10 Sources for Free Online Music Courses
See our list of the top free online music courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that is right for you.
Online Music Courses for Credit
While free online music classes are available that don't require registration or tuition, these classes also don't provide a path to college credit. Students who would rather find courses that can lead to college credit might consider options that charge a nominal fee to access online lessons. These types of courses (fee-based) help students prepare to earn alternative forms of college credit.
Education Portal offers this form of online learning to registered members who have access to short and engaging video lessons and self-assessment quizzes. Education Portal also offers free transcripts for all of their video lessons. Both the transcripts and the video lessons can help students get real college credit. Students interested in music can find a Humanities 101: Intro to the Humanities course that includes chapters on music. These chapters include:
- Elements of Music - Find out how to read notes on the treble and bass clef staff, identify sharp and flat notes and differentiate between the various types of scales.
- Medieval Music - Learn about Gregorian Chant, medieval vocal styles, love songs and major composers of this period.
- The Baroque Period in Music - Study the organ, the fugue, the oratorio and ornate music in this chapter.'
Free Online Non-Credited Music Courses
These free music courses require no tuition payments or registration, and students who complete them earn no credit. In order to take full advantage of the courses, users may need specific software applications to access video and audio offerings. Quality speakers or headphones may be beneficial when listening to music clips and samples.
This 12-video instructional series in Exploring the World of Music is appropriate for high school through adult students, as well as teachers. By watching half-hour videos, students examine topics like sound and environment, learning music, melody, harmony and music memory, as well as music composers and technology. Related print and audio/video media are also available for a fee.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Voice students learn the importance of posture, breathing, warming up, clear enunciation/articulation and frequent practice while investigating the videos on the Learn to Sing site. Learners may also access a 6-video tutorial for breathing exercises and fine-tuning strategies. The lessons include exercises and demonstrational videos.
Children's Music Workshop
The Online Music Theory Game offers aspiring musicians a variety of lessons and trainers on multiple instruments. The lessons examine sheet music and provide video instructions in areas such as note duration, major and minor scales, key signatures and meter.
Courtney Brown, Ph.D., presents 23 lessons covering such topics as patriotic music, protest music and labor music in this course. Students may view the podcasts through iTunes to learn how music transmits political ideas and possibly leads to political transformation.
In 6 lectures that span more than 11 hours, the composer Leonard Bernstein discusses musical topics such as syntax, semantics and phonology, in addition to what he called 'the crisis of the 20th century'. Learners may view the videos through iTunes or YouTube. Interested parties may also purchase these lectures in DVD or print format on Amazon.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Introduction to Music Composition is an undergraduate course that broaches topics such as classical music of various cultures, jazz, graphing sound, timbre, electronic music and rhythm. While studying Music and Technology, undergraduate students will examine the aesthetics and history of music and technology during the last several centuries. Select video lectures and audio music clips are available.
Graduate students, or those with backgrounds in composition, may want to take advantage of the Music Composition course. Composition projects in melodic writing, counterpoint, melody/accompaniment, timbre/rhythm and variable texture are the focus. In each of these courses, students complete reading and listening activities, some of which have available links, although users must locate most readings independently.
Beginning music students will learn about topics such as clefs, rhythmic meter, pitch values and time signatures in the 8-hour An Introduction to Music Theory course. The advanced, 20-hour course, Voice-Leading Analysis of Music 1: The Foreground, is the 1st in a 3-part series. Music students learn about the Schenkerian analysis method, also known as voice-leading analysis, through examples of audio clips from Mozart piano sonatas.
University of California - Irvine
Students attempting this 9-part course will want to have basic math skills, and an understanding of basic musical terms and notations will be beneficial. Learners will investigate tonal systems and the math concepts used in scales and chords. Lessons are in video format and may be viewed full-screen.
The 23 lectures in this course employ print, audio and video. Students will practice aural skills in an effort to understand Western music more efficiently, examine how composers put music together and listen to a variety of styles. The composers studied include Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Elton John and Bocelli.