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  • Writer's pictureTom Glasson

Grade 1:1 - Introduction to Musical Notes


Welcome to the Grade 1 Music theory series!

This series will introduce music theory from the very beginning and by the end, you will have an understanding of most musical concepts and be able to read and write sheet music.

Learning music can be massively rewarding, wether you want to learn how to write or play music, or just gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the music you love listening to. You are at the start of an incredible journey, I'm excited for you!

If you need any help along your way, I'm always happy to be there for you, so get in touch at any time

Before you start, I have a gift for you. Below is a pdf which contains all the terms, signs and symbols you may come across in grade 1. This will be a really useful tool as you study music, download it now and refer to it whenever you need to.

Performance Directions, Terms and Signs
Download PDF • 10.75MB

On to lesson 1...

This is the first lesson of Grade 1 music theory. The first few lessons of this series will introduce the basics of music to you. We are starting by looking at the musical notes, these are the symbols used to write music.

When music is written down, it is formed from different symbols, or notes. These are written onto something called a stave, or staff. You may have seen this before.

We will go into more detail about this in other lessons, but I’m introducing it now, because this is where the music is written.

Note that there’s always 5 lines, numbered 1 to 5 from the bottom. The horizontal axis represents time, from left to right, which creates rhythm and the vertical axis represents pitch, how high or low a note sounds, this creates harmony.

Together they create melody and music. The stave is split into bars, like this.

You can see more about how these work in the next lesson - Bars & Time Signatures.


Music is represented by notes. They are drawn onto the stave. There are different symbols that represent the notes and they have different meanings. There are 2 different names for each note, referred to as the US and the UK system.

Names of the music notes. Both UK & US names.
Music Notes & Names

The US system is widely used in many genres, such as Jazz and Rock even in the UK. I have frequently had to use both systems and it will really help you to know both, so you can easily communicate with anyone, in any situation.

The US fractional names are particularly useful to learn because they tell you exactly the function of the note. You can see why in the lesson - Time Value of Notes, but simply, a quarter note is worth a quarter of a whole note, a half note is worth half a whole note and so on... The Traditional names can be confusing, because they don’t mean anything, but as you become familiar with them they will become second nature. But again, it will help you to learn both, because there are many situations using each.

The next lesson moves on to how the stave is split up to create different rhythms, when you are ready, click the link below to move on to lesson 1.2...

Next: Lesson 2 - Bars & Time Signatures

A Free Gift for you...

Download the Grade 1 Music Theory Workbook - An Introduction to Music Theory for free. The workbook is a written course which teaches you the entire content of Grade 1 music theory from start to finish, it is the full written version of our video course. It contains activities, with answers, to test your knowledge and give you chance to practice what you are learning.

There are 19 sections, covering every topic as well as reference sheets and materials which will come in handy as you study.

Click here to check it out.

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