In this class you will learn all aspects of Music Theory: read and write music, understand scales and key signatures, become familiar with note durations and learn musical terms and Italian words. 

This class is suitable for all levels of knowledge in Music Theory, from beginner to advanced. We will be starting with the basics to recap and underpin musical knowledge and will learn up to Grade 5 requirements. 

This class will be particularly useful for students who play an instrument and for those taking their ABRSM exams. Remember that Grade 5 theory must be obtained before taking Grade 6 on any instrument, therefore learning Music Theory is extremely important. 

Online Class Monday's at 6:45pm

Music theory resources

The Stave (Staff)

The Stave or Staff is a bit like a home for our musical notes. There are  five lines which the notes are written on and between these five lines there are four spaces.

There are two Staves called The Grand Stave and we use this for playing the piano. The top stave is called the treble clef and is used for the higher notes in the right hand. The bottom stave is called the bass clef and is used for the lower notes in the left hand. 

Order on Stave

CLEF , KEY, TIME (CKT - See Katie)

The clef is always shown first on our Stave. There are four clefs:

  • Treble Clef
  • Bass Clef
  • Alto Clef
  • Tenor Clef

Each Clef has their own set of notes but the easiest way to work out the notes is to find where middle C is first. 

Next on the stave is the Key signature. This tells you if there are any sharps or flats (black notes) to be played in the piece. 

After the key signature is the time signature and this tells you how many beats are in a bar. 



Note Durations

There are different types of notes that tell you how many beats you need to hold down for.

  • The breve isn't used very often but you would hold it down for 8 beats. 
  • The semibreve is held down for 4 beats.
  • The minim is held down for 2 beats
  • The crotchet is held down for 1 beat
  • The quaver is held for 1/2 a beat
  • The semiquaver is held for 1/4 of a beat
  • The demisemiquaver is held for an 1/8 of a beat

2 demisemiquavers = 1 semiquaver 

2 semiquavers = 1 quaver

2 quavers = 1 crotchet

2 crotchets = 1 minim 

2 minims = 1 semibreve

2 semibreves = 1 breve

Dotted notes

Dotted notes are held for an extra 50% of the note.

  • dotted semibreve is held for 4 + 2 = 6 
  • dotted minim is held for 2 + 1 = 3
  • dotted crotchet is held for 1 + 1/2 = 1 1/2
  • dotted quaver is held for 1/2 + 1/4 = 3/4
  • dotted semiquaver is held for 1/4 + 1/8 = 3/8

Double dotted notes

Double dotted notes are held for an extra 75% (50% + 25%) of the note.

  • double dotted semibreve is held for 4 + 2 + 1 = 7
  • double dotted minim is held for 2 + 1 + 1/2 = 3 1/2
  • double dotted crotchet is held for 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 = 1 3/4
  • double dotted quaver is held for 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 = 7/8


Key Signatures Sharps 

Start at C major which is a neutral key and has no sharps or flats.

To find the next key signature in the sequence go up 5 notes including C. 

That then takes you to G major which is your new key signature and will have 1 sharp in.

To find what sharp is in G major go back one to the black note which is F#.

So G major has F# in it.

The sharps from the previous key signature are carried over to the next key signature so each time you will add a new sharp - a bit like a pyramid. 

Key Signatures Flats 

Again, start at C major but this time go up 4 notes including C to find the next key signature in the sequence. 

That takes you to F. 

To find what flat is in F major, go up 4 notes again from F and make the note flat.

That takes you to B flat. 

Bb major then becomes the next key signature in the sequence. Go up 4 notes again and repeat the process. 



An interval is the distance counted on the lines and spaces between two musical notes.  When working out intervals always start with the bottom note.  Always include the first note when counting the distance between them. 

Each interval has a number but also has a quality.  The quality of the interval is basically the type. 

There are five different qualities of intervals 

  • major intervals 
  • minor intervals 
  • perfect intervals (neither major or minor)
  • augmented intervals (sharpened) 
  • diminished intervals (flattened) 


What is the difference between a melodic interval and a harmonic interval? 

Melodic intervals are placed side by side and are read horizontally. 

Melodic intervals are found in melodies. 

Harmonic intervals are on top of each other and are read vertically. 

Harmonic intervals are found in chords. (Think of harmony) 

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