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ABRSM Music Theory Online

ABRSM Music Theory Exams

Music theory and musicianship development become increasingly important as instrumental skills progress in helping students perform with sensitivity, understanding, and confidence. ABRSM Music Theory Online prepares students for exams grades 1-8.

ABRSM Music Theory exams give students a thorough understanding of the building blocks of music. To summarize, this starts with the basics of rhythm and note reading, going on to cover harmony and counterpoint, and building to composition and a broad knowledge of Western music. Students will finish understanding how to read music and grasping a general history of music’s composers, their works’ structures, styles, and periods.

The ABRSM benchmark

A longstanding ABRSM benchmark is to pass Grade 5 Music Theory. In short, candidates must pass this exam before entering Grades 6, 7, or 8 Practical exams. A thorough understanding of the elements of music is essential for a full and satisfying performance at these higher grades. Their score reading skills and awareness multiply with the theoretical knowledge they gain. Here is the barebones of the tests:

Grades 1-3:

  • Basics of notation; terms & signs
  • The beginning of simple and compound time signatures
  • The beginning of  major and minor keys & scales
  • Rhythm writing

Grades 4-5:

  • The C clef
  • Ornaments
  • Chords in context
  • Transposition

Grades 6-8:

  • Increased harmonic vocabulary & modulation
  • Four-part writing / keyboard style & figured bass
  • Completion of an outline in a given style
  • Score reading & focus on context

Now the numbers!

Music Theory papers for grades 1-5 are marked out of 75 points, with 50 marks required for a Pass, 60 for a Merit, and 65 for a Distinction. Grades 6-8 are marked out of 100 points, with 66 points to Pass, 80 for Merit, and 90 for Distinction. These exams give you UCAS points if you plan to pursue higher education in England. Read all the details here: https://gb.abrsm.org/en/our-exams/information-and-regulations/exam-regulation-and-ucas-points/

The Conservatory’s Online Music Theory Lessons consist of weekly 30-minute, 45-minute, or 1-hour lessons weekly. Students will work through the ABRSM theory books, do practice exercises, and practice tests to confidently arrive at their exam. To learn more about our ABRSM Music Theory Lessons, go to our online music theory lessons page.

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