. It contains several lessons on the most important aspects of music theory, as well as various exercises that will help you test what you have learned. It also offers a number of useful tools that will make your learning experience more effective.
WHAT LEARNERS SAY ABOUT IT:
INCLUDED ADDITIONAL TOOLS:
This beginner’s course in music theory is offered by Udemy, one of the leading online learning platforms. Lessons are provided through videos, which usually require less effort than written lessons. All you need to access this course is a free Udemy account. More than 18,000 students have enrolled until now and its ratings on Udemy are very high.
This course is delivered through simple and organized video lessons.
The course is hosted by a talented teacher with years of experience in Music education. She’s very good at explaining music theory concepts to beginners by explaining basic concepts in a very clear and detailed manner.
This free course is divided into 3 main sections:
- Section 1 focuses on how to read rhythms and measures and consists of 4 lessons.
- Section 2 is about staves and it is also divided into 4 different lessons.
- Section 3 wraps it all up and also includes a link to access bonus material
This course contains one hour of learning material and it will provide you with fundamental music theory notions like rhythm, lines, and dividers.
Lessons are provided in the form of videos that will walk you through a number of essential symbols, diagrams, charts, and worksheets while the instructor explains their meanings and shows you how they translate in music terms.
On the right sidebar, a “Resources” appears below each lesson link. By clicking on this button and then “Assignments” you will be redirected to another website from which you will be able to download exercises in the form of PDF files.
How to access assignments on Udemy course “Music Theory for Beginners”
This course is an ideal choice for those who know little to nothing about music theory and are looking for a free and quick way to get acquainted with this new subject.
TO SUM IT UP: A great and free music theory course offered by one of the leading online learning platforms. Lessons are delivered in video format, which is the preferred way of learning for many online students. You can also download free exercises to check your progress.
WHAT LEARNERS SAY ABOUT IT:
Statement of Participation
ADDITIONAL FREE TOOLS:
Progress Tracker, Downloadable Material (PDF, Word, ePUB)
This free online course is brought to you by The Open University, one of the largest public universities in the UK. The ‘OpenLearn’ section of its website offers free guides, tutorials, and resources in a number of fields, including music theory (and arts in general).
To unlock the course’s full potential, all you need to do is to create a free Open University account. This will allow you not only to gain access to the course’s material but also to receive a statement of participation once you have completed the course.
A screenshot of ‘An Introduction to Music Theory”, a free online course offered by The Open University
The course’s objectives are to teach you the basic elements of music theory and to reach a level of knowledge equivalent to the third grande of ABRSM, a UK-based music teaching board that offers exams in several countries.
It takes around 8 hours to complete the course but you can set your own schedule and take as much time as you need.
The course is divided into 10 different sections, at the end of each one you can test your knowledge by answering questions and doing exercises.
- Section 1 is the main introduction. It contains information on how to get the best out of the study material.
- Section 2 deals with the basics of music theory, including the staff, clefs, Middle C, and ledger lines, as well as lessons on how to write and read notes.
- Section 3 focuses on rhythm and meter. It contains several subsections in which you will learn about time values, triplets, dots, ties, and how to group and beam notes.
- Section 4 is about how to group rests.
- Section 5 is about pitch and it includes lessons about tones, semitones, and the most important scales.
- Section 6 includes lessons on accidentals, how to identify the degree of the scale and intervals
- Section 7 is about harmony and the triad.
- Section 8 focuses on performance directions.
- Section 9 contains several questions, activities, and exercises aimed at testing your level of understanding of the concepts explained in the previous sections.
- Section 10 is about interactive drills (trainers), how to find them and use them.
The entire course material can be downloaded on your computer (or other devices) in several formats, including PDF, Word, ePUB, and Kindle. This is very useful because it allows you to study for this course even when you are not online.
TO SUM IT UP: In our opinion, this course offers a solid foundation for music theory beginners. It’s organized in a very clear and structured manner and it contains several exercises at the end of each section, which is great to make sure you have understood the most important topics before moving on. Moreover, it is offered by an accredited university and it also offers a useful statement of completion to learners who have completed all lessons.
WHAT LEARNERS SAY ABOUT IT:
Some Final Thoughts
Like for many other subjects, the internet offers a huge amount of free content for those who want to learn music theory from scratch.
While enrolling in a paid course may be advisable for those who want to become experts in this field or need this knowledge for professional reasons, there’s a lot you can learn in this field without paying a single cent.
The courses we reviewed are some of the best free structured collections of lessons available online but a quick YouTube search can also be useful in finding a number of excellent videos or even channels that are dedicated to this topic. As long as you’re willing to learn and are passionate about this topic, free internet content can be extremely helpful.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have previous experience with the courses we reviewed or you know other courses that may be helpful for music theory learners or you have anything else that you’d like to share.
Check also our music category for other useful course reviews.