What are Keys: Learning about Scales

What are Scales and How Can They Help Us Learn About Keys? Have you ever had conversation with someone about their bygone days of learning a musical instrument? Often the conversation begins with them remarking, “You’re taking music lessons? Nice. Yeah, I took some piano lessons when I was younger. I really liked it, but I wasn’t really any good. Think I learned Fur Elise and some Mozart and, you know, did scales and stuff…” It seems we’ve all heard of–or practiced–scales at some point. In terms of learning our instruments, practicing scales serves as an accessible method for improving … Read more

What are Keys and Why Should We Know About Them?

In the Key of… “In the key of…” — we rarely get far into our musical endeavors before we find ourselves faced with this phrase. Minuets in the key of G, Sonatas in the key of A, Nocturnes in the key of E minor, Fugues in the key of F#, and so on. But what does it really mean to be “in the key” of something? As beginners, we learn that it in some way refers to the number of sharps or flats (accidentals) we encounter at the beginning of a piece. We learn that this key signature indicates which notes … Read more

Understanding Time Signatures and Meters: A Musical Guide

At the beginning of practically any score of music you have ever looked at and will ever look at, there are numbers and symbols which clarify how to interpret the music notation on the score in front of you. As a music learner, you’ve become familiar with these symbols and you know that the numbers tell you how to interpret the music’s rhythms, to count and keep track of the music in time, and that if you’re playing with other performers—the numbers help you stay together! Yet, there are so many numbers and so many ways for these numbers to … Read more

7th Chords, Their Arpeggios, and Why We Use Them

Chords are something we deal with everyday in music. Written down on a page, they can be as simple as just ‘A,’ or a completely terrifying ‘Amaj7#11b9’! By discussing the 7th chord, we start our journey into understanding the nature of extended chords, what they imply, and why they are not as terrifying as we may have thought. Delving further into chords gives us a much broader understanding of harmony in not just jazz, but all areas of music. So, whether you are playing classical, rock, jazz or even musical theatre, you will be able to apply this knowledge of … Read more

Three Step Guide to Master Italian Words in Music Theory

When faced with all the Italian words to learn for the graded music theory curriculum, one may find it overwhelming and disconnected, making it difficult to learn by rote. For this reason, I put together a brief guide to learning most of the Italian theory words in an easier, more logical way. First of all, let us take a look at a collated, alphabetical list of all ABRSM Grades I-V Italian musical terms by clicking on this link The list is close to one-hundred-and-fifty words, and is made of a list of verbs, adverbs, single or double words, and so on; … Read more

The Circle of Fifths: The Clock of Key Signatures

Since the 17th century, the Circle of Fifths has been a prominent tool utilized by professional musicians and composers throughout Western Culture. Knowledge provided by the Circle of Fifths is practical for many situations and will become automatic with consistent practice. Musicians such as Bach (Baroque), Beethoven (Classical), Schubert (Romantic), Jerome Kern (Jazz), John Williams (Film), Selena Quintanilla (Teejano), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway), Beyonce (Pop), and Armin Van Buuren (EDM), are just a few whose music is built around the Circle.  The Circle of Fifths offers fundamental knowledge which can be applied to any genre or style of music. In this … Read more

Guide to Drum Kit Notation – Folk Music

Those of us who read Western Classical music notation are often guilty of assuming that it is the holy grail to musical literacy and competence, and that such notation can be universally applied to all musical styles. While Western notation is undoubtedly an incredibly versatile and adaptable form of communication, this assumption can be dangerous when trying to learn many styles of folkloric music, each with their own unique vocabulary, history, and notation. This article will explore the ways in which these styles of music are passed on, in some cases through notation and in others through aural tradition. We … Read more

Why & How Should I Learn to Read Drum Kit Notation

Music is a language, and like any language, it can be communicated in many different forms. As children we learned our mother tongue aurally, by listening to our parents and trying to replicate the sounds we heard. A parallel can be drawn between learning a language this way and learning music aurally. We can listen to music and try our best (with the guidance of a teacher) to play back what we hear. As children grow, we reach a certain age where it’s important to become literate in our mother tongue: to read and write. This happens when we go … Read more

The Importance of Music Theory

If you’re starting to pick up a musical instrument, you may have been advised to learn music theory, the study of the grammar of music. Music theory examines the elements that construct a piece of music, including notation, key signatures, time signatures, and chord progressions. Many teachers will insist that music theory is a fundamental tenet of a balanced music education and may even include theory as part of their lessons. On the other hand, some believe that learning music theory does not make one a better player and hence find it unnecessary. In this article, we share the importance … Read more

Must Know Music Terms For Parents

Many parents want to keep track of their child’s learning progress. However, for parents who are non-musicians, listening to teachers or their children talk about music can be confusing and even frustrating at times. In order to better understand your child’s music endeavours, it is inevitable that you, as a parent, have to learn a bit about music as well. To help you with this, we’ve come up with a glossary of common music terms with simplified definitions. Whether you’re a parent, or just someone who’s keen on learning music, this article will guide you through some basic music terminology. … Read more