Basic Concepts of Music (online)

Music 151–Section 003 and 351–graduate level only

Do you like music and want to learn more about how it really works? If so, study music theory and apply your new knowledge to your own musical interests. Whether you play guitar by ear, sing in a choir, have studied piano, or play the kazoo, and no matter what type of music you're into, this course will make you a better, and more empowered, musician. Learn the material in a relaxed setting, and apply what you've learned in real world musical activities such as writing radio jingles and TV sitcom themes.


Fall or spring semesters (call for exact start date)




Campus per credit fee (See current tuition rates.)




Dr. Jamie Henke

More information:

Jamie Henke,

Basic Concepts of Music (online)

In this 15-week music course for credit, you will gain a comprehensive knowledge of basic music concepts through a skill building approach in a supportive environment. Learn the basic tools of music theory, cover the basic compositional forms used in music, and explore the development of music through a general survey of musical styles. Coursework includes various analysis assignments, a music journal, listening maps and other projects that help you apply the concepts and skills learned in the course.

About Music 151–Section 003 and 351–graduate level only

This is a 15-week online course which runs on the regular campus semester schedule. A new unit of the course is posted each week. Within that week you can work at your own pace and on your own schedule.

This course is open to:

  • part-time (any campus)
  • full-time students (any campus except UW-Madison)
  • returning adult students
  • special students

It is not open to music majors or high school students. If you have questions about your status as a part-time or special student, contact student services at 608-263-6960


This course is taught by Dr. Jamie Henke, who is the 2006 recipient of the campus-wide Chancellor's Hilldale Award for Excellence in Teaching. She teaches Basic Concepts of Music through the UW-Madison School of Music, and she is a member of the Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts in the Division of Continuing Studies where she teaches music history and appreciation, composition, and music theory. She earned her PhD in Music Theory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989. Dr. Henke is the author of a new and innovative online textbook, "Theory Gizmos," published by Textbook Consortium. The book is available in an interactive online format with both visual animations and sound, as well as in a traditional print format. Dr. Henke continues to be an active performer. She has appeared in many recitals, and performs on a regular basis at area churches. Her repertoire includes works that range from J. S. Bach to Gershwin and Kern. She is currently the Cherub choir director at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison.

About credits

This is a three credit course offered by the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music. This is a general elective that counts as Humanities credit. If you have any questions, please email Dr. Henke at

Course grading

Topics covered (weekly)

  1. Chapter 1 Basic Gizmos: Notation
  2. Chapter 2 Measurement Gizmos: Rhythm
  3. Chapter 3 Major Gizmos: Scales and Chapter 4 Minor Gizmos: More scales
  4. Chapter 5 Gizmos of Different Sizes: Intervals
  5. Chapter 9 Linear Gizmos: Melody

Exam on weeks 1-5

  1. Chapter 6 Vertical Gizmos: Triads
  2. Chapter 7 More Vertical Gizmos: Seventh Chords
  3. Chapter 8 Construction Gizmos: Basic Harmony
  4. Chapter 10 More Construction Gizmos: Putting it All Together
  5. Chapter 10 continued

Exam on weeks 6-10

  1. Putting it all together: Forms
  2. General survey of Musical Styles
  3. 20th Century Musical Tools
  4. 20th Century Musical Tools continued
  5. Analysis and composition

Exam on weeks 11-15

Students need to provide

  • One tablet of staff paper
  • A supply of plain paper (no lines)
  • Colored pencils (at least 3)

This course uses the online text Theory Gizmos which makes it possible to hear and interact with everything discussed. The course also provides a flash animation that will allow you to play keys on your computer keyboard like a piano. This provides the opportunity to "feel" all of the theory concepts under your hands and experiment with the different sounds covered during the course of the semester.

Final grade

Your final grade will be determined by your performance on all of the following tasks:

Three exams

  • Exam I: 100 points
  • Exam II: 100 points
  • Exam III: 100 points

Total = 300 points

Music Journal

  • Various journal entries
  • theme and variation, jingle, TV theme
  • listening maps

Total = 100 points

Classroom/Discussion Board Activities = 100 points

  • melody mixer game
  • collaborative project
  • written assignments

Total = 100 points

Total number of course points possible= 500

Registration procedure

In order to participate in Music 151-section 003 and 351-graduate level only for credit, you must apply to be a University Special Student at the UW-Madison. The free application is online and can be accessed at the following website:

The online application will take approximately 30 minutes - please be sure to provide all requested information. Your classification is "UNPS." Under "academic plan," be sure to specify that you are interested in taking the Music 151-section 003 and 351-graduate level only online course.

You will receive admission information within two weeks after your application is submitted. You can apply to be a special student any time between now and up to three weeks before the start of the fall term.

After being admitted as a special student, you will need to register in the course. You will receive detailed instructions about this part of the process with your admission letter after you have submitted your application.

Currently, the summer tuition rate for in-state University Special Students is the campus per credit fee. This information is available at the Registrar's website.

If you have questions about registration, please call Sybil Pressprich at 608-263-7207 at the Adult, Career and Special Student Services Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (21 N Park St., 7th Floor, Madison, WI 53715).