Teaching Students the Fundamentals of Music Theory

When it comes to music class, most students are eager to begin creating music as soon as possible. If you ask some young aspiring musicians, music theory is the “boring” part of the class that is unnecessarily complicated. However, some students may fail to recognize that music theory is fundamental to instrument progression, rounding out sounds, and breaking through creative barriers. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss how you can empower your students’ creative journey by giving them the knowledge, tools, and skills necessary to express themselves through music theory. When students understand the fundamentals of music theory, they can collaborate like never before. 

With this hands-on lesson plan, let’s take your music theory class to the next level!

Why Should Students Learn Music Theory?

Music theory is about understanding the sounds we hear in our favorite songs. It allows music makers to communicate with each other and defines the system for teaching core aspects of music. In turn, music theory education opens a whole new world of musical understanding, and students can learn to read musical compositions that are even centuries old.

Music Theory Education Helps Students Understand How Music Works

When students learn music theory, they develop an entirely new understanding of how music functions, which spans far beyond that of a casual listener. By the end of your class, students should be able to fully appreciate why composers choose specific notes or what makes a song evoke a particular emotion. In addition, students will be able to understand how notes work together as they learn about scales and intervals. 

Music Theory Education Encourages Independence

Students who don’t know how to read or write music can only learn new songs by listening to them. Although learning by ear is essential, students without music theory education won’t be able to learn an unrecorded song. Even if your students aren’t playing in an ensemble, music theory education will make it significantly easier for them to grasp new concepts and learn more about music independently.

Music Theory Education Helps Students Express Themselves

Music theory education builds a solid foundation so students can maximize their full musical potential. Your students will soon realize that music theory is another resource in their artistic toolbox. After they’ve learned the fundamentals, students can leverage this depth of knowledge to create epic melodies and harmonies. With a shared fundamental understanding, students can more effectively collaborate with other artists.

The Basic Components of Music Theory

Start on a good note by breaking music theory down to its most basic concepts.  Your curriculum may focus on music composition and interpretation if you’re teaching children. It may be best to begin by teaching your class about notes, scales, keys, and accidentals. Ultimately, composers use music theory to communicate which notes people should play, when they should play them, and which key they should play them in.

After teaching your class about these essential components of music theory and providing clear examples, you can allow your students to apply these concepts in new, exciting ways with hands-on activities. Here are a few essential music theory concepts for your students to master.


Rhythm describes how long or short a specific sound is. When teaching your students about rhythm, you can simplify this concept by encouraging them to think of rhythm in terms of how the notes are measured and the length of time you hear each sound. Most people think of rhythm as how fast or slow a song sounds when they listen to it.

For young children, rhythm can be taught through simple songs like “ Patty Cake” and “Miss Mary Mack.” By understanding patterns, students will be able to follow the beat of a song and understand how a beat works to steer the motion of the music. 


The melody is the part of the song that gets stuck in your head and ties each component of the song together. Furthermore, the melody determines the song’s harmony. If the melody is supposed to evoke a strong emotion, it might also determine the song’s rhythm and tempo.


In the simplest terms, musical harmony is the sound that is produced when multiple pitches are performed at the same time. Harmony typically comes from instruments that play chords while a vocalist sings a melody over the harmony.


Even complete beginners will have a basic understanding of form. In music theory, “form” refers to a song’s order and arrangement. When discussing form, take the time to explain crucial musical vocabulary like “bridge,” “chorus,” “solo,” and more. This way, your students can use accurate language to describe each part of a song.


The term dynamics describes a track’s volume.. Some songs stay in the same book from start to finish, while others gradually change from loud to soft or vice versa. Students will understand dynamics much better as they arrange and produce their music because they’ll need to experiment with audio dynamics.

How to Apply The Music Theory Basics to Your Lesson Plan

When students have the opportunity to apply their newfound musical knowledge to their songs, complex concepts are simplified. After all, music is meant for listening, sharing, and connecting with others. It can be challenging for students to grasp the fundamentals without hearing how elements of music theory function sonically. 

But that’s not all hands-on learning has to offer your students. Collaborative learning strategies allow students to develop better teamwork skills while also experiencing the additional benefits of enhanced knowledge acquisition and increased engagement.  When students work in groups and piece together their musical compositions, they can experience the power of collaboration firsthand. Together they can come up with fresh, creative ideas they may not have considered before.

Let Students Compose Their Own Music with Intuitive Audio Production Software

Now you might think that teaching your students about music theory using audio production is too time-consuming or complex. However, cloud-based audio production tools created especially for students and teachers make composing music a breeze. Every student may not have access to an instrument or the resources to make it to band practice. However, Soundtrap for Education allows students to collaborate from any WIFI-connected device. Yes, this includes smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other internet-connected devices.

Best of all, this platform is so easy to use that even elementary-aged students can  learn about music theory while having fun creating catchy tunes. If you’re ready to incorporate a hands-on activity into your music theory curriculum,  start with this Composition Project! Teaching music theory is a breeze with these three simple steps:

Divide Your Class Into Groups

Assuming that you’ve already installed and configured Sountrap for Education, you’ll need to divide your class into groups. Most teachers divide the class into three groups, but you may alter the lesson plan to suit your unique teaching style. Don’t forget to add each student to their respective groups in Soundtrap. This way, each group can collaborate and create in their own digital space.

Assign Specific Responsibilities to Each Student

Once students are assigned to their groups, you can designate specific responsibilities for each student. Here, you can put collaboration theory into practice by allowing each student to play a separate role in the project’s completion. 

The three group roles divide into the song’s overall production, melodic and harmonic components, and applying the concept of rhythm to beat-making. By separating each element of music theory, you’ll encourage your students to appreciate how each aspect works together to create a better well-rounded final piece. 

Don’t worry. You won’t have to keep track of all the assignments in your notes. Soundtrap lets you create and delegate these assignments within the Studio.

Let Your Students Get Creative

This is the fun part! Now is the time to let your students experiment with the power of music on their terms. Allow them to draw inspiration from their favorite songs to create an authentic musical experience. And if your students need a little help, you can chime and offer guidance at any time within Soundtrap for Education. By the end of the project, each group will have a polished musical composition demonstrating their new understanding of critical music theory concepts.

Music Theory Made Easy with Soundtrap for Education

We get it. Music theory can be hard and downright frustrating for some students. Moreover, it’s challenging for you to teach abstract concepts with traditional teaching methods. Fortunately, Soundtrap for Education simplifies the process for students and teachers alike and allows students to learn with something tangible.

Soundtrap for Education is the ultimate audio production platform for students and teachers to create and edit audio recordings. Pupils and educators can easily tap into their artistic side with this intuitive audio platform that facilitates a creative learning environment for every subject, regardless of the student’s age or experience level.

With Soundtrap for Education, students and teachers can collaborate with advanced cloud technology at any time or place. In addition, the platform comes equipped with a robust resource portal. The portal contains  tutorials, an external curriculum, and lesson plans to complete the educational experience. Additionally, teachers can ensure that student collaboration is safe and secure with invite-only groups in Soundtrap’s versatile digital environment. 

If you’re ready to enhance your educational experience with an intuitive cloud-based audio production platform, get started today with Soundtrap for Education! Share this article with other teachers in your network to help spread the joy of learning through sound.