Music Theory Lessons

Whether for high school, AMEB, or just to improve your musical knowledge, we can help. Music Theory can be daunting, but with comprehensive tutoring we can assist you in improving your theory skill set in composition and analysis. What the lessons cover depends quite heavily on your skill level and/or your study requirements, therefore we construct each lesson based on what that student will need to cover next, whether they are:

  • Primary School students
  • Year 7-10 students
  • VCE students
  • AMEB students
  • First-Year University students
  • Adult learners

Primary School Students

Music theory is the basic building blocks of reading and constructing music. Just like learning to read words, learning to read music is incredibly effective when learnt young. We employ many fun mnemonics to assist students with memorisation and learning.

At a primary level, we teach the basics of rhythm, how to read a stave, how to recognize notes and their values. We also teach the major and minor scales, basic intervals and some ear training techniques. These lessons will be extremely beneficial if the student is learning an instrument or is planning to learn one in high school.

Note: this section refers to primary students NOT currently enrolled in an AMEB program. For AMEB students, see the ‘AMEB students’ section below.

Year 7-10 Students

At a high school level, we tailor our music theory lessons to whether or not that student is studying high school music and/or an instrument. If the student is not studying music, at the conclusion of each unit there are short tests built to gauge their progress.

If the student is new to studying music theory, we will cover everything learnt in the previous section. In addition, we teach how to recognize a key and the circle of fifths, basic scales and modes, advanced rhythms and rhythmic notation. We will also start ear training in earnest, with some basic sight-reading and melodic dictation.

For students planning on studying VCE Music Styles and Composition, we will also teach a beginner’s composition unit.

Note: this section refers to high school students NOT currently enrolled in an AMEB program. For AMEB students, see the ‘AMEB students’ section below.

VCE Students

These lessons will be built on accompanying the curriculum outlined in the VCAA syllabus, depending if the student is studying Music Performance, Music Investigation, or Music Styles and Composition.

If the student is new or behind in studying music theory, we will cover everything learnt in the previous sections. In addition, we teach advanced interval recognition, advanced scales and modes, melodic recognition and transcription, chord recognition and transcription, chord progressions and notation conventions.

Music Style and Composition students will also study an intermediate composition unit.

AMEB Students

These lessons are tailored for students undertaking an AMEB exam- whether as a theory requirement for a practical exam, or as part of the Music Craft, Theory of Music, or Musicianship syllabi. We will cover whatever the student is experiencing difficulty with.

To find out more about AMEB, select ‘AMEB Preparation’ from the Our Services drop-down menu above, or visit the AMEB website:

First-Year University Students

Our university level lessons are built around the unit guide that your university offers. University theory typically covers counterpoint, chord progression and analysis, diatonicism and chromaticism. We also teach ear training, covering scale and mode recognition, sight reading, interval recognition, melodic and rhythmic diction.

We do not currently offer advanced composition tutoring at Ellen McCarthy Music. However, feel free to get in touch with us and we can put you in touch with a Melbourne-based composer relevant to your composition style.

Note: Some universities (such as Monash) are now offering Jazz-based theory units. Our current theory lessons only include tradition Western classical music theory.

Adult Learners

Each adult level music theory session depends on the skills, knowledge, and goals of the individual. Want to be a songwriter but don’t understand chords? In a choir and needing to improve your sight reading ability? Want to be able to assist your child with their music homework? In the first free lesson, we will sit with you and construct a curriculum that suits your needs and schedule.

Lesson Timetable

Our lessons are flexible and can be organised to suit your timetable, whether before or after school or business hours.

We often work for young adults, many of whom have large costs associated with each unit they take. Because of this, we try to keep our lessons cheap and straightforward to organise.

Organising a Lesson

The first lesson with Ellen McCarthy Music is always free! This is so we can establish where you’re at and what you need to work on. We’ll also go over how many lessons you require and your timetable. After that, all Music Theory lessons are $30 for under 16 year olds, and $40 a session for 16 and above.

About My Music Theory Lessons

Lessons are suitable for people aged 5 and over and are suited to people who just want to have fun, as well as those pursuing a career in music

I have a Working with Children Check, First Aid Certificate, and extensive experience in teaching and voice performance ensuring a safe and effective teaching environment.

Lessons are great fun, and include exercises, theory and skills that build both confidence and technique ensuring that you not only have a great time, but also become a better musician.

Lessons are great for building confidence in people of all ages, especially younger students where it is especially important to build a healthy level of confidence.

Would you like to know more?