Music Theory and Sight-Singing for Vocalists

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Authored by Andrea Capozzoli, Elena Koleva


Course Code: OVOIC-100

Next semester
starts June 24

12 Weeks

Level 1

Level 1

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


This course is a basic to intermediate level class, introducing the elements of music theory and sight-reading for vocalists who would like to develop a strong fundamental knowledge of music theory and improve sight-singing skills. This course will start with the basics, identifying the staff, note names, rhythms, and time signatures while establishing simple sight-singing techniques. Throughout the course, we’ll cover all of the various intervals and their inversions, various scales including major, minor, pentatonic, and blues, and we’ll also discuss the Greek modes. You will demonstrate your skills by completing short writing projects each week that will build in complexity as the course progresses.

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Define the basic musical terms, symbols and their usage while reading music.
  • Write and read music themes and melodies by showing a solid knowledge of notation, key signatures and time signatures, tempo marks, counting, rests and repeat signs.
  • Develop steady skills of singing intervals smoothly in a melody.
  • Connect different melodic figures rhythmically, like triplets, quadruplets, and quintuplets as well as syncopated phrases in a variety of simple and compound time signatures.
  • Use assigned accidentals while reading music in different keys appropriately.
  • Recognize a variety of idioms in the context of the main music genres.
  • Sight-sing the melody in lead sheets with chords and lyrics.
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: The Staff

  • The Single Music Staff: The Treble Clef
  • The Single Music Staff: The Bass Clef
  • Single and Double Bar Lines and Ledger Lines
  • Flats, Sharps, and Naturals
  • Sight-Singing: Stepwise Motion
  • Assignment: 4 Bar Melody

Lesson 2: Rhythm

  • Simple Time Signatures/Counting and Conducting
  • Note Values
  • Stems, Flags, and Beams
  • Dotted Notes
  • Rests
  • Dotted Rests
  • Syncopation
  • Assignment: Written Melody with a Combination of Note Values and Rests

Lesson 3: The Major Scale and Introduction To Simple Intervals, Part 1

  • The Major Scale (Whole Steps and Half Steps)
  • Major Scales (with Five, Six, and Seven Sharps and Flats)
  • Introduction to Intervals, Part 1—Major and Minor 2nds
  • Major and Minor 3rds
  • Sight-Singing Exercises
  • Assignment: Write a 12-Bar Melody in C Major Using 2nds and 3rds

Lesson 4: Key Signatures and Intervals, Part 2

  • Melodic and Harmonic Perfect Intervals
  • Key Signatures and the Usage of Accidentals
  • Circle of 5ths
  • Sight-Reading Exercises
  • Assignment: Compose A Melody In 4/4

Lesson 5: Intervals Part 3 and Compound Time Signatures

  • Intervals (M6, M6, M7, M7)
  • Interval Inversions in G and F Clefs
  • Compound Time Signatures
  • Sight-Singing: Melodies Featuring 6ths and 7ths in Compound Time Signatures
  • Assignment: Simple Melody In Two-Part Harmony in a Compound Time Signature

Lesson 6: More on Rhythm

  • Ties and Slurs and the Imaginary Bar Line
  • Downbeat and Offbeat
  • Rhythms and Subdivisions
  • Triplets, Quadruplets, and Quintuplets
  • Assignment: Midterm Project

Lesson 7: Musical Symbols

  • Tempo Marks
  • Music Symbols
  • Dynamics
  • Repeat Signs, First and Second Endings
  • Compose a Melody In 4/4
  • Assignment: Transcribe the Melody to ‘O Cessate Di Piagarmi’

Lesson 8: The Minor Scales and Intervals, Part 4

  • Minor Scales (up to Four Sharps and Four Flats)
  • Minor Scales [with Five, Six, and Seven Sharps and Flats
  • Common Accidentals in Relative Key Signatures
  • Natural, Harmonic, and Melodic Minor Scales
  • Compound Intervals and Their Inversions
  • Assignment: 12-Bar Melody in the Key of D Minor in 6/8 Time Signature

Lesson 9: More Scales: Major Pentatonic, Minor Pentatonic, Chromatic and Blues Scales

  • Major Pentatonic Scale
  • Minor Pentatonic Scale
  • Chromatic Scale
  • Blues Scale
  • Assignment: 12-Bar Blues Melody

Lesson 10: Triads

  • Diatonic Triads Based on Scale Degrees Presented by Roman Numerals
  • Primary Triads
  • Secondary Triads
  • Diminished and Augmented Triads and Their Inversions
  • Assignment: 16-Bar Chord Progression

Lesson 11: 7th Chords

  • Dominant 7th Chords
  • Major 7th Chords
  • Minor 7th Chords
  • Minor 7 B5 Chords
  • Diminished 7th Chords
  • Augmented 7th Chords
  • Assignment: 12-Bar Melody

Lesson 12: The Modes

  • Major Modes: Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolydian
  • Major Modes: Ionian, Lydian, and Mixolidian
  • Minor Modes: Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian, and Locrian
  • Sight-Singing with Modes
  • Assignment: Final Project


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
Students should be able to:

  • Sing, in key and in time
  • Perform simple call and response exercises


  • No textbooks required


  • Students are required to record video for their assignments. Options for recording video include:
    • Smartphone
    • Digital camera
    • Webcam (using either video recording software, or the video recording tool that is built into the learning environment)


  • Students are required to create notation and submit it in PDF format. Options include:
    • Notation software (recommended option), such as Finale, Sibelius, Dorico, MuseScore (free), etc.
    • Handwritten notation captured by a digital camera or a scanner can be used in lieu of notation software.


  • Students are required to capture their performance, as well as monitor audio output. Options include:
    • Input (one required):
      • XLR microphone and audio interface (recommended option)
      • USB microphone
      • Built-in computer/mobile device microphone
    • Output (one required):
      • Headphones (required if multitracking and/or input monitoring)
      • Studio monitors and audio interface
      • Built-in or external speakers
  • Note: Depending on your setup, you may also need an XLR cable, microphone stand, and pop filter.
  • Printer or staff paper
  • Scanner or digital camera to convert handwritten notation into PDF format


  • Metronome (hardware or software/app)

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Andrea Capozzoli

Author & Instructor

Andrea Capozzoli is a vocalist, trumpet player, pianist, songwriter, producer, and arranger. She was the recipient of the Female R&B Artist of the Year award from the New York International Music Festival and her musical travels have included performances at the Beantown Jazz Festival in Boston, The Blue Note and Iridium in New York, and many festivals and tours throughout the US and Europe. Andrea is a faculty member at Berklee as an Assistant Professor in the Voice department. Her specialties include jazz and R&B improvisation courses as well as sight-singing ensembles.

Elena Koleva


Elena Koleva is a versatile singer and creative teacher working in various music styles such as Jazz, Music Theater, Eastern-European folklore, R&B and other contemporary styles. She holds a Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from the Bulgarian State Academy and a Master’s degree (with honors) from New England Conservatory, Boston, MA and taught voice and improvisation at New Bulgarian University from 1995 to 2001, and is currently a voice faculty at Berklee College of Music. Elena has appeared as a soloist of the National Radio Big Band, Sofia, Bulgaria, Acoustic Version trio and with artists such as Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Moses, Bruce Gertz, Gene Perla, Mike Tucker, Plamen Karadonev and many others.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Music Theory and Sight-Singing for Vocalists can be applied towards the completion of these related programs:

Related Degree Major


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