Class Details

  • Beginner
  • 5 Students
  • 10+
  • 45 mins.

What You’ll Learn

  • Basic techniques for reading music
  • Major and minor scales
  • How to use key signatures
  • Solfege and ear training
  • Diatonic major and minor chords
  • How to get the most out of rehearsals

Weekly Curriculum

Wednesday October 4th: Identifying Major and Minor Key Signatures: I explain how to properly identify what key a piece is in. It's important to know because this is a fundamental portion of music theory and a deeper understanding of music. This isn't really something you give examples of, you simply demonstrate. I suggest exercises on for follow up, supply a Google Doc, and demonstrate how to practice this on your own with staff paper.

Wednesday October 11th: Solfege: I explain Major and Chromatic (ascending and descending) Solfege syllables. It is incredibly important for sight singing, improvisation, and can help with composition/song writing. There is a good book that I suggest called "Music for Sight Singing" by Ottman. I suggest exercises on for follow up, supply a Google Doc, and demonstrate how to practice this on your own with staff paper and/or a piano.

Wednesday October 18th: Diatonic Major Triads and 7th Chords: I explain how to label and identify lead sheet symbol and roman numeral analysis for Diatonic Major Triads and 7th Chords. This is the foundation of harmonic analysis in music theory, and it is also important for those wishing to learn how to compose and have an understanding of the chords they are playing. This isn't really something you give examples of, you simply demonstrate. I suggest exercises on for follow up, supply a Google Doc, and demonstrate how to practice this on your own with staff paper.

Wednesday October 25th: Triad and 7th Chord inversions: I explain how to identify and label Triad and 7th Chord inversions. This is important so you can know what chord you're hearing and seeing when performing and or analyzing music. This isn't really something you give examples of, you simply demonstrate. I suggest exercises on for follow up, supply a Google Doc, and demonstrate how to practice this on your own with staff paper.


  • A reliable internet connection
  • A laptop or desktop computer if you’re joining from home - The Google Chrome web browser is recommended for computer users

  • A tablet or smartphone if you’re on-the-go - The TakeLessons app (for Android or iPhone) is required for smartphone users

  • A built-in or external webcam


Are you ready to become a more confident and well-rounded musician? This online music theory class is perfect for students of all backgrounds who desire to broaden their skill set and take their musicianship to the next level. You’ll learn the basics of how to read music and you’ll begin to understand why certain songs sound the way they do.

An expert instructor will teach you a few important, introductory music theory concepts such as key signatures, major and minor scales, solfege, as well as diatonic major and minor chords. Here are some more of the topics you’ll cover in this fun and interactive, group class. Join today to quickly expand your knowledge of music theory for beginners!

How to Read Music

Learning how to read music is like learning an entire new language. In this online music theory class, you’ll learn all about the staff, names of notes, rhythmic foundations, and key signatures. Each of these concepts will help you better understand the science behind what is going on musically when you play an instrument or sing.

Essentially, reading music involves learning the symbols used in written music and how to apply them to your playing. These symbols show you what pitch to play, how long to play it, how loud to play it, and sometimes even how to articulate the note (hard attack, short attack, etc.). Each of these can be easily learned with the right memorization techniques.

Although reading music isn’t a required skill to be able to create beautiful music, it certainly makes it a lot easier! In this class, an expert instructor will show you how to read ahead to comprehend more notes in less time. He’ll also share a few additional resources such as supplemental books and practice methods so you can improve even faster.

By the time this class is over, you’ll be playing and singing notes with more confidence than ever before. You’ll be able to have freestyle jam sessions with friends and even compose your own unique music. If your style is jazz improv, or if you want to be a singer-songwriter, this music theory class will help lay the foundation of skills that you need to succeed.

Major and Minor Scales

Major and minor scales make up the alphabet of music. A scale is simply an organized set of pitches used to build the harmony or melody of a piece of music. Scales have a fundamental pitch around which the other pitches are organized. No matter what instrument you decide to play, you’ll need to learn the fundamental significance of scales.

A C major scale, for example, is simply all the white notes on a piano, starting with C and ascending up to the C that is one octave above. Learning scales will make you more comfortable with your instrument and enable you to better understand the melodies that you’re playing.

If this is all new information to you, don’t fret! Your instructor will break down these complex topics into smaller pieces so they’re easier to comprehend. Using a special music notation software, your teacher can provide a visual and auditory representation of the concepts he’s teaching, so you’ll be able to follow along no matter your learning style.

Have a question during class? Don’t be afraid to raise your hand. There will be time for Q&A in each session if you need further guidance or clarification, and your teacher will also provide some notes for you to study afterward. Outside of class time, you’ll be able to work on your skills by writing out scales on staff paper - this makes for great practice!

How to Use Key Signatures

Key signatures are a way to easily designate a specific scale in a song by using a particular number of sharp and flat symbols at the beginning of a staff. This notation helps performers to identify what key a piece of music is in and it makes sight reading a lot easier.
In order to understand which key signature to use, you’ll have to know how many sharps and flats there are in different keys. Learning this key piece of information will be made easier in this class with the help of mnemonics and charts. Your instructor will also demonstrate how to practice writing key signatures on your own.

Solfege and Ear Training

If you’ve seen “The Sound of Music,” then you’re already a little familiar with solfege. Solfege is a framework for understanding pitch that will you help you recognize notes just by hearing them. Learning solfege will help you be able to play music by ear and improvise much easier.

Solfege, also known as “solfa,” uses syllable sounds like “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti” for each note of the musical scale to show relationships between pitches. This system can be used with any key or scale, and it will help you recognize the patterns in music such as intervals, or the distance between notes in a song.


To provide the greatest availability of start dates we have assigned multiple teachers to this class. All teachers will cover the same class material however their teaching styles may vary.
Carl S.
Dr. Carl S. is currently Instructor of Jazz and Saxophone at South Dakota State University, a position he has held since 2014. His responsibilities include directing the SDSU/Brookings Optimist Jazz Festival, directing Jazz Ensembles I-II, and teaching the saxophone studio. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in saxophone performance at the University of Kansas in 2014, and his Master of Music Pedagogy and Performance from Oklahoma State University in 2011. He graduated from Harrah High School in 2002, earned his Bachelor of Music Education from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2008, and was a 5th-12th grade Head Band Director at Fairview Public schools.
Richard W.
My goal is to help students ENJOY the piano by finding ways to make it easier and doable. I have a very useful approach in helping students become self sufficient to sight read very well, to see patterns, understand music theory to either help them play well, or to even create their own music(I compose a lot of great music as well)

I couldn't sight read very well until I was 16, but I had a great sight reading teacher that showed me how to develop it, and now I can say that I'm one of the best sight readers out there that I know. I was a ballet pianist at Brigham Young University for several years where all I did was sightread binders full of ballet/classical music. I play for choirs, church congregations, jazz bands, or musical jam sessions all the time, and I couldn't do that at all if I didn't learn how to sight read well. I would love to help you learn the piano, and I will do my best to make learning as effective as possible. I especially enjoy teaching those who quit and would like to try again, because I know what that is like.

Concerning my musical background, I've played, arranged, and composed piano for choirs, bands, jazz combos, singers. I've been in bands all my life, and have composed for jazz bands, choirs, and orchestras at BYU and in Eastern Europe. I also play about 10 different instruments, 5 being fairly basic, and 5 fairly proficient.


8 Reviews
Carl did a great job. Looking forward to learning more
Pete A.
Jan 3, 2016
Carl is a wonderful teacher. We covered a lot of ground in my first lesson, but at a pace that was comfortable for me. Looking forward to the next lesson!
Jun 28, 2016
Great teacher!
Jul 17, 2016
Great experience so far, really enjoying learning with Carl.
Lee B.
Jul 28, 2016
Excellent teacher.Has lots of patience. Explains in detail .i could learn the basics which never were thought at my school.
Neha V
Oct 23, 2016
Excellent teacher.
Lata V.
Oct 23, 2016
Great teacher! My daughter goes back to the group lessons every chance she gets.
Tina ..
Nov 3, 2016
Carl is an exceptional teacher! He makes effective use of the time, generates and shares a lot of resources, and explains everything clearly. He provides positive and constructive feedback that encourages / motivates to continue practicing. I would highly recommend to anyone.
Jennifer S.
Jan 18, 2017