Review: Piano Program Music Theory Courses

Have you ever been excited about something where it ends up taking over your dreams? This happens to me all the time, but I didn’t expect it to happen with this…

Dr. Kathy Rabago from has created Music Theory Courses for students. These courses are the very definition of flipped learning and something that I have been wanting to find for a while. Students learn the music theory concepts at home or during their music lab time, reinforce the concepts through worksheets (provided), and return to their lessons with an increased knowledge of music theory.

Currently, there are 6 levels available with 6 more levels to be added. Level 7 will be added by the end of 2017. With levels 8-12 to follow in 2018. Kathy used a student’s school grade as a rough guide to the music theory levels. (1st grade= level 1 and so on) Adults and more advanced students can move through the music theory at a much quicker pace.

The music theory course follows the TMTA State Music Theory Syllabus, which I’m sure is pretty standard to most other state theory syllabi. It also pairs perfectly with “Theory Time” by Heather Hearn Rathnau and “Just the Facts” by Regina Rober and Ann Lawry.

Each course contains a minimum of 5 videos. Each video lesson includes a 1-5 downloadable PDF file that students can print and complete during lab time or at home. Each level is available to as a studio license or individual student license. In addition, there is an option to purchase a bundle of all the levels for a studio license.

The bundle is going to be your best deal! Not only will you receive all 6 of the current levels but you will also receive levels 7-12 when they are added later! Can you say SWEEEEET?!!

(Click pictures below for payment information)

Studio Theory Bundle Music Theory Levels 1-6 Includes all lessons, videos, worksheets, and embedded music theory activities. Bonus: Buy the bundle now, and you will receive all of the higher levels for free! *Levels 7 and above will be added at a later date.

But if you aren’t interested in bundling up, you can purchase each level separately. Let’s dive into what each level covers…

Music Theory Level 1 This course covers the basics of music theory for 1st grade (or equivalent) students. The course covers the musical alphabet, the piano keyboard, the treble clef and bass clef, notes on the grand staff, parts of a note, bar lines and measures, and quarter, half, and whole notes. Time signatures, counting, steps & skips, and dynamics are also covered, as well as aural skill identification of high/low, up/down, and same/different.


Music Theory Level 2 This course covers the basics of music theory for 2nd grade (or equivalent) students. The course covers the musical alphabet, quarter, half, whole, & dotted half notes, intervals, half steps & whole steps, sharps & flats, rhythm, dynamic signs, repeats signs, and ear training.


Music Theory Level 3 This course covers the basics of music theory for 3rd grade (or equivalent) students. This course covers staff & note identification, as well as a review of quarter, half, dotted half, & whole notes and rests. We also learn about the intervals of a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The lesson shows students how to construct a major scale using a pattern of whole and half steps. We will learn how to build the C, G, and F Major scales and learn about the key signatures in those keys. We will also cover the concepts of a slur, tie, legato, and staccato. The ear training in lesson 5 covers rhythmic dictation, identification of a missing note, and identifying steps or skips.


Music Theory Level 4 This course covers the basics of music theory for 4th grade (or equivalent) students. The course covers parts of the staff, eight notes and rests, and notes on the staff. Students will review whole & half steps, intervals, and learn about major and minor thirds. We have new vocabulary terms to learn, including: tempo, ritardando, crescendo, decrescendo (diminuendo), and ornament. We will also review and learn about rhythm, counting, and time signatures and bar lines. Students will review the scales C, G, and F Major, and learn about D, A, and E Major. We will also cover the key signatures for those scales. In this course, students will also explore major triads and primary chords. For ear training, we will work on rhythmic dictation and compare two measures by listening.


Music Theory Level 5 This course covers the basics of music theory for 5th grade (or equivalent) students. The course covers parts of the staff, notation, and intervals. We also learn about the dotted quarter note, 16th note, and 16th rest. We review the 6 scales we have already learned and will learn 3 more. We also learn about the order of flats, learn key signatures, and learn about dominant triads. We have new vocabulary terms to learn and will look at musical examples and identify tonic and dominant triads. Our ear training in this level covers rhythmic dictation, melodic dictations, and interval and triad identification. Bonus: Can you identify the notes up and down a 5th from C through all of the sharps and flats?


Music Theory Level 6 This course covers the basics of music theory for 6th grade (or equivalent) students. This level is subdivided into 15 small video lessons, each covering one concept. This allows students to watch and re-watch a small section as needed. In this level, we will learn to identify two notes as either half steps, whole steps, whole + half steps, or enharmonic notes. We will also learn and review all of our major key signatures, and construct the Major circle of 5ths. Students will learn how to write the Major key signatures, as well as place accidentals on a series of notes to create a major scale. We will also work on identifying intervals up to an octave and learn the difference between major and minor thirds. For rhythm, we will cover eight notes and sixteenth notes, and work with both simple and compound time signatures. Students will learn new vocabulary terms and also work on writing the primary triads in the major keys, as well as identifying the primary triads in a musical example. For ear training, students will work on identifying major or minor chords, intervals of a 2nd, 5th, or 7th, and practice rhythmic and melodic dictation. Bonus – learn how to construct the minor circle of 5ths.


Okay, I know you are probably asking by now, are the courses lifetime access? The answer is yes, BUT they won’t always be. If you purchase a course in 2017, you will have lifetime access, but when 2018 rolls around, there will be some changes made. So if you are thinking about doing this (remember I have been dreaming about this for 2 days now…), this is the perfect time to just jump in.

Still not convinced? Here is an inside look at Kathy sharing a demo.


If you have never experienced the flipped learning style, this is the perfect time to give it a try. I’m a huge fan of flipped learning and can’t wait to use these video lessons with my students!

Anita Byers, a piano teacher from Missouri, recently commented on one of my Facebook posts that she has been using the Music Theory Courses with her students for a couple months now. I asked her what she thought of them and this is what she shared,

“I added a 30-minute lab to my studio this past August. In planning how I wanted to set it up, I decided on 15 minutes at the keyboard with Piano Maestro, Simply Piano –or practicing their lesson and 15 minutes working on music theory with apps, videos or worksheets. When reading an article by Leila Viss on “Flipped Classroom Resources”, she mentioned an online music theory course by Dr. Kathy Rabago. After checking out the website I decided to take a look at a couple of levels. I liked them so much I had to get all of the available levels!

I assign a lesson every other week. My students watch the video and complete the worksheets during the 15-minute theory lab time. The following week I go over any missed items on their worksheets. I really like how the series teaches small segments of theory concepts. Each course builds on what was taught during the previous course. I have found that this is the perfect assignment for the 15-minute theory lab. I am using this with 2nd grade through 9th grade students right now.

It has only been 2 months since I began this program with my students, but I can already see the benefits. They are working very independently of the course and can re-play parts that they need to watch again as they complete the worksheets. I’m a planner, so having a set plan for their theory assignment has made my transition to offering a piano lab much easier!”


You can find out more about Dr. Kathy Rabago here.


Since this review, Kathy has made the following updates…

  1. Added the entire syllabus/curriculum for all of the levels completed. (Great for reference)
  2. Added a checklist to keep track what students completed what. (Level 1 is complete. Checklists will be made for each level)
  3. One packet for all the worksheets in each level. Print all the worksheets at once and you are done. (I am personally planning on binding my students workbooks) (Level 1 packet is done with the other levels coming)
  4. A test will be available at the end of each level. (Level 1 test is done. The other levels are coming)

Have more questions about the course? Here are some popular FAQ’s from Kathy, that might help…

1.  Is it easy enough for a child to use?  Absolutely!  I designed the lessons with children in mind.  Each lesson includes a video and a link to the worksheets.

2.  Can I use the course on a tablet, phone, or computer?  All of the above!  You just have to have an internet connection to view the videos.

3.  Can I use this course as just an individual student?  Yes, of course.  The individual pricing is $15 per level.

4.  Will the course keep me logged in and can I bookmark it?  You can absolutely bookmark it for your students or your children for easy access.  You will stay logged in.  If you accidentally log it, you can just log in again with your email and password.

5.  I’m a piano teacher.  Can I use the course for my entire studio?  If you are using the course at your studio during lab time, you may absolutely use it for all your students with the studio license! ($37) If you are wanting your students to watch at home, I ask that each student purchase their own individual license to access to the course.

*affiliate links included in this post

2 thoughts on “Review: Piano Program Music Theory Courses

  1. Jennifer – how are you pointing your students to the course videos and worksheets? I am trying to visualize how I would incorporate this for my independent music lab students. Love this idea – one that I have been thinking of doing for years and am happy to see someone else has done all the hard work!

    1. Mae- I will be starting these in January because my students don’t have regular lessons in December. But my plan is to create a shortcut of each of the leveled links on my iPad. So they can easily find them. Then I will give them the task of doing whatever lesson I want them to do that day. I don’t think it will be every week but maybe every other week. Also my plan is to have them do a worksheet that follows the short sublesson they watch so it’s fresh in their head. Then they move onto the next sublesson. (Sublessons are basically the lesson broken up into smaller time frames)

      Kathy mentioned that she can put together a printable so students can keep track of where they are. (In the studio license there is no way to keep track otherwise, you have to have a single student license for that).

      Does that answer your question?

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