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Free online course

From Notation to Performance: Understanding Musical Scores

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

Free:

  • Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, starting from when you join
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

From Notation to Performance: Understanding Musical Scores

Why join the 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 online 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.

Focussing 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.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds[Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing]

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsCATHERINE TACKLEY: Have you ever wondered what a conductor does? How do musicians work together to create complicated music that sounds like a single person or instrument playing?

Skip to 0 minutes and 22 seconds [More Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing] CATHERINE TACKLEY: What do musicians have propped up on stands in from of them and how do they use it? What makes the lines and dots meaningful to musicians and allows them to create the sounds we call music?

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds [More Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing] CATHERINE TACKLEY: What does reading music mean? Why do some musician need printed music and some not?

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 seconds [More Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing] CATHERINE TACKLEY: Music is a bit like a language. If you understand a little bit of the language of a country you visit you really get more from your trip. If you understand a little bit about how music works you will experience music in a different and more meaningful way.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 seconds [More Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing] CATHERINE TACKLEY: Come behind the scenes with us to explore what musicians do in rehearsals and concerts. Understand more about how they use notation to create the performances that we all enjoy. Ultimately learn about how a conductor navigates the full orchestra scores of symphonies by composers like Mahler and Beethoven. [More Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing]

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Who is the course for?

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.

Who will you learn with?

Catherine Tackley

I am Head of Music at the Open University. I am interested in jazz, especially in the UK - I have written a book on this topic and also one on the jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman.

Naomi Barker

Lecturer in music at the Open University. Flautist, researcher in late 16th and 17th century instrumental music and early modern enthusiast. @naomibarker3

Who developed the course?

Buy a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats, to celebrate taking part.

£34.00 + shipping

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