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Upcoming Music Theory Course at RGS

Nate Richards’ Music Theory Course at RGS

Music Theory Course

Music Theory Course


Nate Richards Music Theory Course Details and Registration Here

Questions? Contact Us

Make 2018 the year that you take your music to the next level!

Nate is planning a 4-class music theory course at RGS for the month of February. Space is limited to 10 seats.

Students will receive a printed guide for notes and exercises during class. Nate will also create a private blog post on the RGS site to post practice assignments, study resources, notes, discussion points, and enable commenting for students to ask questions and interact with one another.

The class will be on Mondays from 6-7pm starting February 5th. Age range is high school / college / adult.

It is a great opportunity for all students who want to further their knowledge of music and improve their overall musicianship, as well as apply music theory principles to their instrument of choice, improvising/songwriting, and general understanding of how music really works.

This is also a great opportunity for college-bound students or students who are considering music as a college major in the next year or two, and want to get a solid start on music theory required to prepare for entrance exams and auditions.

The course may continue beyond the 4 weeks, if members are interested in continuing their theory studies at RGS.

Background – Nate Richards has an undergraduate dual degree in Music Theory & Composition and Music Education, and a master’s degree in Music Performance, where he also studied master’s-level music theory. He also periodically teaches Music Theory and AP Music Theory courses at Garnet Valley High School.

Questions? Contact Us

Music Theory Lesson – What Makes a Song in a Mode

New YouTube Music Theory Lesson – What Makes a Song in a Mode

Nate Richards talks about what makes a song in a mode in this music theory lesson. 

So, what exactly is a mode? Let’s start with the Major Scale – which is the overarching parent scale in all Western music. To be brief, the Major scale has 7 notes that climb up the alphabet one letter at a time (a-b-c-d-e-f-g-a-b-c-d-e-f-g-a-etc), and we number them 1-2-3-4-5-6-7. The G Major scale is the key I used in the video, and the notes are G-A-B-C-D-E-F#, numbered G-1, A-2, B-3, etc.

A mode is a variation of the scale note order, and each variation comes with really fancy Greek name (these scales are very old, dating back well over 1000 years used in Gregorian Chant sung by monks – they thought the Greeks invented music so they gave all of the notes and scales Greek names). Take a look at the scale variations below and see that the idea is simply a circling around the same notes – the only difference is the starting note.

(BTW – modal theory goes way, way beyond this initial stage. But, this is a start at the general concept. Each mode eventually will become it’s own little world within the solar system of the Major Scale, with each mode having it’s own idiosyncrasies, chord progressions, emotions, colors, and applications).

I – G Ionian: G-A-B-C-D-E-F# (a.k.a. G Major. “Ionian” is just the Greek term referring to the Major Scale)

ii – A Dorian: A-B-C-D-E-F#-G

iii – B Phrygian: B-C-D-E-F#-G-A

IV – C Lydian: C-D-E-F#-G-A-B

V – D Mixolydian: D-E-F#-G-A-B-C

vi – E Aeolian: E-F#-G-A-B-C-D (a.k.a. E Natural Minor, or the “Relative” minor)

viio – F# Locrian: F#-G-A-B-C-D-E

This is just a start, and you are not expected to be an expert on modes at this point – that takes a long time of lessons, study, practice, and experience.

If you’ve made it this far, you might be confused and wondering what this all means. Here is a good follow-up video to this one to try applying the modes, and hopefully you will start to see how they work. Below that is yet another video from another angle:


Guitar Triads Part 1 – Article

I recently wrote a guest article for called Guitar Triads – Part 1. The link to the article is HERE. The topic is music theory / guitar theory and I take a look at how to build triads using Major 3rds and minor 3rds, and how triads are found on the guitar fretboard.

I plan to submit Part 2 within a month or so.

NATE RICHARDS is the owner of Richards Guitar Studio and Richards Rock Academy in Aston, PA.

How to Learn Music Theory – Where do I start?

Nate Richards – owner. Undergraduate degree in music theory and composition. Currently pursuing master’s degree (about halfway there!).

In this video, I discuss how to learn music theory, and where to start. This is not a music theory lesson, it is advice on where to start, what things to focus on , and what constitutes a solid foundation in music theory for all musicians. Topics discussed include the following:

Sight Reading on Your Instrument

In order to learn music theory, you must become literate – meaning, you must be able to read music. So, there is no better way to learn to read music than on your primary instrument. For guitarists, an interesting route might be classical guitar, which I recommend to all of my electric guitar students who are ready to take their playing to the next level, especially lead guitar and soloing. Another option is the classic Mel Bay / Hal Leonard route, which also gets the job done.

Many people spend years and countless hours of frustration trying to learn theory (modes, chords, scales, etc) without understanding the fundamentals. Heres a tip – it will never happen. You will never learn music theory at a deep level, a level that is useful and effective in real-world performing situations, unless you learn to read music first. And it doesn’t take that long – a few months to get a basic level down.

The 4 Pillars of Music Theory

Keep your eye out for my upcoming series “Path to the Modes.” Since so many guitarists are interested in the modes, I’m designing a lesson series to build up the foundation in order to understand how the modes work. In order to make use of any music theory on the guitar, the guitarist must have a mastery of the 4 pillars:

Pillar #1 – Intervals

Intervals are the measurements musicians use to define the distance between 2 notes. At a basic level, a musician should know Simple Intervals, which are intervals from a half step through an octave.

Pillar #2 – Scales

A guitarist should know how to construct a Major, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, and Melodic Minor scale. In addition, learning Relative Scales and Parallel Scales is essential.

Pillar #3 – Key Signatures

Probably the most important of the 4 pillars is key signatures. So much information is wrapped up in this topic. Master your Major and minor key signatures around the entire circle of fifths.

Pillar #4 – Triads

Triads are the basic building blocks of chords. As a guitarist, your bread and butter are chords and progressions. In order to understand which scale to use in a solo, you must be able to analyze and understand the chord progression.

Richards Guitar Studio offers professional guitar lessons and music theory lesson in Aston, PA.

Drill of the Week #45 – Satriani Find the Note Pt.2

CLICK HERE for Tabs for Satriani Find the Note Pt. 2.

Nate shows you another Joe Satriani Find the Note lesson, this time on the notes A, D, and Bb. We will locate all of the A’s, D’s, and Bb’s on the fretboard. Music theory and guitar fretboard theory needs practice and drilling, just like technique, songs, chords, etc. The goal of this lesson is to periodically practice finding notes on the fretboard, with only a few to try (rather than attempting to memorize the entire fretboard). This will help your guitar solos, improvisation, song memorization, etc. by reinforcing the idea of “targeting” notes.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Use the 12th fret as a reference point. The 12th fret (double-dot on the neck) is the same note as the open string. So, if you know that the fifth string is called the A string, then you know that the 12th fret on that same string is also an A, just an octave higher. Once you get this idea, you can do the same idea with fretted notes. So, if you know that the 3rd fret on the fifth string is a C (usually the first dot on the neck is at the 3rd fret, but some guitars have an inlay on the first fret – but let’s just call the 3rd fret the first dot by thinking of a Stratocaster neck) – then you can figure out that the 15th fret is also a C (that’s the first dot past the 12th fret). Think of the neck from 12th fret higher as a miniature guitar, since it is simply a smaller repetition of the first 11 frets.
  2. Be patient, go slow. Don’t rush this. Take as much time as needed. This is an ongoing project, so once every week or so, pick one note and try to find all of those notes on the fretboard.
  3. Use a note you already know as a reference. So, if you know where all of the A’s are on the guitar, you can use that as a reference point for all of the Bb’s, as Bb is only a half-step (1 fret) higher than A.

Richards Guitar Studio offers professional guitar lessons, bass lessons, drum lessons, and rock band school Richards Rock Academy in Aston, PA. Serving Delaware County, PA. Visit for rock band info.

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