Music Theory

What is Music Fundamentals Online (MFO)?

MFO is an online platform for learning the basics of music theory. Developed for incoming music majors at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (JSoM), MFO provides online instruction during the summer before students enroll to prepare them for the core music theory sequence.

Registration for MFO – choose a category below:

Choose carefully – refunds not available. If you're unsure, direct questions to

Are you an incoming IU student?
Please visit the Summer MFO page for more information. To login, click here.

Are you a continuing IU student (non-music major)?
In the summer, you may take MFO for free. Please visit the MFO page for more information.

During the academic year, you may take T109 online to earn three credit hours.

Are you an individual outside of IU?
Individuals can register and pay the one-time registration fee of $99.00 at Upon successful registration, the student will be provided with a unique online registration code. This code will be sent to the email address provided during registration. Please allow 2 business days for the processing of your payment and the receipt of your MFO code.

Are you an institution?
Institutional licenses for MFO are now available for purchase. Contact us for more details.

Evaluation and placement

Before beginning MFO, students take an adaptive, online placement test that evaluates their current competencies. A student’s placement test results serve to personalize his/her MFO experience: he/she must only complete MFO topics where additional instruction and practice is needed. Students can and do “pass out of” anywhere from none to all of MFO.

The pretest usually takes between 20 and 60 minutes. Users should plan to complete the entire pretest in one sitting.

Once the pretest is completed, logging into MFO brings up the main course menu. Here users can work on incomplete modules, or return to completed modules for additional practice. MFO automatically saves user progress, so you can log out at any time and complete the modules in multiple sittings (strongly recommended).

MFO content

Unique in the discipline, MFO provides guided feedback as students are led through both written theory and aural skills fundamentals. At present, MFO covers the following topics:

Unit 1: Pitch
  • The Staff
  • Keyboard
  • Accidentals
  • Treble and Bass Clefs
  • C Clefs
  • Pitch Notation
Unit 3: Scales
  • Introduction to Scales
  • Major Scales
  • Minor Scales
  • Scale Degree Listening
Unit 5: Intervals
  • Interval Size
  • Interval Quality: 2nds and 3rds
  • Ear Training for 2nds and 3rds
  • Interval Quality: 6ths and 7ths
  • Ear Training for 6ths and 7ths
  • Interval Quality: 4ths and 5ths
  • Ear Training for 4ths and 5ths
  • Advanced Interval Topics
Unit 2: Rhythm
  • Basic Durations
  • Ties and Augmentation Dots
  • Rests
  • Rhythm Notation
Unit 4: Key Signatures
  • Major Key Signatures
  • Minor Key Signatures
  • Relations between Keys
Unit 6: Chords
  • Triads
  • Triad Scoring
  • Triadic Inversion
  • Seventh Chords
  • Seventh Chord Inversions

Unit modules (e.g., “Keyboard" in Unit 1) comprise several “Lessons” and “Activities”. Each Lesson introduces students to a concept and models the skills targeted by an Activity. To complete an Activity, a student must display competency by meeting a clearly articulated Goal (e.g., Correctly identify the octave number of five out of six notes in a row with an average time of 6 seconds or less per note).

Here is a screenshot from the MFO Keyboard module (Activity: Note Identification 2):

Screenshot of Music Fundamentals Online activity


Please visit our FAQ page at If you still have questions, please feel free to email