Music Fundamentals

General Knowledge Workshops for Teenagers

music notation

All music students can benefit from understanding how music works. This workshop is an opportunity to take a step back to explore the big picture of music: how the notes fit together into scales and keys, how harmony has an effect on everything we hear and feel in music, and how the structures of music take us by the hand and guide us through a wonderful journey.

For high school students, aged 12 to 18

Course Outline

Session 1: Scales, Keys and Modulations

  • Discussion: what are scales for?
  • How we hear music
  • What is a scale?
  • The Major Scale
  • The Cycle of Fifths
  • The Minor Scale: three types
  • Changing Key (Modulations)
  • How to spot modulations

Session 2: Modes and other scales

  • Where do our notes come from?
  • The origins of western music
  • The Medieval Modes
  • Other types of scales
  • Equal Temperament

Session 3: Large Musical Forms

  • Discussion: What is structure for?
  • Movements
  • The Sonata
  • The Symphony
  • The Concerto
  • The Suite
  • The Overture
  • Summing up

Session 4: Forms Within Forms

  • Through-composed
  • Theme and Variations
  • Fugue
  • Binary
  • Ternary
  • Song form/32 bar form/A-A-B-A form
  • Minuet and Trio form, and Scherzo
  • Rondo
  • First Movement or Sonata Form
  • Sonata Rondo form
  • Analysing forms
  • Form in performance
  • Summing up

This workshop can be split into two 3-hour workshops, Key, Tonality, Modes & Modulations and Form and Structure

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“I learnt more about the modes, how keys are related to each other, the point of having keys and scales”

“I liked how music and science is interrelated, and it was interesting about the history and culture behind modes and keys. This session consolidated my knowledge of keys, tones, etc.”

“I think that this session was very informative and gave me a deeper understanding and knowledge of the ‘rules and guidelines’ or the simple stuff that composers base their works on”

“It gave me a clearer knowledge of the different forms and structures which I can relate to different pieces of music”

More about Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University's Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney.

More about Susan's qualifications

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Susan's other music courses