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Free course

Understanding musical scores

Free statement of participation on completion
Understanding musical scores

Explore what's involved when musicians create a performance from musical notation in this free online course.


Would you like to know more about what musicians do in rehearsals and performances? Would you like to learn different techniques for listening to and understanding music?

This free course provides a general introduction to how to understand a musical score, and insights into what professional musicians do with the notation that these contain. You'll learn how to connect the notation you see with the music you hear, from short familiar melodies to a full orchestral score.

Focusing on works by Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Mahler, we'll introduce you to a pianist, a small chamber group and a conductor who will explain how they create memorable performances from the notes on the page.


This course is intended for anyone with an interest in music. You do not need to be able to read musical notation or play an instrument.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the reasons for different musical notations
  • understand the relationship between notation and performance
  • navigate printed music
  • listen to a simple musical example alongside its notation.

First Published: 02/11/2015

Updated: 09/04/2018

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