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

735 ratings

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


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ONE OF THE BEST TEACHERS I HAVE EVER WITNESSED IS PROF. BRUCE TAGGART... I pay a heartily gratitude to him for offering me such an Amazing Course...


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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.

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51 - 75 of 270 Reviews for Getting Started With Music Theory

By Juan G J

Apr 2, 2023



Aug 15, 2023



Jan 23, 2021


By Patrick A C

Apr 28, 2024

The Good: Quite simply, it's the first music theory course I've tried (and I've tried maybe half a dozen over some 20 years) that I could actually grasp. Please understand that I've always been a good student; I graduated in the top 10% of my undergraduate class and went to one of the best schools in my field (another Big Ten, incidentally), and I taught statistics and research methods at another highly reputable program, *but*... my side passion of music has always been stymied by the difficulty of learning theory. I finally feel like I have a grasp on the basics because of this course, and that's big. The Not-As-Good: It was still more difficult than anticipated, and took me more time (almost three months) than anticipated. Granted, my life has been especially busy at work and home, but even accounting for that, this course was still a struggle to find time. I really think it should be at least an 8-week course. The few examples were great, but it could use more. Heck, maybe fill it into a 12-week course. It feels a little undercooked; more "here's why" and connecting dots would be great. Even still, I'm very glad I did this. A few changes like those above could make this even better. But hey, I came to learn a few things, and I did.

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.

By Rick P

May 17, 2020

Although its called ''Getting Started With Music Theory'', this course is already quite comprehensive and advanced. It covers a lot of material in a relatively short period of time. I've been playing instruments for many years and have had music theory in the past, despite this I found this course to be quite complicated at times. If someone has no previous knowledge of music, this course might be too difficult to start with (especially when non-native English). Some tests I''ve had to redo multiple times and when I got some answers wrong I didn't understand why. It also didn't give any explanation to these anwsers. The in lecture questions often come up too quickly blocking the screen you need to see to know the anwser. This is also something that can be fixed. Overall I feel like I understand more than I did before, however I still don't fully comprehend the material and will have to watch all lectures again.

By Jordan H

Jul 6, 2017

This was a great course with a great instructor! Only reason I did not give it all four stars was simply because a lot of questions that really needed a visual to answer were not provided with said visual. There were a couple of questions in the quizzes that would not accept the correct answer (after I would specifically study those specific parts if I did not get them right the first time). The only other thing keeping me from giving it a full five would be the fact that the practice questions inside of the videos would not give you nearly enough time to look at whatever musical example you had to answer questions on. Would've been great if you could see them while you answer questions.

By Richard R

Feb 19, 2019

Great course for anyone trying to enter the world of music theory and even better for someone with a little bit of a background on music. There are some problems with the in-lesson questions where you have to pause a number of times to actually view the thing that is being asked and then proceed to the question.

Also you will need a lot of complementary material to get most of this course but in general this was great, totally recommended.

By Matthew T

Nov 13, 2017

Really informative course, great little introduction to music theory - only complaint I would have is that on some of the lectures, the question flashes up really quickly and without any link to a picture in the question, meaning you have to keep clicking back to earlier in the lecture to see what you are actually answering the question on!

By Michael A W

Mar 18, 2024

I appreciated the bulk of the course however there were several technical issues with the quizzes and tests that often made things very difficult. It’s entirely possible that my final score would have been better if the difficulties weren’t there.

By Dmitry Y

Oct 29, 2022

There are no good russian subtitles. They were be translated by google translate. And probably not just the russian subtitles.

By Mike V

Jan 1, 2021

Sometimes tests seemed to require information I didn't pick up in classes. Might be me though.

By David L

Dec 22, 2020

May be a little difficult for early beginners, but with practice all can be understood

By Outa J

Jun 5, 2022

A very good course for beginners who want to learn music theory

By Johannes J E

Jan 24, 2024

I unenrolled, because the quizzes' design is a little confusing (You have to enter answers manually and in a specific format and it's hard to know if my answer was incorrect or whether it was just the format). Also the subject matter throws you a little bit into the deep end. You need to have a very decent grasp of music theory before getting into this. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners to be honest.

By Hansel B

Nov 17, 2022

I'm a total beginner when it comes to music theory and reading. I expected to get started using this class, the first two weeks were alright, but then 3 and 4 come and I am now completely lost. The topics are explained way too fast for a beginner, and I do not know why I'm learning all these things. The number of musical examples decrease with time, so I do not hear most of the things I see on screen. I cannot read music yet, and 3 and 4 weeks are basically implying that you can already read the notes pretty fast. In further readings, all you get is "check Wikipedia or". Since I could not understand many things, I'll have to use these sources anyway, rendering my time doing this class wasted. I could also not answer the in-class quizzes as they popped on the screen after week 2 because, most of the time, the answer panel was covering the staff that you had to answer a question about. I don't know if this class is coupled with another at their university, but for a random student who just wants to learn things for fun or develop their musical skills, I do not recommend.

By Laurel J

Dec 14, 2019

I am giving it 2 stars for several reasons. The main reason was the in video questions usually were asked about a pic seen very briefly before the question was asked. Half of these did not have a link to the pic. in question. Making you have to guess. Another reason is the teacher was pouring out tons of info but in such a fast pace and not in a language a beginner understands. Half the course I felt lost. Last, I am marked ad partial completion only because I am auditing the course, I watched everything, read everything, answered the discussion questions and everything else I needed to do. I did not take the tests because they were locked for paid participants, but I should show a completed for an audit like other courses do.

By Krishna G

Aug 29, 2021

While I did learn in this class, the presentation of the material was ineffective. It was merely audio with black, white, and green images -- in other words, an unengaging voice-over-only interaction with the professor (who talks too quietly with little variation or intonation of voice.) The assessment process was also troubling... specifically, the lack of diversity in the test questions and the fact that the professor requires not a usual 70% to pass, but much-higher 80% minimum, which is not always possible to achieve for such complex and challenging subject matter. This all makes for a pretty demanding course which proclaims to be "beginner" level.

By Kristin H

Aug 31, 2023

Formative questions

were so much easier than the ridiculous

edge-case questions

on the quizzes. Why quiz on something

he mentions

once in passing? Why discount

counting half-steps as shown clearly on music theory

.net in favor of memorising

structures you don’t

really understand? Falsely advertised

as no experience

necessary. Instructor skips through

several steps in logic

so quickly



forced to rewatch the videos


times and read the transcripts, then look at outside

sources to understand

what the

hell he means. It took me so so many more hours to complete

this corse than advertised. Don’t


By Peter M

Dec 28, 2020

Not very helpful. Would be good to have handouts on the course material.

By Yelamanchili S

Jun 15, 2020

i feel the basic are not really thought but they are expected to be implied in the exams. really tried to make up with the lesson and tests but the basics still being thought to a beginner are incomplete. i found so many other sources who are teaching just out of passion and no experience in a much clear and easy way that i had to go and listen to their classes and then come back to attempting few questions here. i don't think how these MOOC classes are supposed to work. no offence but maybe there are a lot of people finding this class perfect but for a beginner like me its still difficult.

By Deleted A

Jun 16, 2020

This course is not "getting started" it's more "Halfway to the top and then some".

If I had actual musical experience, then I would be much happier to learn. I do not and am finding this course so difficult. My ears are not trained to hear specific notes and the first week doesn't give you enough to train them. I don't understand the staves and how a f,a,c,e can all of a sudden be an e3. What is that?

My fault for assuming this would be entry level with no previous experience needed to learn the basics of music theory, but this course is 100% for someone who is seasoned in the music arts.

By Eric W

Dec 22, 2020

Very hard to follow. Wish there were more visuals instead of a narrated power point. I was not able to get past week 1.

By Layth A M

May 3, 2020

I've learned a lot from this course. I've started out not knowing much about music theory and now I can even read sheet music. I'm a self taught guitarist and I've been playing for more than 12 years now, and I must say that it this course would have been impossible, had I not already known the basics through my over 10 years of practice. I certainly wasn't able to name triads or intervals, but I knew some basic chords and could tell what kind of notes I was playing. All in all, I'd definitely recommend this course to whoever is trying to get started with music theory, though keep in mind, that it requires a lot of work and memorisation.

By Silvia R L

Jun 15, 2020

This course has helped me understand many things about music I always thought were difficult. The way the syllabus is structured is really good to build on previous knowledge. The videos were easy to follow and the amount of information in each of them, as well as the extra material were enough to understand without being overwhelming. I liked the quizzes because they helped me reinforce what I was learning. Many thanks for this course, it was a very enjoyanle experience.