Where Can I Find Free Online Music Courses?

Free online music courses are available through the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Students can study these courses on their own time, with an Internet connection and a laptop or home computer. Schools offering Ethnomusicology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, these online music courses include lecture notes and listening and reading assignments; some also feature quizzes and exams that you can use to gauge how well you've absorbed the presented materials. These undergraduate courses have no prerequisites and do not award course credit.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Early music, introduction to Western music, and modern music are OpenCourseWare (OCW) courses that originated as a for-credit courses offered to undergraduates. You will not receive credit for these courses, but you can use all course content for free and study at your convenience.

Early Music

What Will I Learn?

You will study Western musical history from ancient times until about 1625. The course's three main topics are chant, music in the Trecento, and Elizabethan London. Other topics include musical study tools such as notation and manuscript analysis.

What Assignments Will I Complete?

You could complete three assignments that involve musical notations, transcriptions and other topics. The course includes two exams with study guides. Prompts are provided for two papers.

What Materials Are Included?

The course includes lecture notes and handouts from 22 lectures. Topics include antiquity to chant, the birth of polyphony, and introduction to Trecento music. Also provided are materials for listening and scores, available as PDF files. If students choose to purchase the textbook, they'll be able to follow along with listening activities on the CD that accompanies the book.

Introduction to Western Music

What Will I Learn?

The course covers Western music from the medieval period through the 20th century with particular emphasis on Romantic, Baroque, modern and classical styles. You will also study influential composers and their musical genres and styles.

What Assignments Will I Complete?

Four essays are assigned on concerts and various musical works. You could also answer the sample questions in a final exam study guide. Solutions aren't provided, and you will not receive feedback from instructors.

What Materials Are Provided?

The course includes lecture notes on topics such as Renaissance music, Beethoven, concertos and symphonies. Other materials include listening assignments (in an optional textbook/CD), reading assignments and essay formatting guidelines.

Modern Music: 1900-1960

What Will I Learn?

You will study compositions created during the first 60 years of the 20th century and examine change and continuity in the music. The course also covers the relationship between the music studied and popular music. Other topics include aleatory music, computerized music and musical minimalism.

What Assignments Will I Complete?

Assignment options include creating or revising a Wikipedia article on modern music, writing brief reports on two concerts you attended and completing worksheets on musical intervals and atonality. Other assignments include a paper critiquing a composer's musical style and a short presentation on a topic of your choice. Your work will not be evaluated.

What Materials Are Provided?

The course includes lecture notes and links to compositions included in listening assignments. You can also access examples of student work on Wikipedia articles and guidelines for preparing a short presentation.

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