Can You Pass This Basic Music Theory Quiz? Test Your Knowledge!

music theory quiz

A knowledge of music theory is absolutely indispensable to musicians. For beginners, it can seem intimidating, but experienced musicians will attest that theory is well worth the effort needed to master it.

While you can certainly acquire proficiency on an instrument without a knowledge of theory, you’ll miss out on the depth of understanding that it provides. Music theory is also extremely useful for musicians.

Think of music theory as your tool box. It enables you to analyze, transcribe, and replicate songs. It also equips you to communicate effectively with other musicians.

A sound knowledge of theory enables you to compose your own music with confidence and enjoy a whole world of possibilities!

Can you pass a music theory quiz for beginners? This quiz is an excellent way to test your knowledge of basic theory. Give it your best shot and if you get stuck, we’ll go over each answer in detail below.

Music Theory Quiz: Review

How did you score on our music theory test? Let us know in the comments section below! To check your work, here is a review of each question and answer.

1. The numbers at the beginning of a piece of music represent the: (C) Time signature.

The time signature indicates the meter of the music, with the upper number representing the number of beats per measure and the lower number indicating the value of each beat. For example, 4/4 tells you that you have four beats per measure, and the quarter note gets the beat.

2. The lines in the treble staff are, from bottom to top: (C) EGBDF.

Think, “Every Great Band Draws Fans” or “Every Good Boy Does Fine.” Don’t confuse this with the bass staff, which we asked about later in the quiz.

3. A 16th note will have the following: (B) Two flags.

These indicate that the beat has been subdivided twice. Sixteenth notes break a quarter note into four parts, for example. They are very common in music.

4. A dotted half note equals how many quarter notes?  (B) Three.

One dot after a note indicates that half of that note’s value is added to the duration. A half note is equal to two quarter notes, so the dot adds one quarter note. Now you just have to solve the simple math equation: 2+1=3.

5. The musical term used to describe differences in volume is: (C) Dynamics.

This is a very expressive element of music. In the most basic sense, pp = very quiet, p = quiet,  mp = moderately quiet, mf = moderately loud, f = loud, ff = very loud. The performer has a bit of creative license with interpretation.

6. The symbol used to denote the range of a particular staff is a: (C) Clef.

The clef at the beginning of a staff indicates the pitches and range of that piece of music. We use the treble clef, the bass clef, and the C clef. The rhythm clef is an exception, as it is used for non pitched percussion notation.

7. The small lines above or below a staff are called: (C) Ledger lines.

These indicate notes that extend beyond the range of the given staff. When reading the bass or treble staves, middle C will always be on a ledger line (one above the bass or one below the treble).

In the treble staff, any note A5 and above will be on ledger lines. In the bass staff, anything E2 and below will be on ledger lines. These are also used often in music.  

8. The spaces in the bass staff, from bottom to top are: (C) ACEG.

Think, “All Cars Eat Gas.” Notice that this question is specifically asking about the spaces, not the lines.

More Music Theory Tests

Want to take another music theory quiz to sharpen your skills? Here are a few excellent resources to check out.

Enjoy exploring music theory and the freedom of expression that it can afford you. Music theory translates to all instruments, so learning it will make you a more versatile and well-rounded musician!

If you want to take your knowledge of theory to the next level, you can easily find affordable and reputable music theory instructors for online or local lessons.

TracyDPost Author: Tracy D.
Tracy D. teaches music theory, guitar, piano and more in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She’s been teaching since 2010 and has her Bachelor’s in Music Education from Oklahoma Christian University. Learn more about Tracy here!

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3 Legit Places to Find Free Piano Lessons

Free Piano Lessons

If you’re looking for free piano lessons, look no further. In this article we share three resources that will help you take your first steps from beginner to Beethoven.

No one ever says, “I wish I hadn’t learned the piano.”

With a bit of skill and practice, the piano creates beautiful music. It’s no wonder why so many revere those who play it and are eager to learn it themselves.

Although learning the piano can be quite expensive, there are several affordable and even free options available. We’ve done all the research for you below!

Where to Find Free Piano Lessons

1. TakeLessons Live

free online piano lessons

When it comes to learning a new instrument, most will agree that having a teacher is the best way to go. This can be challenging if you live in a rural area, or if you’re on a budget. TakeLessons Live is an excellent solution with free online piano lessons.

With TakeLessons Live you get a real, live teacher who can show you proper technique, correct your mistakes, and answer any questions you have “in real time.” You’re able to take classes from the comfort of your home, or while on-the-go with your laptop or mobile device. 

You can take as many classes as you want, at no cost. A few examples of class topics include how to read music, playing piano chords, and scales for beginners. These classes allow you to get a solid foundation on the piano that you can continue to build upon as you progress in your studies.

2. YouTube


One quick search on YouTube returns hundreds of results for piano lessons. They include everything from song tutorials to guides on hand positioning to music theory.

These free online piano lessons are a good tool for beginners since you can watch them as many times as you’d like to really master the concepts.

Here are just a few of the top piano channels that you can subscribe to on YouTube:

  • Piano TV – Allysia has hundreds of videos ranging from piano exercises to analyses of classical and pop favorites. She takes a deep dive into the music to help you become a more well-rounded pianist.  
  • Hoffman Piano Academy – Joseph Hoffman helps you make the transition from beginner to intermediate pianist with a series of curated playlists on the different skills you’ll need.
  • Pianist Magazine – Pianist Magazine features instructional videos from well known teacher-pianists. While most of the songs are classical, the concepts taught can be applied to all types of music.
  • Bill Hilton – Bill Hilton has around 200 tutorials covering everything from basic music theory to improv and various piano styles.
  • Piano Couture – Piano Couture is full of the music you know and love. Learning to play songs you’re already familiar with makes these lessons fun and easy.

These are just a few of our favorite piano channels on YouTube. With hundreds of piano channels to choose from, you’re sure to find one that is a good fit for your learning style!

Remember that as a beginner, it’s important to ensure that you’re learning the proper techniques so you don’t form bad habits later on.

One downside of YouTube lessons is that you can’t get immediate feedback on your playing. This makes YouTube a great supplement to online or in-person lessons, but it is not recommended as a substitute.

3. Local Music Stores, Studios, & More

free piano lessons

Although it can be more difficult to find, another option for free piano lessons is local music stores. Some music stores like Guitar Center or Steinert & Sons offer free group lessons and workshops for children and adults.

If there isn’t a music store in your area, see if a local studio offers free introductory lessons. You can also check with your city’s recreation department and local community centers. Some offer free piano classes as a service to the community.

One benefit of these free piano lessons is the ability to ask a teacher questions in person, and have them physically show you what to do. A quick search will tell you if these options are available in your area.

Now that you know where to find free piano lessons, we encourage you to get started today and commit to growing your musical abilities. The benefits of learning the piano go far beyond being able to simply play a piece of music. You’ll also get to take advantage of health benefits such as reducing stress, strengthening your hand muscles, and stimulating the brain!

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50+ Best Acapella Songs for Girls, Guys, Groups & More

acapella songs

Every singer should have a few traditional and contemporary acapella songs under their belt. Many times, singers are required to sing acapella at auditions – without an accompanist or background track.

Music directors often ask singers to sing acapella in order to hear and test their musicality and stamina. (Acapella singing requires that these skills be sharp!) It also shows that you’re able to be a leader, and that you’re comfortable having the spotlight on you as a solo singer.

If you have an audition coming up, or are simply looking to find more music for your group or choir, check out this list of the best acapella songs broken up into categories for different genders and genres.

50+ Best Acapella Songs for Any Singer

You can sing just about any genre in the acapella style, including pop, jazz, R&B, country and Broadway. Many artists such as New York Voices, Pentatonix, and the Mormon Tabernacle choir have turned both traditional and contemporary songs into their own unique vocal arrangements.

They create all the melodies, rhythms, and harmonies with their voices alone! By diving into separated voice parts, each person plays an important role in their acapella ensemble. For instance, a male voice may take all the bass lines, while a soprano takes the melody, and another voice handles the beatboxing.

Check out this list to get started!

Best Acapella Songs for Female Singers (Solo or Group)

  1. “I knew you were trouble” Taylor Swift


This incredible rendition of Taylor Swift’s song comes from an all-female acapella group – the BYU Noteworthy. The harmonies are crystal clear and the arrangements, quite entertaining!

  1. “I can’t make you love me” Bonnie Raitt
  2. “Tale as old as time” Beauty and the Beast
  3. “I turn to you” Christina Aguilera
  4. “Dreaming of you” Selena
  5. “Don’t wanna lose you” Gloria Estefan
  6. “Try” Colbie Caillat
  7. “Natural woman” Aretha Franklin
  8. “Love song” Sara Bareilles
  9. “Fallin’” Alicia Keys

Best Acapella Songs for Male Singers (Solo or Group)

  1. “Bridge over troubled water” Simon & Garfunkel


This is a spectacular group performance by Ithacappella. Pay attention to what it sounds like when you take away the instruments and just hear raw voices.

  1. “Can’t buy me love” The Beatles
  2. “Leaving on a jet plane” Peter, Paul and Mary
  3. “Hakuna matata” The Lion King
  4. “Mmm bop” Hanson
  5. “Beat it” Michael Jackson
  6. “Candle in the wind” Elton John
  7. “When you’re gone” Matchbox 20
  8. “Who let the dogs out” The Baha Men
  9. “I want it that way” Backstreet Boys

RELATED: The Top Tip for How to Sing Acapella

Best Acapella Songs for Large Groups of Men & Women

  1. “A whole new world” Aladdin


Check out this mixed group singing acapella. Notice their volume and how they really listen to each other to create a flawless performance!

  1. “Where have all the flowers gone” Peter, Paul, and Mary
  2. “I say a little prayer” Aretha Franklin
  3. “Country roads” John Denver
  4. “Yesterday” The Beatles
  5. “Human nature” Michael Jackson
  6. “True colors” Cyndi Lauper
  7. “Give me one reason” Tracy Chapman
  8. “God must have spent a little more time on you” N’SYNC
  9. “September” Earth, Wind and Fire

Best Contemporary Acapella Songs (Solo or Group)

31.“Single ladies” Beyonce


The strong melody and added rhythmic components in this live student performance are very impressive!

  1. “If I was your man” Bruno Mars
  2. “Home” Michael Buble
  3. “You belong to me” Taylor Swift
  4. “Hello” Adele
  5. “A million reasons” Lady Gaga
  6. “God bless the broken road” Rascal Flatts
  7. “She will be loved” Maroon 5
  8. “Stickwitu” Pussycat Dolls
  9. “Hero” Mariah Carey

Best Traditional Acapella Songs (Solo or Group)

  1. “Sir Duke” Stevie Wonder


Check out this all-male group and their fun performance energy!

  1. “My way” Frank Sinatra
  2. “Nature boy” Nat King Cole
  3. “Let there be peace on earth” Harry Connick Jr.
  4. “Somewhere over the rainbow” Eva Cassidy
  5. “I will always love you” Dolly Parton
  6. “You’ve got a friend” Carole King
  7. “Fire and rain” James Taylor
  8. “Amazing grace” Celtic Women
  9. “Moon river” Barbra Streisand
  10. “Wade in the water” Fisk Jubilee Singers

Singing acapella is quite engaging, because you have the flexibility to improvise with the melody, rhythm, and interpretation. The biggest challenge however, is keeping your intonation and pitch in sync.

If you’re looking to strengthen your skills as an acapella singer, it’s best to get some instruction from a trained vocal coach, such as those at TakeLessons. An acapella singing teacher can help you learn new material and gain confidence for an upcoming audition or performance.

LizT
Post Author: Liz T.
Liz T. teaches singing and acting lessons online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal Performance and she currently performs all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

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halloween-playlist-preview

10 Essential Songs You Need on Your Halloween Playlist

halloween-playlist

Whether you’re turning your house into a creepy haunted mansion, heading to a rockin’ Halloween party, or getting the kids dressed up for trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, these Halloween party songs are the best way to get into the spirit.

No playlist fit for consumption by ghouls and goblins is complete without these 10 essentials.

Turn it up, and have a happy and safe Halloween!

1. Thriller

Who doesn’t love the “Thriller” dance?

2. Candy

Because it’s not Halloween without plenty of candy.

3. I Put a Spell on You

For extra bonus Halloween points, check out Bette Midler’s version of this classic tune from the movie Hocus Pocus.

4. This is Halloween

Another great Halloween movie, Nightmare Before Christmas, is full of great songs by Danny Elfman, perfect for this scary season!

5. Dead Man’s Party

Speaking of Danny Elfman, throw a “Dead Man’s Party” with this 80’s favorite.

6. Time Warp

Rocky Horror is always appropriate.

7. Somebody’s Watching Me

This tune is perfect for a Halloween dance-off!

8. Ghost Riders in the Sky

Johnny Cash brings the spooky vibes in this golden oldie.

9. Psycho Killer

Run, run, run!

10. Monster Mash

Because it’s not Halloween until you’re doing the mash!

What’s your favorite Halloween party song? Tell us all about it in the comments below!


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Bass vs Guitar: The Differences, Difficulty, and How to Decide

bass vs guitar

For aspiring musicians trying to decide between bass vs guitar, there are many factors to consider. What style of music do you want to play? What do you find most enthralling about that style? And, where do you see yourself fitting into that style?

These are all key questions to answer when considering which instrument to learn. Here, we’ll uncover the pros and cons of playing each instrument.

One important thing to realize is that whichever instrument you start with, you’ll learn concepts that apply to other instruments as well. This is all part of your musical journey and will help you become a multi-faceted musician.

To help you find the better fit for you, let’s start by breaking down the differences between the bass player and the guitar player.

Already made up your mind? Cast your vote on the best instrument to learn below!

Which instrument do you prefer: bass or guitar?

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Bass vs Guitar: How to Decide

Bass Guitar

The bass guitar is the foundation for all music. Without bass, there is nothing to weigh the music down and bring it all together. Oftentimes, the bass player is the most essential element in creating a successful band. They determine the “feel” of the music by laying down a pattern of notes according to their rhythmic pattern with the drums.

Bass players are often understated individuals who appreciate the improvisational nature of their instrument. While other instruments have to stick with their respective written parts, the bass player has a greater ability to play what they feel is right (especially in blues and jazz progressions).

For this reason, the bass player usually learns to be fluent with scales and chordal patterns so they can lay down an awesome bass line! When considering bass, you must ask yourself: is this the role I want to play?

Are you the “understated foundation” of the band? If you feel like this is the right place for you, then the next thing you should do is consider the style of music you want to play.

A Note About 4, 5, or 6 String Basses

guitar vs bass

A bass player has a unique choice in the number of strings they want on their bass guitar. You can purchase basses with 4, 5, or even 6 strings. For the most part, the only real difference between basses with more strings is the availability of higher or lower notes on the instrument.

Most 4-string basses are tuned like a guitar, that is: E-A-D-G. With 5 or 6 string basses you can choose to add lower notes, like B-E-A-D-G, or higher notes. While a 5 or 6 string bass can seem enticing, a majority of the time all you will need is 4 strings.

Pros of Bass:

  • Bass is arguably the most important instrument in a band. A song without bass just isn’t right.
  • Bass allows you to improvise and be active in the creation of a song.
  • You can choose between a wide variety of bass guitars including 4, 5, or 6 string basses.
  • Tabs for bass guitar are readily available.

Cons of Bass:

  • Since the strings on a bass are bigger to provide the right tone, bass players have to work to get really strong fingers.
  • The neck of a bass is also very long, so starting out on a full-size bass might be difficult for musicians with smaller frames.

Guitar

guitar vs bass

The guitar is a very flexible instrument. A talented guitarist can fulfill several roles including rhythm section, lead guitar, or a mix of both! But generally, if you like to be the center of attention, the guitar is a good fit for you.

Guitarists play a defining role in the style of a band. If you listen to artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Kirk Hammett (from Metallica), and then compare them to Tommy Emmanuel, you’ll see just how much flexibility there is with this instrument.

Guitar players are often at the forefront of the band. While the bass provides the foundation of the music, the guitar player builds upon it. By building chord progressions from bass licks and matching them with a drum beat, the guitarist can create some awesome songs!

Pros of Guitar:

  • While bass does have more freedom within a song, if there is a solo it usually goes to the lead guitar player.
  • The strings on a guitar are smaller than on a bass, so there is less finger strength required to learn the guitar
  • There are numerous styles of guitar. You can play like Tommy Emmanuel or Kirk Hammett – the possibilities are endless!
  • Tabs for music are readily available.

Cons of Guitar:

  • The guitar is just as much a rhythmic instrument as a lead instrument, so it requires you to learn more chord shapes than bass.
  • There is never a shortage of guitar players, so getting a gig can be difficult.

Musical Styles for Bass vs Guitar

guitar vs bass

What style of music do you hope to learn to play? What do you listen to in the car? Do you listen to rock, country, blues, jazz, or classical?

Both the guitar and bass have unique responsibilities within each genre of music. Neither guitar nor bass is any better than the other for a certain style of music; they simply perform different tasks.

For example, blues music offers improvisational freedom for both the bass and guitar. The bass player gets to make unique bass lines and the guitarist gets to play solos.

Where Do You Fit In?

If you’re still trying to decide between bass vs guitar, try taking a few introductory lessons. There are many guitar and bass teachers online and locally. Taking beginner level classes or lessons will give you a taste of each instrument so you can make a more informed decision.

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