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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Getting Started With Music Theory by Michigan State University

559 ratings
194 reviews

About the Course

This course is a brief introduction to the elements of music theory for those with little or no music theory experience. We will explore pitch, rhythm, meter, notation, scales, keys, key signatures, meter signatures, triads, seventh chords, and basic harmony. If you listen to music or play music by ear, and you want to know more about how music is organized and notated, this course is for you. By the end of the course, you should know all major and minor keys, how to read and write in treble and bass clef using standard meters and rhythmic values, and how to notate and harmonize a simple melody. This course can serve as a stand-alone basic music theory course, or it can be a springboard to more advanced theory and composition courses. Your instructor is Bruce Taggart, Associate Professor of Music Theory at Michigan State University, in the College of Music, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate music theory since 1996....

Top reviews


Aug 21, 2020

Course was quite tough , eventually I had given up on this course, but consistency made me learn and I went through rigorous learning in finding the chords and middle C notes. Yes I made it in the end


Jul 23, 2020

Fantastic lectures and very easy-to-understand, hard to master lessons. This course will leave you with a much deeper understanding of music if you are a beginner to music theory like I am.

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1 - 25 of 194 Reviews for Getting Started With Music Theory

By Michael C

Dec 31, 2017

Not an effective program at all. While concepts are introduced, the many examples necessary to demonstrate the differences and distinctions of within the concepts taught is lacking. Reference links to are nice, but equally superficial. Time signature pedagogy is, bluntly, awful. It is one thing to state a signature and explain them at the most superficial level, and then a terrible failing when there is no robust discussion of how to read those signatures within the note pattern (as opposed to from the explicit signature.) This is not a course appropriate for one without meaningful (e.g., not beginner) training. Money wasted is one thing, having one's time wasted is clearly another as time is the one commodity we cannot replace and never have enough of.

There are some errors in the exam questions too. Awkward word choice leads to ambiguity and occasionally, simply, none of the answers are correct (nor do they score correctly). Lastly, wrong exercise/test answers should be marked with what the correct choice was and WHY, given the example or question, it is the correct answer. Indeed, more work for the instructor, but that is why we are hear, non?

By Mark W

Apr 25, 2018

Stating that this course is for beginners is simply misleading. The discussion question for the second week is "What is your favorite interval?". First of all, as a beginner, I just learned what an interval was (and even that information is presented as if you have knowledge that a beginner simply wouldn't), and without being able to recognize notes by ear (which a beginner certainly couldn't do, or at least this one can't) how would I have any idea how to answer this question?

While some of this content is presented in a very basic manner that a beginner can grasp and use to build upon, by the time I got into intervals in the second week, I was simply lost, even after going through the entire first part of the second week again.

Perhaps I'm simply not musically-minded enough for this course, but this level of content and method of instruction seems well beyond what a beginner course should offer. And unfortunately, it's past my 14-day refund period with Coursera, so I'm out the certificate fee.

By Michael E A

Feb 21, 2018

The positive: the class is well organized and the software works pretty well - with the exception of a few glitches.

The negative: The class really ought to be called "Music for Deaf People." I understand that this is a music theory class, but the theory is pretty useless unless it has some application. And the class gives no sense whatsoever of how these ideas and theories can be applied to the the actual experience of creating or listening to music. Yes, with a little figuring and consulting my notes I can figure out the diminished seventh of a B minor chord. But how does that actually translate into making music? I have no idea.

I was also frustrated by the fact that my questions were never answered by the supposed moderators on the discussion forums. When I had questions, I was SOL as far as the class was concerned.

So, I wouldn't recommend this class.

By Keith E

Jul 16, 2017

Not useful for musical beginners. The videos state on multiple occasions "it should be obvious why this has to be the way it is" while playing musical selections without any explanation or elaboration. If you don't already understand music theory this class will be opaque and unhelpful.

By Yanisa L

May 16, 2020

Saying this course is for beginner is a bit misleading. Who enrolled this course should be able to read music sheet and know some basic about music theory. And the professor sometimes doesn't explain anything, he just give us some exercise that very hard for those who have no basic. Most of the time during this course, I have to use search engine to be able to understand the lectures. And I don't know how these theories can be applied to the actual experience of making or listening music.

By Steven H

May 26, 2020

The teacher clearly knows a LOT about music theory. The problem is that he seems to think I do too. I don't mind pausing videos and typing a lot of notes for myself - and for this course I found my notes invaluable - but I wish he explained some more of the basics of music theory at the beginning of the course. I'm annoyed that he introduces concepts but doesn't break them down or explain them adequately. I am more annoyed that quizzes have questions about things he didn't teach us. For all the irrelevant things I learned, I would like to have at least learned what I needed to know to take the quizzes without having to look for information outside the course material. (Perhaps this is true of all courses on Coursera - this is my first - but I am frustrated that the graded quizzes don't tell you the correct answers for any questions you got wrong, but they also don't save your answers for subsequent attempts. Especially when you have to type your answers... again, had to rely on outside help in order to figure out my mistakes.)

Each short video focuses on a particular subject, and the organization of the course seems reasonable. Maybe I just need longer videos that go a bit more in-depth.

By Kathy Q

Feb 28, 2020

The instructor for this course is clearly an expert, and I enjoy the lectures. However, the course description says it is beginner level, but it is actually a pretty challenging course that, I think, assumes you have some background knowledge. If you have ever played piano and have some knowledge of the keyboard, and if you have a keyboard at home you can use to help you practice, that would helpful. There is a lot you need to memorize, so the 2-3 hours a week may not be enough. Also, you won't be able to do all the quiz questions on the phone app because the sound files don't work. I asked about this and was told this is a bug they are working on. I just have to use a laptop or desktop to do the course. I had hoped to be able to do some of it, at least, while commuting. Looking at the comments in the course, it appears that they have been working on this bug for some time, but no resolution. I wish I had taken the course as a survey, not the $$ version.

By Vida H

Feb 21, 2019

I have really enjoyed doing this course. I now understand minor keys and seventh chords and thanks to the course team

By Suzi H

Aug 21, 2019

I would have given this a 5 star rating if I was able to use the course quizzes. The quizzes do not work and asking for help or reporting this is a problem. It's time consuming and the problem still is not fixed.

I have spent the time I had for studying trying to take the quizzes that would not work. Despite having a tech try and help me the quizzes still do not function. really a bummer. Makes me not want to purchase classes.

By Varghese C

Feb 15, 2020

This course took me through the fundamentals of music and taught me the basics, from Tonic and DIatonic to understanding Rhythms and measures, to the concept of Major and Minor scales including Harmonic and Melodic minors, Syncopation, Triads, and 7th chords. I have now received a thorough grounding that I can use to build on. I would recommend this course for anyone who has some idea but not the fundamentals that form the basis of music structures.

By Gautam K A

Jun 30, 2017

This was my first music theory lesson. To be honest,I have learnt something which could not have been possible for many years if left alone. The lessons were built systematically to make students understand every bit of it and the quiz sections were amazing. Though, I couldn't make 100% but I hope I will definitely do it soon. Because Learning never stops. Thank you so much for providing me with financial Aid as well.

By LeAttol ( E L

Sep 29, 2017

I am very pleased with which the professor speaks. I am also happy in which the way that this course is developed for budding musicians. hat is to say those who cannot maybe even read sheet music. Though keep in mind I have downloaded free PDF's and such online so that I might better be able to understand the course. Sometimes a professor is just right; I like his personality.

By Henrique O

May 14, 2019

This is a very useful course.

The choosen subjects are very interesting and the exam questions enable to consolidate the knowledge.

The course provides a broad perspective and a systematic approach to music theory. It is a sound foundation to start playing music with an instrument.

By Ernie B

Apr 05, 2018

I really enjoyed the course, it did expand my knowledge on music. However, I did feel the last lectures to be more challenging. Maybe for a total beginner might not be the best course, but for someone with previous knowledge that wants to expand their music knowledge.

By Rafael V

Jul 10, 2017

Very happy with this course, I've taken theory before and I know that a lot of the things mentioned here finally make sense, unlike in my other courses were I never really fully understood the concepts, just simply that they exist haha.

By Dell L

Nov 01, 2019

A very nice introduction to music theory. I think the course could be a little longer, as the study on chords is a bit rushed. However it has given me a great foundation for further study on chords and chord progressions for guitar.

By Wankhade A V

Aug 21, 2020

Course was quite tough , eventually I had given up on this course, but consistency made me learn and I went through rigorous learning in finding the chords and middle C notes. Yes I made it in the end

By Ricardo B

Jun 26, 2017

I'm a software developer who can't play any instrument, and I enjoyed this course a lot. There are really no pre-requisites, any beginner can take this course, even if they can't tell apart do from re.

By Connor M

Jul 23, 2020

Fantastic lectures and very easy-to-understand, hard to master lessons. This course will leave you with a much deeper understanding of music if you are a beginner to music theory like I am.

By Danila G

Oct 24, 2018

The course gives much practice and many useful hints to help students easily identify notes, chords and their inversions in sheet music. A very good help to any course in music theory!

By Dheeraj P

May 07, 2017

A great course to understand Music in a technical way. Has not just helped me understand the concepts but also has inspired me to learn an instrument and apply the concepts.

By Nikki O

Apr 19, 2020

This course was a great way to get into music theory. It does help if you have some background knowledge first but a little more study and you'll be just fine anyway.

By Fred D

Jan 19, 2019

Clear concise modules, excellent instructor. Wish there were a sequel. Recommend highly.

By Nikita K

Feb 22, 2020

May be little bit frustrating for absolute beginners.

By Marc S

Jul 20, 2017

Overall an excellent course with a lot of foundational theory. A lot of it can get complicated and tedious, especially towards the end. It also requires a fair amount of memorization. These are all necessary steps and there's no faking your way through it. I enjoyed it a lot and am looking forward to that first a-ha moment that ties the teachings into a real-world use case!

A few pieces of feedback: (a) the videos themselves could be a little better. eg. when discussing things with a keyboard on screen, the keys should light up in sync with the instructor's lecture. Similarly, when spelling the chords out, notes could be highlighted or added to the staff as the lecture progresses, rather than after the entire chord has been broken down. (b) the test questions in the middle of lectures will sometimes ask you about something that was on screen for a split second before cutting over to the question. It would be great to add an image to the question for reference (similar to the ones in the quizzes), otherwise it's very hard to answer the questions.

All in all, small gripes, and I would still highly recommend this course to anyone interested in getting their heads wrapped around the basics of music theory.