February 25, 2014

The Internet is an amazing resource for burgeoning musicians and songwriters. Here is a rundown of some classes and websites.

Fortunately, with the rising popularity of free online courses, pioneered by MIT Open Courseware and other learning institutions, getting your foot in the door of music education is easier than ever.  One of the most well-known music production universities, Berklee College of Music, provides two noteworthy classes through Coursera: Introduction to Songwriting and Introduction to Music Production.

Introduction to Songwriting is led by Pat Pattison, a professor and author of songwriting at the school.  His videos are informative and oftentimes funny.  It’s a true pleasure to watch his lectures.  Lectures are paired with in-video questions to make sure you understand concepts mentioned along with after-lecture quizzes and homework assignments.  As it is a free class, participating in the quizzes and assignments are not required, but highly encouraged.

Introduction to Music Production is an overview of music production concepts, including basics like “what is sound?” but moving onto studio setup and use of digital audio workstations (DAWs).  The majority of the videos are short, ranging from 2-10 minutes, and covers bite-sized information before moving on to the next topic.  Like the Songwriting class mentioned above, this relies on after-lecture quizzes, but relies heavily on peer-reviewed assignments.  The course expects students to participate in forum discussions and to turn in assignments that teach a basic topic to other students.

If you like more self-guided learning, you can take a look at music theory and practice writing songs using basic chord progressions.  Musictheory.net is the top resource in self-guided learning. Lessons are laid out in sections, starting with the basics of reading sheet music and moves on to meter, scales, and chords.  Each lesson is in bullet form, with each bullet tied to a different image to illustrate the point. The site provides exercises in ear training and music reading in a handy web app format along with other tools. The site is associated with two mobile apps, but the advertisement for those are low-key and easily ignorable.

Another user-friendly music theory guide is Dave Conservatoire. The lessons are broken up into short, 3-5 minute videos. The lessons are similar to musictheory.net’s with the addition of ensemble writing and some music history. The website also provides interactive exercises but requires a Google or Facebook account to login.

And if you just want easy-to-read and print out one-sheets of different different music fundamentals, click here.

Have fun!


  1. For new and developing musicians, having a fair idea of music theory, including song writing, production, ear training is very important. Me and my brother started this journey together. He got his ear training from Ear Training HQ and I from an 'offline' master. We both had the same results.