Learning Objectives For a Solid Music Education Program – Learning Music Theory

Nancy B. Alston

A solid Music Education program trains its students in understanding Music Theory. Music Theory is important because it is the key to analyzing music and good musicians should have this ability. Understanding the structure of music is laying the foundation for new music to be created. For instance, knowing the major and minor scales, on which music of the Western Hemisphere is based, helps students to understand the make-up of a composition which can lead students to compose their own music.

In order to play an instrument or sing, there are basic skills all music students must know. One particular skill is playing or singing major and minor scales. In order to do this, the key signature of each scale must be known. The following is a diagram that illustrates the major keys that contain sharps. This diagram provides students with a method of learning the number of sharps in a key in numerical order.

Key Signature Diagram

Major Keys with Sharps (black keys to the right of the note – for example: “F” sharp (#) is the very next black key on the right of “F”)

C Major: 0 Sharps
G Major: 1 Sharp – F#
D Major: 2 Sharps – F#, C#
A Major: 3 Sharps – F#, C#, G#
E Major: 4 Sharps – F#, C#, G#, D#
B Major: 5 Sharps – F#, C#, G#, D#, A#
F# Major: 6 Sharps – F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#
C# Major: 7 Sharps – F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#

By reading this diagram in order, students will see the close relationship one key has with the next key. For instance, “C” major, having no sharps or flats, is closely related to “G” major since “G” major has only one sharp. However, “C” major is not closely related to “E” major because “E” major has four sharps. Knowing the relationship between keys is important for ear training purposes so students can hear as well as see how music is structured and then progresses into new music.

Once the major keys that contain sharps are learned, then the major scales with sharps can be learned vocally or on an instrument. Next, the major keys and scales that contain flats, the minor keys and scales that contain sharps then the minor keys and scales that contain flats should be introduced in that order.

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